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It was hardly the most scintillating of games but a professional victory and an important one for Dwane Casey and the organization.
But it’s in the rearview mirror with another four-game week ahead; time waits for no team.
And there was this:
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Getting and going
Dwane Casey lauded OG Anunoby for his defence after the game (“I thought he did a great job busting through screens, and trying to get back in front and really challenging,” was how he put it) but a couple of offensive plays caught the eye early.
On about the third possession for the Raptors, he got the ball in the corner right in front of the bench. Instead of looking for a shot, he drove it hard, made the smart pass from under the basket to Valanciunas in the corner and JV knocked down a three for the first bucket.
A few minutes later, OG got the ball in the corner on the other side and, again, didn’t have a shot so he forced the issue and drove, this time scoring on a nifty reverse baseline layup.
I’ve been hearing all season about the kid’s explosiveness and ability to get to the rim and have been told when he’s 100 per cent comfortable with his knee, we’ll see all kinds of facets of his game that are hidden right now.
I think those two plays were what the people were talking about.
Time for a rest
Remember how Dwane was a bit cranky after the easy win in Atlanta because the kids had let a 30-point lead in the fourth get down to 15 and he was worried about bad habits?
Well, I figure Mt. Casey might be ready to go off again last night when a 22-point lead became 12 with 2:32 to go and he called a timeout.
To ream ‘em, right?
Nope. To let ‘em catch their breath.
The five backups – Wright, VanVleet, Miles, Siakam and Poeltl – ended up playing the entire 12 minutes and after close to 10, they were just a bit worn down and Casey thought they needed a break.
Was much appreciated, VanVleet told us.
“That was a long stretch there with no timeouts, no deadballs, just kinda pick-up basketball at some point, right? They were small-ball, everybody switching, and I think we got a little gassed there for a stretch, but were able to get it back and turn it around and close it out, so that was good for us.”
A rare appearance
Serge Ibaka had himself a pretty good night, all told. The nine rebounds and 11 points were good but so, too, was his level of activity.
Some nights he seems to stay away from the fray, last night he was more aggressive hunting rebounds and driving the ball and it’s not something we’re terribly used to.
Ibaka shot four free throws – made ‘em all, too – and it was the most he’d shot in one game since Jan. 9 and he’s never been to the line more that five times in any game this season.
Not, driving the ball isn’t really his gig so he probably won’t get fouled too, too often but I think you’d like your power forward and sometimes centre to put up numbers at least a little bit bigger than that.
As the guy used to say, and now the rest of the story.
Sadly, I missed every second of the Grammys last night; sadly, I missed every second of the Royal Rumble, too.
Don’t care what happened in the Royal Rumble since Tiger Jeet Singh and Rowdy Roddy Piper weren’t involved but was marginally interested to hear the young Canadian lass won a big Grammy.
I bet it was the Grey Cup gig that got her over the top.
So we’re waiting for the game to start and one of the TVs in the work room is on the Pro Bowl for some strange reason and a couple of the TVs in the work room are on the NHL all-star game because, well, because Canada and I can only think of one thing.
Why didn’t the NBA move its up to yesterday because if all three were on the same weekend we could all go on vacation somewhere and blow ‘em all off.
Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
When it’s all said and done in our era I am sure we will come to believe the Roger Federer is the single greatest athlete in any sport that it will have been our pleasure to watch.
More than any basketball player or baseball player or puckster or gridiron guy, Federer will go down as the absolute gold standard for athletes who combine sporting brilliance with a personality beyond the game that is top-notch.
Classy in victory and defeat, well-spoken and accommodating; multi-lingual, personable, willing to open himself and his raw emotion to fans regardless of the circumstances.
If you can’t admire that man, you have issues.
It’s been well documented that the last thing I’d like to cover before my days in the gig are done is a Super Bowl. A total circus, a late game, it’s seldom a memorable one, no access and such a structured week being shuttled hither and yon there’s no sense of where you are.
And the biggest reason?
One, I cannot believe so many of my colleague are forced to trot out on the Monday night to be a de facto studio audience for the palaver of interview sessions; I cannot believe fans sit at home and watch it and I am absolutely stunned that a single soul would pay real money to buy a ticket to go watch it.
Some of us have simply given up, folks. Simply given up.