The Raptors showed some resiliency Sunday in their 102-95 win over the Detroit Pistons.
So make it four wins in a row for Toronto as the Pistons see their losing streak stretch to seven straight. But there were some tense moments for Toronto as they built a 20-point lead only to see it shrink to one before fending the Pistons off to hang on for the win.
It came down to some good ol’ fashion hustle for Toronto and there are a couple of plays that really stand out.
Antoine Wright, who saw some rare, first-half action, and Jarrett Jack were part of one of those plays in the first half when they both got down on the floor after the ball and the result was a Hedo Turkoglu trey.
Late in the game Chris Bosh keeps the ball alive on the offensive glass and the subsequent possession turns into an easy dunk for Sonny Weems. There was also one other play that that you would not have seen made a couple of seasons ago from Andrea Bargnani who is showing more proficiency and confidence in his play on the inside.
He ducks in hard late in the game to get into the lane and he and Bosh play "buddy ball," assistant coach Marc Iavaroni’s term for two big men looking for one another with some interior passing, and the subsequent post move results in a three-point opportunity sending Jonas Jerebko to the bench with his sixth foul.
If you’re a Raptor fan it was nice to see Marco Belinelli make a three ball yesterday and the good thing was it went down after he squared up establishing his balance. Of late, Belinelli has made a habit of hoisting shots after fading and leaning which caused him to go through a 5-for-28 stretch before he started to make some shots in Detroit on Dec. 23rd.
When Belinelli squares up with the proper balance and goes straight up and down, he can really knock ‘em down.
It’s interesting how Jay Triano has been forced to shuffle his lineup with the injury to Jose Calderon, but Jack has responded and so has Marcus Banks. In limited minutes, Banks has done a good job running the second unit. He has played within himself offensively and has put out the effort on the defensive end. The other key element is Banks holding the second unit accountable as he is not afraid to verbalize his message to the likes of Amir Johnson, Weems, and Belinelli to be sure everyone is doing their job.
The big questions come when Calderon is healthy. Does he get his starting job back and what do you do with Banks? Do you keep him active?
In all fairness, Toronto has dealt with this situation once already and the precedent has been set in some sense. When T.J. Ford was injured in the 2007-08 season and playing very well at the time of his mishap, he was not reinserted into the starting lineup when he was healthy enough to play.
Ford didn’t like it, he articulated it and it caused a stir, but he still had to sit on the bench while Calderon ran the team as a starter. Ford eventually was put back into the starting lineup but the damage was done as Ford was dealt during the following off-season after Calderon signed a new deal.
That being said, Calderon should not come back until he is 100 per cent healthy as the team seems to have found a nice rhythm of late.
It says here that if the team is still going well, Calderon should come off the bench and work his way slowly back into the lineup facing some second unit players the same way Ford did a couple of seasons ago.
He might not like it, but in the end, it’s who finishes the game, not who starts and with Triano currently playing four starters (Bosh, Bargnani, Turkoglu and Jack) during crunch time in the fourth quarter with a rotating wild card player, that might just turn out to be Calderon’s spot when he is fully recovered.
The shot doctor and shooting guru Dave Hopla will be in town for a couple of days working with the Raptors.
It’s always interesting talking shooting mechanics with Hopla and in discussions with him about shooting, I have added to piece of information when teaching shooting to young players. There is a popular acronym B-E-E-F established to help young shooters remember the key points to a shot (balance, elbow under the ball, eyes on the target, follow-through).
But since talking to Hopla and hearing his concept of extension on the shot with your elbow finishing above your eyebrow after the release, my spelling of the acronym is now B-E-E-E-F, with the extra "E" being extension.
Trust me, it works.
Jarrett Jack takes looking after himself and his nutrition very seriously. He is looking for a new chef to prepare his meals.
Speaking of looking after players, it has been well documented that Boston Celtics head coach, Doc Rivers, has eliminated the morning shootarounds.
Boston is the third such team to engage in this practice and a number of teams are flirting with the idea, and it makes sense. Just consider if you have consecutive nights with less than six hours sleep, your reaction time is equivalent to that of a legally drunk driver. I guess that explains what happens when a team has three games in four nights or four games in five nights in the middle of February on the road.
It sure makes sense.