Archive for December 5th, 2008

Statement from Sam Mitchell

The Toronto Raptors recently fired head coach Sam Mitchell, replacing him with assistant Jay Triano on an interim basis. Bryan Colangelo told editor Jeff Lenchiner and other reporters on a conference call that it’s quite likely Triano will finish out the season coaching the team.

Today, Mitchell released the following statement:

“Being the head coach of the Toronto Raptors has been a true pleasure and an honour for me. I owe a debt of gratitude to many for the opportunity – the MLSE Board of Directors, particularly Larry Tanenbaum and Richard Peddie, as well as Bryan Colangelo and Rob Babcock. MLSE is a first-class organization, and I hope I have positioned the franchise to move in the right direction.

I will miss Toronto. I have grown to love the city and believe Raptors fans are among the best in all of professional sports. Together we brought to the organization its first divisional championship and I will always cherish that.

I feel that I have grown as a coach and a person over the course of my time with the Raptors. I value the relationships that I have developed with the coaching staff, players, support staff and media. I assure you that Jay Triano and the coaching staff will continue to do all they can for the franchise to reach its potential and goals.

I wish the organization all the best the remainder of this season and in the future.”

Golden State Warriors shooting guard Marco Belinelli hasn’t gotten many minutes yet in his short NBA career, and with the Warriors roster there’s no guarantee it’ll happen anytime soon. So he’ll be pretty rested up by the time international summer play arrives. But he isn’t sure of his plans yet. reports:

Marco Belinelli would like to play for Italy next summer when they attempt to reach EuroBasket 2009 via the Additional Qualifying Round but he can’t commit to the national team yet. The 22-year-old is in his second NBA season with the Golden State Warriors and his focus is on getting his career off the ground in America - something that has yet to happen. “It´s early days yet to confirm,” he said. “I would like to be there but I don´t know what my future will be in June.

I like seeing non-star NBA players in international competition. It lets us see a side of them we don’t normally see. I prefer that NBA stars sit out, because I want them to stay healthy and already know what they can do. I like seeing new stuff. If Belinelli plays for Italy, it makes me want to see them. So, hopefully he’s involved.

– editor Jeff Lenchiner

Lakers defense lacking lately

The Los Angeles Daily News (Elliot Teaford) reports: There are multiple reasons why the Lakers’ defense hasn’t been as effective as it was to start the season. No matter which you choose, the bottom line is that the Lakers aren’t dominating teams because they aren’t playing the same caliber of defense. The Lakers started their three-game trip by giving up a season-high 118 points in a one-point loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. They continued by giving up 102 during a 12-point victory Wednesday over the Philadelphia 76ers. They played the first seven games of the season without giving up 100 points in a game. But they have surrendered 100 or more points in four of their past six games and are giving up an average of 95.9 points going into tonight’s against the Washington Wizards. “We’ve talked about the kind of intensity we want to play with defensively,” Bryant said. “We have a tendency to turn it up in spurts as of late as opposed to coming out and doing it from the top, and that’s something we’ve needed to address.”

New Raptors coach debut tonight

The Globe and Mail (Michael Grange) report: One of the most accomplished players in Canadian basketball history, Jay Triano, 50, will make his debut as the Toronto Raptors’ bench boss tonight in Salt Lake against the Utah Jazz, becoming the first Canadian-born head coach in the NBA. Those in the NBA and elsewhere in the basketball community are optimistic about his chance to succeed. “I think he’ll be fantastic,” NBA star and fellow Canadian Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns said. “He absolutely loves the game of basketball. He’s passionate, a workaholic, and the kind of coach guys love to be around. He’s got all the ingredients to be an NBA coach.” “He’s got extreme confidence, extreme knowledge of the game,” said Tony Ronzone, the Detroit Pistons’ director of basketball operations. “He can adjust to different styles of play. I’d think he’s going to be terrific.”

Sean May gets first double-double

The Charlotte Observer (Rick Bonnell) reports: Charlotte Bobcats forward Sean May assembled a double-double, his first in 21 injury-filled months. That was the foremost of many surprises in a 103-97 victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Time Warner Cable Arena on Wednesday night. May’s conditioning was such a disappointment that after starting the opener he was shelved for several games. He’s worked his way back into the lineup, and finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. May’s contribution wasn’t the biggest factor, but it was surely the most unexpected. “When I came out, Mike asked if I needed an oxygen mask,” May said of Jordan’s needling next to the team bench. “I said, ‘No, just give me a minute.’”

Dec 4: Spurs 108, Nuggets 91

The AP reports: Tony Parker scored 22 points, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili each added 21 and the San Antonio Spurs took advantage of a rare poor performance by Chauncey Billups since he arrived in Denver to whip the Nuggets 108-91 on Thursday night. The Nuggets had won 12 of 15 since acquiring Billups from Detroit in the Allen Iverson trade… In the first half, Billups scored just 3 points on 1-of-7 shooting and he doled out but a single assist. Billups scored nine points in the irrelevant fourth quarter to finish with 12. Carmelo Anthony led Denver with 16, and J.R. Smith had 15 points and 10 boards off the bench. The Spurs shot 56 percent, racing out to a 61-41 halftime lead that put this one in the win column early—not a single time in their history have the Nuggets overcome a deficit of 20 or more points.

Dec 4: Mavs 112, Suns 97

The AP reports: Maybe it was facing buddy Steve Nash. Maybe it was having two point guards in the starting lineup. Maybe it was the way Phoenix kept switching defenders against him without ever finding a stopper. Something put Dirk Nowitzki into quite the scoring mood. Nowitzki scored 37 points in three quarters and wound up tying his season high of 39, and the Dallas Mavericks continued their recent surge with perhaps their best performance of the season in a 112-97 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night… “We haven’t found a rhythm or a good balance yet,” said Nash, who had 20 points and 10 assists without playing the fourth quarter… Amare Stoudemire led Phoenix with 28 points but got his fifth foul late in the third quarter and wasn’t a factor after that… Barea, who earned the start by hitting the winning shot in the final minute of the previous game, finished with a season-best 18 points. Terry scored 19, continuing his strong play off the bench to make up for the scoring punch lost by Josh Howard being out with an ankle injury. Dallas is 6-1 in the seven straight games he’s missed.

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