Still Seeking An Identity In Toronto

By Clinton Hosannah
Updated: November 28, 2008

Toronto Raptors TORONTO — When you factor that the Charlotte Bobcats haven’t won any games on the road this season and went into the game with a 4-9 record, the Raptors 93-86 victory over the troubled team was not an impressive win at all.

A W is a W but Jason Richardson wasn’t even in the rotation for the Bobcats on Wednesday. That fact alone should have made Toronto’s job a lot easier.

Instead they barely won and in fact, the Bobcats came to within one point during the fourth quarter.

Yes, the Raptors played a little better defense but they are still getting devoured in the paint. The only good thing about the game for the Dinos was minutes starved Joey Graham going for seventeen points in twenty one minutes playing time.

It’s the most minutes and points he’s seen all season.

Graham was five for five at the charity line pulled six rebounds and was six of eight from the field and lit a fire under the rest of his team mates by virtue of his own intensity; Something seldom seen from Graham.

“The things Joey did are the things we talk about,” said Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell. “The way he played, I wouldn’t be fair if come Friday he didn’t get an opportunity to play.”

But Joey Graham having a good night is not enough. He might be one of the most athletic guys on the team but at best he’s inconsistent. What is consistent though is this theme of Chris Bosh scoring 35 plus a game while the other starters combine for less than 30.

Four points for Kapono, three for Moon and five for Parker is simply not going to do it. To make it more severe, none of those guys went to the three throw line even once.

As a result of the Raptors starters not mixing it up under the rim the Bobcats had 20 more points in the paint than the Dinos and outclassed the Raptors on second chance points.

They’d have to do better than that in their next game (Friday against Atlanta at the Air Canada Centre) and on the beginning their West coast trip starting in Los Angeles on Sunday.

According to Mitchell and Bosh, the team is starting from ground zero and the season is still young. “The people within this organization, starting with Bryan and Richard (Peddie) and my self understand that this is a long season,” said Coach Mitchell.

So there are about 70 games left to be played for the season. Why can’t the Raptors play each game like they it was their last? Can it be that they are okay with mediocrity?

Is there no fear that CB4 might want to leave with his superstar ability and put them to use on a team where he can get something more than excuses and mediocrity from his fellow players and from his coach?

Arguably the Raptors seem to lack identity. Coach Mitchell is supposed to be providing that identity. But a coach needs to have some credibility in order to get absolute trust from his team. Then the young men will listen.

Unfortunately Mitchell is not much older than his charges and doesn’t have an amazing career to fall back on to be able to say he was there and did that. As a result the team goes into a game looking like they are trying to adjust to the way their opponent is playing.

They should be playing their own game and forcing their opponents to adjust to them.