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Anunoby’s solid debut highlights lone pre-season home game


All right. Now that we’re getting fully back into the swing of things, we should stick with tried and true post-game missives here, right?

If any of you have any other brighter ideas, I’m more than willing to listen to them but, otherwise, we’ll stick with what works.

THREE POINTERS


A surprise showing

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I didn’t expect OG Anunoby to play – he’d been practicing full tilt but leaving Victoria they told us he was a long way away – and I don’t think anyone expected to get the 24 minutes out of him that he did.

(I will reserve nicknaming him The Magician for a bit but he could very well make Bruno Caboclo disappear)

Now, he’s a rookie, he was playing against a team that was playing its second game in two nights and everything at this time of year has to be tempered by many factors. But …

But he didn’t look entirely out of place, tentative on a couple of the jumpers he also had to be forced to take and the reviews will all be good.

If he can play and becomes that 10th guy in a 10-man rotation with few expectations, Masai and Bobby and Jeff Weltman and Dan Tolzman and the scouts will have hit a home run.

It was a helluva first impression out of nowhere.

Handling with care

I think I counted four baskets that Jonas Valanciunas got simply because he correctly read plays, got into the right spot – the “dunker’s spot” is what it’s called – and took little dump off passes for easy buckets, either dunks or six-foot jump shots.

I know he got one from DeRozan and I think one from VanVleet and another from Norm and turned them all into quite easy baskets.

And that’s how he’s going to score this year, on plays like that and rolls to the baskets and everyone’s going to be fine with it, him chief among that group.

I don’t recall more than a couple of post-ups, one in the second quarter that ended with a nifty up-and-under move that befuddled Andre Drummond and if there are only two or three a game and they come in the flow of the offence, Dwane and his teammates are going to just fine.

It’s stupidly early but one of the most pleasant surprises of the season so far has been Valanciunas’s all-around play.

Good groupings

Dwane was not going to go there when he was pressed on whether or not he was closer on deciding whether Powell or Miles would fill in the fifth spot in the starting Iineup.

“No. If I did, I couldn’t tell you right now,” was the running joke post-game.

Not just because I like to use the name “CJ And The Kids” for Miles with a young second group, I do think last night’s lineup with Powell starting is the way to go.

I remain unconvinced they can have a five backups on the floor at the same time when real games start because of their inexperience but at least having an old head like Miles out there with them brings a little sense of calm.

And he doesn’t seem to mind.

“That’s above my pay grade. Doesn’t matter. I’m too old to worry about that. I’m just playing basketball. I’m worried about winning. Wherever they see fit is where I’m going to go and I’ll make the best of it.”

And, as the guy used to say, now for the rest of the story.

Any song that starts with the swirl of the bagpipes is okay with me.

All right, who’s got Edwin Encarnacion in the Kirk Gibson role, except for it being Game 5 of an ALDS instead of Game 1 of a World Series?

And even with the expectation that the game encroaches on the five-hour mark – it is Joe Girardi after all and he could go through a dozen pitchers – you have to try to stay up and watch it, don’t you?
Deciding games truly are special and not to be missed.

Toss in the fact we got a rainout in Chicago last night and now have a Game 4-Game 5 doubleheader this afternoon over the dinner hour is just about perfect. Maybe a game on a stool and a game on the couch and the day is shaping up quite nicely, if I don’t say.

All right, got like one question yesterday for this weekend’s mailbag and that’s certainly not going to cut it. Get to work, my good people, but dropping by askdoug@thestar.ca and quizzing me.

It’s a lot of fun and you’ll likely see the fruits of your labour on Sunday morning.

You all know the great measure of respect and admiration I have for Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, right?

Well, that hasn’t wavered but, my goodness, the fact they were key members of a United States team that will now miss the 2018 World Cup after losing to Trinidad and Tobago last night is stunning, isn’t it?

It’s the first time since 1986 that the Americans won’t be competing in the World Cup and last night’s loss is being described as the most embarrassing, worst moment in soccer history in that country.

I don’t imagine too many people in Canada care an awful lot because the passion of soccer fans here lies mainly with their homelands and the World Cup will still be a month-long party not to be missed.

But the hand-wringing and vitriol in the States today is like it would be here if, say, Bahamas knocked Canada out of an Olympic hockey tournament.

It does, however, set up a 2018 summer of a home-and-home-and-home-and-home series between Canada and the USA next summer since neither country will be playing with the big boys.

TORONTO STAR

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