Rumblin’, Bumblin’, And Stumblin’……..

By Clinton Hosannah
Updated: March 4, 2008

Toronto RaptorsTORONTO — After Chris Bosh left the game, due to an aggravated knee injury he had possibly received during the contest against the Timberwolves two days before, there was no leadership on the court for the Toronto Raptors, and that’s why the Pacers got away with a game the Raptors should have won.

It was painful to watch the Raptors fumble, stumble and struggle in a ball game wrought with turnovers, steals against and shots that just wouldn’t fall into the rim.

The Pacers dominated, they blocked shots and rained threes and deuces down upon the Raps; all this from a team who came into the game with a record of 22-36.

The Pacers were short Jermaine O’Neal, Jamaal Tinsley and of course Danny Granger, who was suspended one game for hitting Andres Nocioni, last Wednesday.

However, Mike Dunleavy had a great game, dropping a career-high 36 points, including six of which were threes. Ironically the three point champ, Jason Kapono, did not drain any threes and only had one attempt in 20 minutes of play.

“It’s tough when they swing the ball and every spot they’re beating you off the dribble. Then you come and help and then they hit a three. You know what happens after that, a guy hits a couple threes everybody gets reluctant to leave their man and then it just breaks down and breaks down and breaks down,” said Raptors’ Coach Sam Mitchell.

The problems run deeper though. It was disheartening to see the Raptors so confused after CB4 left the game with 2:23 left in the first quarter. They never really recovered after his departure. The pain was reinforced in the third when they shined for a few brilliant minutes.

With 7:26 left in the third quarter, the Dinos went on a run that netted them 16 unanswered points bringing them to within one point. An offensive foul by Jamario Moon would break that momentum and that energy would never be generated again throughout the rest of the game.

“It was definitely, a lot of times, a game of runs and momentum in that sense but when you get down so much and you spend so much energy trying to claw your way back, it’s difficult at that point,” said Raptors’ shooting guard Anthony Parker who finished the night with 25 points.

One can understand that every game is not going to be executed with perfection.

But the Raptors have a weird way of beating great team — like when they hurt the Spurs 88-73 back in December at San Antonio. Then, they will lose against bad teams as they lost against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden 103-99.

How will the Raptors deal with their leadership problems? How will they be ready to adjust whenever Bosh can’t play? Right now he is slated to be out for a week with a bruised and aggravated right knee.

“That’s the thing we talk to our players about, that’s why you got to be ready to play, everybody complains about minutes, what are you going to do when you get your chance,” said Mitchell.

“It’s always the coach, everybody needs to look in the mirror and when you get your opportunity to play go play. Go do something, be a presence on the court, bring some energy. Do the things that we work on every single day in practice.”

This is the challenge for Bryan Colangelo’s management team. Because of the movements made by trade deadline it is safe to assume that the Raptors’ management is not looking to make too many changes to the club’s roster.

But a veteran that is more effective on the court, physically and vocally, than Darrick Martin, could definitely be an asset to this team of emerging superstars. But who do you trade, a young and promising Jamario Moon? You would get a lot of love for him. Or do you gamble away a burgeoning Bargnani?

You won’t get any attention for Jorge Garbajosa but Kris Humphries could garner some suitors if he were dealt along with a draft pick. Maybe the club will try to develop one of the guys that have been around for a minute.

There is an option with Anthony Parker. His demeanor and ability on the court could earn him the respect from his teammates. No one but Colangelo knows what he will do to remedy the leadership situation.

One thing is for certain, Chris Bosh better be healthy for the playoffs.