One day after defeating the Dallas Mavericks, the Toronto Raptors are hoping to keep things rolling.
With the Houston Rockets coming into town on Sunday, fundamentals were the focus of Saturday’s practice. Coach Dwane Casey was sure to stress that while the team was happy about the victory on Friday night, they were not satisfied and know they have a lot of work ahead of them if they want to right the season.
When asked about the energy level his team played with over the last two games — including the loss against Brooklyn where they had just eight healthy bodies available — Casey didn’t mince words: “At some point, you get tired of getting your butt kicked.” He also said that it should have happened a long time ago, but that collectively the team is figuring out how to come together and compete for 48 full minutes of basketball.
“Sharing the basketball, talking on defence, trusting on defence, being a team is the biggest thing we’re gathering out of this,” Casey said. “Win, lose or draw, there’s no one guy that can do it by himself. Or no three guys that can do it. It’s got to be a team. It’s a team effort.”
Shortly after Andrea Bargnani spoke with Toronto media to clarify quotes that were attributed to him a day earlier in an interview given to the Italian media, Casey also talked about the misunderstanding and smiled while telling the media that it’s not the first time he has experienced something sounding much different in print than what was said or intended.
“We talked about it and he said – it’s what I said, the translation was a misunderstanding,” Casey said about speaking with Bargnani. “He explained it to the team, he explained it to me. And to me it’s a non-issue because I know in his heart he doesn’t believe what was printed in that medium.”
Alan Anderson also spoke about the misunderstanding, saying that Bargnani addressed the team to let them know how he felt. Anderson made it clear that the all is well within the locker room of the Raptors.
“We know it’s a language barrier so guys seen it, we wanted to know about it and he said that they misinterpreted what he said,” Anderson explained. “As long as we know he doesn’t feel that way, that’s fine. We move on, try to get some momentum. We got a great win yesterday, let’s not take that from us, but we’ve got to add it to the next game. As long as we’re all on the same page and he doesn’t feel that way, we’ve got to keep going.”
Anderson shed some light on the dynamic inside the Raps’ locker room while talking about the importance of the team dealing with the fallout from Bargnani’s interview swiftly.
“Like I said, we don’t need no distractions because our chemistry as far as getting along with each other is great. Some teams have guys that don’t like each other, we don’t have that.”
After Friday’s shoot-around, Anderson said the struggles this season could mean that the team hadn’t “bought in” as much as they had a season ago. After the victory against the Mavs, he stressed that the effort against Dallas was the kind that is needed every time the team steps onto the floor and that they were capable of much greater things than they’ve been showing.
“That’s a big confidence booster as a team because we know what we’re capable of doing when we stick to our game plan and we’re committed to it,” Anderson said. “We committed to it yesterday for four quarters. We seen what happens when we don’t play for four quarters and we see when we do.”
Anderson said he was feeling great the day after his first game in over a month. While he was excited to get on the court against the Mavs, he was impressed with his own stamina after the time off.
When asked about grabbing an offensive rebound in traffic against four Mavericks players rather than looking winded or trying to ease himself back into playing shape, Anderson laughed. “[It was] because I wanted to score,” he said. “I was so mad that I couldn’t score. I was so mad, like, ‘I’m going to get this ball, we’re going to score. If I don’t score, somebody is going to score.’”
Even though he was scoreless from the floor (0-for-8 on the night), he was thrilled to be back in uniform and able to help his teammates.
“Man, it felt good,” he said. “Even though I didn’t make a shot, it just felt good. It felt good. I played hard defence, rebounded good. We played great team defence. If we’re going to win and I’m not going to score. I’ll keep not scoring.”