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Three things left from the Raptors loss to the Rockets


All good things must come to an end and there goes the home winning streak because this penchant for not putting teams away when they get the chance finally bit the HOTH in the bum.

Maybe they’ll learn a lesson, maybe they won’t; but there are still 21 more to go and it’s not worth getting too worked up over one.

And there was this:

An unusual night.

For DeMar DeRozan, that is.

Not a lot of shots in the first half because (a) Scola had it going and (b) Johnson was killing Harden and (c) the Rockets did an okay job of getting the ball out of his hands and (d) he did have five of his seven assists in the half.

But what stands out a bit is that he only played 34 minutes, which is less than his usual load in a game that was as close as that one was.

It had to do with circumstances, Casey did the right thing by giving DeRozan the three minutes off with two fouls in the first half because Norm Powell was okay and had probably earned them.

But the one that caught my eye a bit was the fourth quarter, when he got his usual rest to start the period but only got back in for the final 5:48 when he usually gets in with about seven minutes to go.

I guess if you’re of the school of thought that a couple of minutes saved here or there for DeRozan and Lowry are important, last night’s distribution was fine.

I think stretching him out to 36 – or leaving him at 34 but giving Norm or someone three in the second quarter and three to start the fourth instead of almost seven would satisfy everyone?

It’s hard to find those snippets for breaks, Casey’s got some tough minutes management to deal with.

Cool idea – every now and then

Early in the second quarter, a play developed where Patrick Patterson passed up a good look to kick it to Kyle Lowry who passed up a good look to kick it to Cory Joseph who took th three and missed only to have Patterson emphatically hammer it home for a putback dunk that drew all kinds of oohs and ahhs and cheers.

Except from Dwane.

One thing he values almost above all else is transition defence and I know he would have preferred Patterson balance the floor and get back. It’s the wiser move to make, the chances at an offensive board are slim and he’d rather have maybe one big on the glass and the guys get back.

I’ve actually talked to Patterson about this because he can be an impressive offensive rebounder in traffic and he knows he has to avoid gambling too much because it’s more important to get set defensively and not caught in no man’s land.

So, good play because it ended well but not something that should happen with regularity.

An odd one, indeed

Yeah, I thought I’d seen a lot – not all, but a lot – but that’s the first time I’ve ever seen a coach get at technical for being out on the court, which is why Dwane got T’d up in the fourth.

A cheap one for sure because you could tell he was simply calling a play (there was nothing to complain about because Lowry had just made a great out-of-bounds save in the far corner) and they ever started calling techs for coaches being on the floor, there’d be coaches ejected left and right every night.

Hell,  Erik Spoelstra’s charging out to the paint to scream for timeouts three times a night and he creeps on the court to harass shooters as a matter of course.

Dwane told us after the game he’d never seen a call like that in his career, which doesn’t surprise me; I’d be stunned if I ever see one again.

This isn’t too bad, right?

This, my friends, is The Year Of The Atomic Ant.

I can feel it in my bones.

A goal off a penalty, an assist on the game-sealer in the final minute and the TFCs are off and winning behind the tiny little striker.

It’s going to cause some kind of dilemma over at Maple Leaf Sports because I don’t know which celebration they’ll sink the most time and money into, the one for the Larry O’Brien Trophy, the one for whatever the MLS Cup is called or the one for the winning numbers in the pucks lottery.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Only a couple of days left until the Great Hoop Talks Chinwag And Buntoss and if you don’t already have your tickets for Wednesday night’s thing, you should.

Go here and if you use the promo code “smith” (no quotes, all lowercase) you can get $ 5 off the ticket, money you might want to put towards, say, buying me a beer.

I don’t do this an awful lot but this turned out pretty well, I think, and it was fun to put together.

It was interesting to talk to guys about being professional and doing what’s necessary to thrive and the Scola quote’s one of the best I’ve heard from a Raptor in a good, long time.

So there goes Payton Manning into the sunset, leaving as a champion and how many thousands of other athletes would kill to be able to do that?

It’s the storybook end (Jordan should have left for good after that last championship-winner in Utah) and pretty much assures Manning’s place in sports lore, even if his main contribution to the last game was not screwing it up.

I didn’t follow his career too, too closely, although he would be one of the NFL stars I do know a lot about because of his longevity, the neck surgeries, even the stuff on Saturday Night Live and his television commercials because he was outstanding in them.

I’d say the greatest compliment I could give him, or any athlete, is that he never cheated the game. I believe he saw it as a privilege to be an NFL player and it was his obligation to give the sport everything he possibly could not only on game days but during his preparation for games and seasons.

Yes, there are dark sides and questionable circumstances that have come to light but that underscores the point that we can appreciate the very best athletes we see for what they do in their sports and how they treat the game and their place in it and their teammates.

And in those regards, there aren’t too many like Manning anywhere and the sports world will be lessened with him not in it.

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