Well unless you have been living under a rock you know that tonight is a new era for the Toronto Raptors. Sam Mitchell was fired and Jay Triano has been named his interim replacement. All of this and the Raptors will be on ESPN as well against the Utah Jazz. To know what we can expect is anybodies guess. Jay Triano has had one practice as the head coach so you can't expect a lot of changes as far as scheme. The attitude is another matter. If the Raptors can not get up for this game they really are the walking dead. National T.V and your coach has been fired. Raptors need to respond with effort. The Jazz were having some injury issues but playing through them and doing well. No Carlos Boozer which will be helpful for the Raptors effort to get a win. But his replacement Paul Millsap has been taking advantage with Boozer sidelined. AK-47 has had a bad ankle of late and is a question mark for this one but he would go.
First play of Triano era a success a feed down to Bragnani for a dunk inside. Jermaine O'Neal would score in the paint and the start and this game had started like the one in Denver. Raptors started that game well which we forget. But just as in Denver the Raptors had a 6-0 start. Anthony Parker had 4 straight points still sporting that black eye. Raptors were off to a 10-4 advantage early. Jazz would rattle off 7 straight to take an 11-10 lead. Bryan Colangelo was helping out on the broadcast. But he could not have been liking the now 9-0 run by the Jazz. Causing Jay Triano to burn his first time out as the Interim head coach.
The run has now climbed to 11-0 and the Jay Triano era did not look much different from the Sam Mitchell era. The Jazz now had a 17-10 lead and a Raptor turnover gave Jazz a chance to extend it and they did. Raptors were 0-7 and the Jazz lead was climbing thanks to a 15-0 run. Jose Calderon would finally break the run with a 3 point shot. But Paul Millsap would get a two in response and Deron Williams had a steal and score. Williams had 10 and Raptors looked much the same as they had on this entire trip. Raptors got a basket and a foul for Bargnani and later a 3-ball from Kapono and the lead was down to 4 for the Jazz. But the Jazz started another run of 6-0 highlighted by an AK-47 alley opp dunk. Jermaine O'Neal had 3 fouls already in the first quarter and Almond was at the line for the Jazz. He extended the run to 8-0. Roko Ukic would score on a drive but the Raptors trailed by 10 after one 33-23. New coach but a pretty similar effort compare to what we have seen on this trip. That was obviously a concern.
One thing I forgot to mention is that Bryan Colangelo mentioned in his visit to broadcast booth a couple interesting things. The first that he was having a lot of conversations about finding another big to bring in to the roster. He also said we should hear something on Nathan Jawai soon. Do the two go together? Only Bryan Colangelo knows for sure. But you can bet he will be working the phones a bit harder after that first half.
Utah would start the second quarter on yet another run. They would score the first 5 points of the quarter. Joey Graham would break the run with a drive, a basket, plus a foul. Joey made the free throw for the 3-point play the old school way. Joey would drive and score again but the Jazz were getting it done on offense and the Raptor defense looked like swiss cheese. A Bosh basket followed by a created turnover and score for Toronto and the Raptors cut it back to 10 point lead at 42-32.
Kyle Korver made a 3 pointer and Jazz get another 2 pointer and they were up 15 with the score 47-32. Millsap had a very easy basket in the paint and this was looking like a replay of what happened in Denver minus Sam Mitchell. A Bosh turnover would lead to Matt Harpring getting fouled. He would split a pair and it was 52-34 Jazz with still well over 5 minutes to play. Joey Graham adds to his highlight reel with a dunk. Joey had 7 for the Raptors and was playing well but he was one of few that were. Another basket for Joey and he was trying to bring the Raps back with score 52-40. But Kyle Korver had a 3-ball to answer for the Jazz. Jose Calderon would pick off a truly brutal attempt at a pass. Calderon would take it all the way for rare transition bucket. That is something Jay Triano has indicted he wants to see more of with the Raptors running. Raptors were showing flashes of hustle but flashes were not going to be good enough. Williams would get banged up but remain in the game for the Jazz who had a healthy lead of 64-48. Chris Bosh would miss a shot and he was just 3-9 on the night. Raptors would get one last chance to score with a time out called with 3.9 seconds left in the half. A Bargnani shot from half court was not what Triano drew up in the huddle I am thinking. But that is what the Raptors would get and it would not fall. So the score remained 64-48 Jazz at the half.
So could Jay Triano come up with a good half time speech and get this team on the comeback trail? I mean what kind of a speech really could you say. I'll give it a shot. Hey WAKE UP, YOU COST A MAN HIS JOB. YOUR ON NATIONAL T.V AND GETTING YOUR BUTTS KICKED. SHOW SOME PRIDE AND PLAY SOME BASKETBALL!!! Something like that would seem about right to me. Raptors were getting killed on the glass being out rebounded 29-18. The first play of the second half Bosh fumbled the ball and turned it over. He had not looked like himself. The Jazz would convert that turnover into a 3-pointer. Jermaine O'Neal would block a shot and come down awkwardly on that left leg. He would remain on the floor and have a terrible miss on the offensive end and he was back on the bench. The trainer looking him over. The risk of that O'Neal trade was becoming a concern. But O'Neal was quickly back up and ready to check back into the game. But maybe he shouldn't have been as the Raptors were getting killed much like they had in Denver. J.O was back and had a dunk but the Raptors were down 75-56. This game was off the rails again with an Okur 3 pointer. It was just as ugly and a little more painful to watch than the game in Denver.
Kris Humphries was out with a sore knee for Toronto. I missed that bit of info. So no Hump in garbage time which was fast approaching. Jermaine O'Neal must have felt ok as he tried to draw a charge but in stead would get called for the block his 4th foul of the game. Raptors were down 24 points. Bosh would drive to the hoop and draw a foul and head to the line. Bosh would make the free throws but it was not going to matter. The Raptors chances of winning are about as good as O.J Simpson getting out of jail on parole in 9 years. I mean Jay Triano has only had a practice and a shoot around to work with this team. So maybe this is expected. However I would have expected my effort and energy from the Raptors and I have seen little evidence of that. People blamed T.J Ford for a loss of chemistry on this team last year. But T.J is long gone and I suggest that same lack of chemistry is still here. You can blame T.J Ford, you can blame Sam Mitchell but fundamentally there are issues with this team that have extended beyond that. What they are I am really not sure. Raptors were down 87-65 by the way. The beat went on to the end of the third quarter with the Raptors down 91-67.
I'm not really sure what I can say again in this 4th quarter. I will give Jay Triano credit for one thing. Chris Bosh was not in the game for this 4th quarter. No sense in having him be out there in a situation like this. I was on Sam Mitchell at the end of his run for that. Chris Bosh gets hurt and you can start thinking about the draft lottery. Ok scratch that praise for Jay Triano cause in comes Bosh and Calderon with the Raptors down 28. I mean what the heck is the point of this. Sure Triano wants to get guys use to playing under him but there is no reason to risk you best players in a game like this under any circumstances.
I tell you this has been one of the most frustrating West Coast road trips that I can recall. I mean there have been some bad west coast trips in this team's history but I just can't recall a more disheartening one. Please take out the starters it is 97-69 for my personal sanity. This was just painful to watch. The Raptors were being totally out classed in every single way. Raptors trailed 100-71 and when Raptors give up 100 or more they are 1-8 heading to 1-9.
If this team does not find itself quickly by the end of this month of December the season could be lost and without much hope of saving it. This was always going to be a tough month. I think everyone knew that. But no one expected it to be like this. Thankfully garbage time was here without a stupid injury. That is about all there was to be thankful for. Will Solomon and Hassan Adams in with a cast of reserves. This was more than a losing streak it was a total loss of confidence. Your beat down update is Utah 108-82 with thankfully under 3 minutes to play. I am really asking myself when is pride going to kick in for this Raptor team. 110-85 is another scoreline that is a humiliating one and on ESPN to boot so everyone saw it. Jazz will dribble it out for a shot clock violation and the ugly final was 114-87. Raptors had 23 turnovers and were out rebounded 52-38 those were just 2 of about 100 reasons why the Raptors lost. The boxscores need to start coming with a parental advisory or something.
I am reminded of a line from Sam Mitchell in his early days with the Raptors. " We need to find some men on this team that want to play and if you don't than just quit " I think I nailed the quote but close enough. Some where Sam was watching this game and saying see it wasn't just me. Time will tell if he would be right in thinking that if he in fact was.