Game Notes: Raptors 116 – Celtics 109

Here are some at-the-buzzer observations and analysis from The Gondola about the Raptors’ third preseason game of the year:

  • I thought it was interesting that Boston’s first points were a three-pointer by Brandon Bass and Toronto’s first points were a long two by Amir Johnson.
  • DeRozan oozing confidence. Hit a three-pointer early in first quarter from just to the left of the tip of the arc and nailed another tough three early in the second half. Avery Bradley is noted for being a strong defender but he had problems slowing DeRozan down throughout the game. Even a larger Evan Turner had his share of issues. DeRozan finished with 18 points with relative ease.
  • Boston started game 3-10 from the field and finished the first quarter shooting 42% (8-19) from the field. Throw in five turnovers and it’s the kind of defensive effort which had to make Dwane Casey smile after he blasted his team’s effort on the defensive end against the Sacramento Kings.
  • Raptors went on a 11-5 run when they went small with DeMar DeRozan, Lou Williams and Kyle Lowry at the end of the first quarter. The scoring spark was expected, but a pleasant surprise was seeing how that trio shared and moved the ball among themselves as well as with Patrick Patterson and Tyler Hansbrough.
  • Things fell apart in the second quarter as Toronto allowed Boston to shoot 5-7 from the field to start the quarter. This helped Boston steal the lead back at 37-36. Things didn’t get get better before the half ended as Boston went 12-19 from the field in the second quarter. Avery Bradley was one of the main benefactors for a lethargic defensive effort from Toronto as he went off for 17 points in the second quarter. Ouch.
  • Jonas Valanciunas had six rebounds in his first 10 minutes of playing time. He finished with nine boards in 22 minutes.
  • Kyle Lowry picked up his fifth foul early in the third quarter. Weird considering Lowry rarely found himself in foul trouble. Perhaps he was pressing too much against Boston’s relatively inexperienced point guards.
  • Greivis Vasquez grabbed the opportunity and score 13 points in his first 15 minutes of burn. He finished the game with 13 points in 19 minutes.
  • Terrence Ross has bulked up this season which will help him defend larger wing players. However, James Johnson is an even better option on the defensive end at this point. Casey has a lot more options now than he had against the Nets last year in the playoffs.
  • I loved Kyle Lowry picking Kelly Olynyk’s pocket in the fourth quarter. Despite having five fouls, Lowry went after the steal and it resulted in two easy points for the Raptors. It also gave the team a much-needed bump in energy.
  • Toronto put the clamps on Boston defensively in the fourth quarter. After allowing 93 points through the first three quarters, Toronto held Boston to six points through the first seven minutes of the quarter (a 26-6 run). Boston only scored 16 points in the fourth quarter.

LeBron James Says Another Title Likely Would Have Kept Him With Miami Heat


Ira Winderman
Sun Sentinel
Displayed with permission from MCT Information Services

MIAMI — In an interview to air Friday on CNN, LeBron James acknowledged that with three more victories in June he likely would have remained with the Miami Heat instead of signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers in July as a free agent.

In the interview with Rachel Nichols for the network’s Unguarded program that airs Fridays at 10:30 p.m. EDT, James said a third consecutive Heat championship likely would have preempted his eventual return to Cleveland. The Heat instead lost 4-1 in the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs.

“It’s a greater chance, for sure,” he said. “I mean, it would be hard to leave back-to-back-to-back championships and try to go for four. But, obviously, you really can’t live and think of what may have happened. For me, I’ve always been a person [to] kind of live in the moment.”

He said seeking his third championship after switching teams will present new challenges.

“I understand what it takes to get there,” he said of his four-year Heat tenure, which included four trips to the NBA Finals and championships in 2012 and ’13. “I understand what it takes to win. It’s so difficult. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”


Danny Ferry Gathering Support From Around NBA

Chris Vivlamore
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Displayed with permission from MCT Information Services

Danny Ferry is gathering support from around the NBA as the embattled Hawks general manager has seen his character questioned in recent weeks following the latest firestorm that has engulfed the franchise.

“For over 30 years I have had the pleasure to call Danny my best friend,” said Nets general manager Billy King, who had Ferry in his wedding party. “He has been there for me through my toughest times as well the good. Danny, I feel as a GM, is always looking to build a team that the city he represents would be proud to support. He thinks team first as he leads.”

Ferry is on an indefinite leave of absence after it surfaced this month that he said Luol Deng had “some African in him” during a conference call with ownership and management about potential free agents in June. The comment set off an organization-wide investigation that uncovered a racially inflammatory email written by co-owner Bruce Levenson in 2012. It resulted in the controlling owner and his Washington partners agreeing to sell their stake in the team.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke with several African-American coaches and front-office personnel around the NBA who have worked with Ferry to get their reaction to the comment. The support Ferry has received during the past month may not ultimately save his job with the Hawks. CEO Steven Koonin disciplined Ferry and intended to keep him in the position. However, Ferry asked for and was granted the leave on Sept. 12. NBA Commissioner has publicly said he does not believe Ferry should be fired but later said the leave of absence was appropriate. The final decision of Ferry’s future in Atlanta may well rest with the new controlling owner.

Those who spoke with the AJC spoke said they felt compelled to say that the comment was out of character. Ferry has declined comment since issuing a statement upon his leave of absence.

Ferry resigned as Cavaliers general manager after ownership fired head coach Mike Brown in 2010. Four years later, Brown is coming to his defense.

“I cannot say enough about Danny Ferry and the opportunity he gave me as a first time head coach,” Brown said. “The relationship we had at work and away from work, will be hard for me to duplicate going forward. The roller coaster ride of emotions we experienced together were easily navigated because of the blind trust we had for one another personally and professionally. We might not always agree with one another, but we could always count on having each other’s back by being on the same page when it was time to make a decision.

“And, toward the end of my first tenure with the Cavaliers, Danny never wavered in his belief in me.”

Magic Johnson sent out a series of posts on Twitter on Tuesday after the two had a lengthy meeting at Ferry’s request. Johnson, who immediately called for Ferry to be fired, said his apology was sincere and that he deserved a second chance. Ferry has also met with Atlanta community and civil and human rights leaders.

“I’m glad that Magic sat down and talked to him,” King said. “That was one of the problems I had. Everybody was attacking him without knowing him. Magic probably met him but he didn’t really know him. That’s what happens. You have to know the person before you label him something. Like Donald Sterling, everybody knew that’s who he was. That’s why so many of us came out so strongly (in support) because we have a long history of knowing (Ferry).”

Melvin Hunt, who was an assistant coach with the Cavaliers during Ferry’s tenure, also came to the defense of Ferry.

“I know this guy, I know him,” said Hunt, now an assistant with the Nuggets. “Danny’s ability to both appreciate and welcome differences was another strength of his when leading our organization. Not only did he know the importance of variety and diversity, he looked for it. Our staff over the years covered the full spectrum of diversity.

“I have said this many times. Danny Ferry can be accused of many things, but I would never use racist. Knowing his parents intimately and his upbringing, I am confident that Danny is anything but driven by a person’s color or ethnic background. I believe Danny made a mistake that he should not be characterized by.”

Tim Duncan categorized Ferry’s comment as a mistake but said he is not a racist in an interview with a San Antonio radio station Wednesday.

Duncan spoke to KZDC and defended Ferry. The two were teammates on the Spurs for three seasons. Ferry also served in the organization’s front office on two different occasions with Duncan as a player.

“Knowing Danny, he’s not what everybody’s saying about him,” Duncan told the station. “He’s not a racist. … He said something absolutely wrong and he regrets it. He’s not a racist. I know him well enough to feel comfortable saying that.”