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One down, 81 to go.
Not a bad outing against an overwhelmed and out-classed opponent (you take five rotation guys out of any team’s lineup and you get the Bulls) but an easy win sure beats the alternative.
Oh, and the final score actually was 117-100; we got word about the possibility that Chicago’s last bucket was a two-pointer rather than a three while we were typing, the league didn’t complete its review until we were decompressing so the score’s right on the web but not in the paper.
Anyway, some signs …
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It didn’t take too long for fans to see just how effective C.J. Miles could be.
One play about three minutes into the second quarter demonstrated it perfectly.
Miles started the play in front of the Raptors bench, made a pass to Wright above the arc, Wright swung the ball to VanVleeet on the other side of the court while Miles raced along the baseline to the far corner.
VanVleet hit him in stride, Miles hit a perfect quick-release catch-and-shoot three and a jaw or two dropped.
Just the kind of ball movement they want and need.
Finding his way
It certainly wasn’t the most explosive shooting night DeMar DeRozan’s ever had, or one of the busier. He was just 2-for-9 from the floor although he did get to the free throw lane eight times and also piled up five assists.
Of everyone on the team, he’s being asked to change the most offensively and it’s coming, even though it’s a work in progress.
Now, there are nights when he’s going to take 25 shots and maybe finish with 35 or 38 points; he’s got that level of skill and his team will need it every now and then but, for the moment, he’s still figuring it all out.
There were a handful of times I thought he had a great shot but he passed it up – a couple of corner threes in the third quarter come quickly to mind – so you can see there’s still some familiarity that needs to be in place.
Yeah, the game was a blowout and at no point after about 15 minutes did you think the Bulls were going to pull off some monumental upset.
But it was the first one and everyone’s literally getting up to speed so I wasn’t the least bit surprised when Casey went back to Lowry with about 6 ½ minutes left and Toronto up 18 or when he put DeRozan back in the game with a 23-point lead and about five minutes to go.
Casey call the game a bit “disjointed” when it came to doling out playing time, in large part because the first half blew by and there weren’t enough stoppages to make many changes, especially with the way the backup group was playing.
And those four or five late minutes – DeRozan and Lowry both came out with about 75 seconds to go – will help with game conditioning and give them some more time to work out any kinks.
The rest of the story?
There’s a little bit, yeah.
So they did this thing during one of the timeouts last night where the players did a bit of Karaoke and goofed around to the strains of My Girl and it might have been the best bit of schtick I’ve seen in all my years. Totally laughed out loud.
And, yeah, perhaps I did warble a bit to myself but you hear that song and how can’t you, right?
Last call for mail since I’m bailing on tomorrow morning because it’s a rare Saturday that there’s no day-after-game stuff to do and I deserve a loafing morning. Until shootaround, that is.
But we’ll load it up on Sunday so go to firstname.lastname@example.org and do what you do.
I honestly am not sure what Instagram stories are but if you go to @thetorontostar I think you might be able to find one that Laura and I did yesterday. Or not. I don’t know for certain.
Gonna be a weird Saturday with a night game and an odd Sunday with a flight to start a trip but, lo and behold, Air Canada has put on a direct Toronto-San Antonio flight and that knocks one city off the You Can’t Get There From Here list.
And all I can think of is that it’s the Matt Bonner Flight because they must have done it to help out our favourite Sandwich Hunter.
Made a wisecrack last night about Masai and Shanahan getting together today to have a joint parade-planning meeting.
But you know who might want to start thinking about it?
The mighty TFCs.
Not sure how up to speed you are but that’s the best team in the MLS, even if they are scuffling a bit the last little while.
But they go to Atlanta this weekend with a chance to finish with best regular season record in league history.
I get that it’s just the regular season and legends are born through winning championships and playing for them but having the greatest number of points in a season than anyone ever has is nothing to sneeze at.
You might want to pay a bit of attention because I think they’re going to become an even bigger story in the weeks to come.