Game Notes: Rockets at Raptors
Mensah-Bonsu torches former team.
Don’t try to tell me this wasn’t personal.
After a summer of lobbying hard via Twitter about his desire to return to Toronto, former fan favorite Pops Mensah-Bonsu ripped apart his former team to the tune of 17 points, 7 rebounds and 5 blocks in just over 23 minutes of burn in his return to the Air Canada Centre.
All while rocking his trademark ear-to-ear grin.
Talk about being a cold blooded killer.
After the game he was asked if this game was personal and he quickly brushed off the suggestion.
“Definitely not personal,” he insisted while sporting his trademark grin. “This was the first place where I really got a chance to play or shine in the NBA and I’ve got a soft spot for this place. I just wanted to come out and make sure I played hard.”
Playing hard is something that seems to come easy for Mensah-Bonsu. Last season he won over the fans in Toronto with this high-energy style of play and less then a month into his time as a Houston Rocket he’s already starting to win over his new head coach.
Despite getting off to a slow start in Houston, it appears the coaching staff is starting to warm up to what he can bring to the team and are realizing all the intangibles he can bring to their team.
“Pops was very good tonight,” a stoic Rick Adelman told the media after the game. “He came into the game in the second half and he was more demanding of what he needed to do. Instead of observing or standing (around), he was forcing the issue. That’s what he can give you. He can give you a lot of energy when he comes into the game.”
Heading into training camp it appeared as though Houston established a big man rotation in David Andersen, Joey Dorsey, Chuck Hayes and Carl Landry, with Mensah-Bonsu on the outside looking in.
Not the kind of situation that would give any player confidence about their role and status with the team.
Worried that he might not even get a chance to show what he can do after a DNP-CD in his first preseason game, Mensah-Bonsu admitted to the media tonight his confidence started to suffer earlier this month.
“It was more so me just trying to help my team out,” Mensah-Bonsu admitted when asked if he was putting in some extra effort tonight in front of the fans in Toronto. “I feel like I was starting to doubt myself in some of the other preseason games and I wanted to come out and show the team what I can do.”
Something that helped with his confidence is the increased minutes he’s been given as the preseason has progressed. Mensah-Bonsu’s had a DNP-CD in his first preseason game, saw his role increase to12 minutes against Boston, 23 minutes against Orlando and 23 minutes again tonight.
Nothing earth shattering, but just enough to help him regain his swagger.
“When you’ve got the trust of the coach that is going to do nothing but help your confidence,” Mensah-Bonsu explained after the game. “If coach is going to put me out there then I’m going to keep doing him proud and make him look smart.”
While Mensah-Bonsu is now in Houston making that franchise look smart for picking him up, there are countless fans in Toronto wondering why the team elected not to retain his rights for this season.
With a couple more games like this and there could be plenty of teams around the NBA wondering why Houston was one of the few teams to show an interest in the talented forward this past summer.