No Parker? No problem

By Clinton Hosannah
Updated: February 13, 2008

Toronto RaptorsTORONTO — Without Tony Parker and in spite of a fourth quarter rally by the Toronto Raptors, the San Antonio Spurs, led by Manu Ginobili’s season-high 34 points and career-high 15 rebounds, gave the Raps their third consecutive home loss 93-88.

Ginobili could not be stopped. Country mate Carlos Delfino tried, but to no avail. At best Delfino was a mere nuisance, kind of like a fly that just kept coming back.

“We have to do a better job sometimes, of running guys like Ginobili off the three point line,” said coach Mike Evans, who was on the side lines in place of Sam Mitchell who was not there because his father-in-law passed away.

“When he’s got it going on the perimeter like that, at the three point line, we got to do a better job of running him off.”

But the Dinos did not lose because of Ginobili’s play alone. The team continues to struggle with their inability to be consistent under the rim, and in getting rebounds. They are not anticipating the bounces and they are not following up on shots.

They are also continuing to allow teams to penetrate their perimeter defense.

“It’s just effort,” said Chris Bosh about the work needed to remedy the rebound issue. “It’s not really a science it’s not like offence, it’s pure effort and I think sometimes we just get caught ball watching sometimes and that kind of hurts us, when we give up second chance points, that initial defense, that’s just thrown away.”

The game was great to watch. The fans at the Air Canada Center went wild during the fourth quarter when the Raptors came to within three points, twice. With 15 seconds left the Raps missed the long rebound off of an un-characteristic Ginobili miss.

That one play, or lack there of, sealed the deal for the Spurs win.

The Spurs are the league’s championship team and they are extremely fluid. Even without Tony Parker. During the first quarter the Raptors did not get on the score board until three minutes and 27 seconds into the quarter and after the Spurs had scored nine points.

San Antonio’s onslaught was so relentless, that Tim Duncan only played five minutes and seven seconds of the second quarter. “That’s why they’re world champions. They know how to win the close games…half time they were up 15,” said Evans.

“They made the appropriate plays and decisions that enabled them to win the game. I can’t do anything but be proud of the way that we crawled back.”

There were some bright spots throughout the evening for the Raptors. Jose Calderon played his heart out in a great showing of intestinal fortitude that gave him a career high 27 points by games end.

He did all of this despite the fact that he heard Gilbert Arenas wrote, on the injured Wizard’s blog earlier in the day, that the Raptors’ guard was at least twenty years away from being an All Star.

“I try to get better everyday in practice and games, that’s my job. I don’t worry about what the stars are,” said Calderon. “I feel really comfortable with my teammates.”

And about the Arenas comments, Calderon decided to take the higher road.

“Everybody has an opinion, you can like the way I play or not, you can write about it, [also] it doesn’t matter. Whatever he said is good with me, [but] I think he’s a good player,” said Calderon.

Although Andrea Bargnani was held to12 points, he attacked the basket and dropped two threes, shooting 50 per-cent from the perimeter. Overall, the Dinos played with high intensity; in the end the team most people thought would win, won.

The night was also a homecoming of sorts for former Raptors Damon Stoudamire and Matt Bonner. “It’s always nice to come back here and play,” said Stoudamire, who was just acquired by San Antonio a week ago.

The guard is still adjusting to San Antonio ball and is looking forward to making meaningful contributions to the team. “I’m just trying to feel my way right now, it’s still early, I only been here really a week,” said Stoudamire.

“[I will] Get the plays down, and then once I can quit thinking and just go play, I’ll be alright.”