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Blog Buddy: Raptors HQ
Ugh. These are the games that try the souls of Warriors Nation (and make game recaps a total chore). I suspected in the game preview that the absence of Curry and the Raptors' improved D under Dwayne Casey could make this one "a slog." I didn't imagine that it would be quite this sloggy. For a time at least it looked like a sloggy but fairly straightforward win against a bottom-feeder opponent. Then, in the third quarter, with Curry-stand-ins Monta Ellis and Nate Robinson walking the ball upcourt every possession — slowly, slowly, slowly pounding the rock into the floor of the Air Canada Center — the offense went from stagnant to comatose. 11 points in the 3rd quarter + 17 points in the 4th = a boring, ugly, insipid loss against a bad team. Usually I'm fairly rapt during Ws games, particularly when I'm slated to write the recap, but here I found myself getting up to see if I had any more Raisinets in the freezer, playing Words With Friends, or wistfully recalling those whirlwind, carefree games of two seasons ago, when Coach Nellie handed Kid Curry the keys to the kingdom, and Steph and his band of merry men (Morrow, Tolly, Ronny, Mr. Potatohead et al.) would score 110, 120, 130 pts and run the opposition off the court.
How, two years later -- two coaches, new ownership, and a slew of personnel moves later -- did we find ourselves in this sorry state? I mean, yeah, it's one game, and we were without the straw that stirs the drink on offense. Still, if at the end of Curry's rookie season one could have looked forward in time and seen what those runnin' gunnin' West Coast Warriors have morphed into, well, one would have been pretty bummed. GSoM's resident optimist J-RIDAH probably best expressed my feelings in the game thread: "blow it up." If J-RIDAH is ready to break out the TNT, you know we've got problems. March 15th trade deadline coming up: tick, tick, tick.
Make the jump for a couple of quickie player call-outs before we head to the Nation's capital to face another
bottom feeder well-matched opponent.
Per my self-imposed dictum to stay positive during these recaps, I'm going to call out the players I thought did pretty well, rather than rip on the evil-doers:
Ekpe Udoh. Yet another night in which the counting numbers (7 points on 2-7 fg, 3 boards, 2 blocks in 32 minutes) didn't do justice to his positive impact on the floor. The plus-minus numbers didn't really bear it out this time (-4) but he looked totally poised and confident on offense, was as active and disruptive as always on D, and, despite the paltry rebound total, seemed to have his hands on a lot of balls that ended up in the hands of his teammates. The Raptors announcers lavished him with praise for both his D and his O. For about a five minute stretch in the first half, I was thinking to myself: "man, we do suck, but Udoh seriously looks like a building block." The Ekpe-demic(TM) is still working an adjusted plus-minus of +13.64. Two-year apm of 7.22. Unless and until those come way down to earth, I'm going to say heck with PPG and RPG and TS% and consider him the second-most valuable piece on the team, after Curry.
Monta Ellis. Had a mostly under control and mistake-free night (22 points, 7 dimes, 2 turnovers), but showed once again why a lot of people think he's simply not a point guard. It's not that he's an selfish player at all -- he's ace at driving and kicking to teammates, and seems to have developed a nice pick-and-pop routine with David Lee. It's just that he doesn't seem to have much of a flair for floor management, spacing, or perhaps most notably, tempo. The offense seems to go dormant when he's walking it up and trying to figure things out. Of course, this could be as much Coach Jackson's fault as his. Even in last night's Sahara desert of an offensive performance there were a few glimpses of how devastating he can be when he's flashing off-ball — most notably on the play of the night, a sweet feed from Lee that he finished with the kind of delicious French-pastry pirouette that only Monsieur Ellis can bake up.
David Lee. As is often the case against mediocre opponents, Lee looked for much of the game like the best offensive player on the floor. When he's got the full ambidextrous arsenal working -- pick-and-pop from 12-18, lefty finish, righty finish, razor-precise high post feed to a cutting teammate — he really is a sight to behold. He had the Raptors announcers gushing. He finished 9-13 from the floor for 22 pts to go with 12 boards. Alas, when the offense ground to a halt in the second half, he was largely MIA. Probably more the fault of a combo of poor coaching by Mark Jackson and poor floor management by Monta and Nate Robinson (who had likely his worst game as a Warrior) than any fault of Lee's own, but still: it would be nice to Lee take control a bit more in crunchtime.
Brandon Rush. Had an off-night from the perimeter (3-7 fg, 0-3 from three), but I loved his activity and octopus-like arms on defense and on the glass. 9 boards in 31 minutes. I think he'll always be a bit plodding and mechanical for a shooting guard, but I guess I'm so inured to the Warriors being undersized at SG that it's refreshing to see a guy with his size and length defending the perimeter and crashing the glass. Throw in the dead-eye from 3 (still .471 this season, and .428 career) and you have a guy who I could live with at starting shooting guard for a while, depending on this pre-trade-deadline period shakes out.
Andris Biedrins. Had a plus-minus of +1 -- best on the team!!! Seriously, I know I said I wouldn't rip on people, but will this guy please go away? Or better yet: come back from whatever planet he's been inhabiting the past three years? I have no idea whether it's more physical (abdominal?) or psychological at this point, but I'm not sure I've ever seen a guy who seems more absent on the floor than Beans does these days. He makes me think of that scene in Annie Hall where the spirit of Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) leaves her body during sex with Alvy Singer (Woody Allen)...
Alvy Singer: Is it my imagination, or are you just going through the motions?
Ghost of Annie Hall: Alvy, do you remember where I put my drawing pad? Because while you two are doing that, I think I'm going to do some drawing.
Alvy Singer: [gesturing to the ghost] You see, that's what I call removed.
Yep, that's basically Andris Biedrins playing hoops. He'd seems like he'd way rather be drawing. Heck, he seems like he'd way rather be having sex with Woody Allen.
OK, onto DC. Today's
Goes to David Lee.