It was a valiant New Years' Eve effort by the Toronto Raptors, but one that fell short despite a career-night by DeMar DeRozan. The HQ takes a quick look at the match, but focuses on how far this club has come in a year, and the moves that hopefully have it headed back to the future...
What's the greatest movie sequel of all time?
Ask folks that and you'll probably get a range of answers.
Empire Strikes Back?
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?
I'm going to throw one more out there. Back to the Future Part II.
There's just something about Marty McFly, Doc Brown and a flying Delorean that gets me every time...especially in Part II where they take a trip into "the future."
Well, what folks in 1985 assumed the future would be.
Of course we all know that the future from the movie didn't turn out to be like our current present day...if that makes any sense. Our cars don't fly through the sky, we don't have "hoverboards," and we still order delivery pizza instead of hydrating a take-home version.
But the whole concept of the movie, the series in fact, is fascinating is it not?
How many of us would go back in time and change things, use a mulligan per say, and hopefully alter our present and future?
As the fourth quarter wound down on the Toronto Raptors last night in their 114 to 105 loss to the Houston Rockets, and as my attention began to wander to AMC's showing of said movie, I began to wonder about this idea in respect to our beloved Dinos.
Would Bryan Colangelo take advantage of a Delorean equipped with a flux capacitor in order to undo some of his moves?
I suspect so, and Hedo Turkoglu would in the words of Biff Tannen, "make like a tree and get out of here."
However right now, I'm not sure there's a lot Bryan Colangelo would undo on this current roster.
Yes, they fell to Houston last night, but simply ran out of gas and couldn't compete with the Rockets' depth in the end. Jerryd Bayless reinjuried his ankle after only 8 minutes of action, and the remaining eight Raptors just didn't have the juice to pull this one out.
But again, this season should be all about the future, and the last two games showed some great promise at last for the Raptors' faithful.
First there was the defensive effort.
It didn't hold up for the whole game last night, but the first quarter was a continuation of a stellar defensive performance that began last Tuesday against the Dallas Mavericks. Toronto gave up an abysmal 42 points in the second quarter, but outside of that piece of the four quarter pie, again did a solid overall job on D, against one of the league's top offensive teams I might add.
And how about individually?
Not too long ago, Linas Kleiza looked like George McFly at the start of Back to the Future. Now, he looks more like the McFly who vanquished Biff, again posting a double-double last night.
Amir Johnson has been slowed by injury, but is continuing his growth as an offensive threat, while remaining a force in terms of rebounding and blocking shots.
Ed Davis was out-muscled and out-smarted last night by Luis Scola and Brad Miller but already looks like a legit franchise building block.
And players like Joey Dorsey, Julian Wright and Jerryd Bayless have found good use of their talents here in Raptorland.
Even the player I'm most skeptical of on this team, DeMar DeRozan, has shown me a thing or two recently. He still loses focus on D, but is starting to show signs that he might realize just how good he can become. Last night was his best offensive display yet as he dropped a career-high 37 on the Rockets, and did so in impressive fashion, shooting a high percentage, attacking the basket, and mixing up his shot selection. If he can be a yin to Bargnani's yang offensively...
That being said, this team still needs a major influx of tier one talent (this was made painfully obvious again last night against the Rockets), and a top pick in the upcoming draft would be a big start. But it's hard not to like a lot of the pieces that are now in place. In fact, this is the happiest I've been as a fan of the team in almost three years! And yes, that's factoring in the 11 win season to date!
On this New Year's Day 2011, instead of going over game number 32 in the season in huge detail, I wanted us all to reflect on the transition this club has made from this time last year. On January 1 2010, there was reason for false optimism thanks to a sudden playoff push, however the reality was that this was not a cohesive roster, nor one that could do much better than another first round exit, and there was little future hope thanks to a lack of draft picks and financial flexibility.
Now, a good chunk of those issues are gone, and while the team no longer has All-Star Chris Bosh, from what we've seen of his act both on and off the court in Miami, that might not be such a bad thing in the end.
Maybe Toronto only wins 20 games this year when all is said and done, or maybe they win 38 but miss out on the dance.
I don't think it matters as long as we keep seeing progress from the youngsters on this ball club, and as long as Bryan Colangelo keeps the rebuild on its current path.
In the words of Doc Brown:
"Any variation on this scheme (ie, swinging for the fences for veteran help ala Jermaine O'Neal) could cause a time paradox, the results of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum, and destroy the franchise!"
Or...um...generally keep the franchise in no-man's land between the playoffs and the high end of the draft lottery for years to come.
Indeed Marty, indeed.