It was a whirlwind on trade deadline day but none of those deals involved the Raptors as Toronto stood pat. It’s always interesting sitting on the team plane and watching who walks onto the aircraft, who doesn’t get on, and occasionally who is tapped on the shoulder and leaves the plane. On this trip, there was nothing eventful and all the conspiracy theorists can rest easy as Chris Bosh did not travel with the team but it was due to a mild ankle sprain and not a trade. (Although I’m sure some eyebrows were raised when word got out that Bosh left practice and was not going to travel with the team to New Jersey for Friday’s game.)
The fire continues in Washington as they made another deal that saw Antawn Jamison pack his bags for Cleveland. With Caron Butler shipped off to Dallas earlier in the week, the Wizards will look vastly different when they hit Toronto on Saturday night for a date with the Raptors. Washington was also rumoured to be the third team in with the Jazz and the Heat as Miami was trying to pry Carlos Boozer away from Utah.
OK now people can start worrying about New York this summer as the Knicks pulled off a deal that cleared more cap space. Tracy McGrady heads to New York after a three-team deal involving the Houston Rockets and the Sacramento Kings. The Knicks may have enough room now to pursue not one, but two big names this summer when the free agent frenzy takes place.
It was tough to imagine one big-name star going to the “Big Apple” and bearing the load of turning the Knicks fortunes by himself, but now, if New York management has its way, it will be a two-pronged attack. The Knicks also get a late-season look at McGrady to see if he has anything left to contribute. Houston gets not only Kevin Martin from Sacramento but a chance to pick high in the draft as it acquired first-round draft picks, albeit with conditions, from New York.
Look out for a very athletic Charlotte Bobcats squad as they acquired Tyrus Thomas from the Chicago Bulls for Acie Law and Flip Murray. The Bobcats also acquired veteran Theo Ratliff from San Antonio for a second-round draft pick.
The Raptors let one get away Wednesday night in a 109-102 overtime loss. It sure looked like they had one hand on the fridge door holding on to a five-point lead with less than 35 seconds remaining but breakdowns cost them dearly.
It could have been a win in regulation for Toronto if not for the lack of concentration late in the contest. Memphis came out of the time out and a blown defensive assignment by Toronto allowed the Grizzlies O.J. Mayo to get a wide-open look and knock down a three pointer. Following an empty trip by Toronto, the Grizzlies pushed the ball back up court and scored in transition to tie the game with 1.7 seconds remaining.
Toronto had enough players back but they were unable to prevent Mike Conley from getting the ball up-court quickly and nobody picked up Zach Randolph who trailed the play, took Conley’s pass and laid home the tying bucket. In spite of the aforementioned miscues, Bosh had a good look at the basket with 1.7 seconds left and couldn’t convert.
The overtime was all Memphis as they seemingly ran one play to get the ball to Rudy Gay. The Grizzlies’ screen-and-roll play allowed Gay to work against a smaller defender in Jose Calderon as Gay scored regularly. Raptor head coach Jay Triano tried to adjust and had Antoine Wright guarding Gay but at that point Gay was in rhythm and it didn’t matter who was trying to stop him.
With his size and a high release point on his shot, the only way to stop him was to try and get the ball out of his hands, something Triano discussed with the media post-game but by then it was too late. Over in the Grizzlies locker room, they were slightly surprised that Toronto stayed with the same coverage but as one of the Memphis coaches said, “We liked the way it worked out for us.”
It was another tough night for Hedo Turkoglu — who had one more point than I did — but in fairness to him, he is dealing with a family illness. Some question the wisdom of sticking with him while having a subpar night but as one former NBA coach always said, coaches have options and they have to assess what is best for the team and what they can live with if it doesn’t work out. Triano chose an option that he was probably happy with but had many fans wondering why an ineffective Turkoglu was in the game.
The best comparison is one of a baseball pitcher who figures if he is going to get beat he is going down by throwing his most effective pitch and not his second or third best pitch.