Game Notes: Raptors at Mavs
Josh Howard triumphantly returns.
by Justin Walsh
Saturday, November 7 was an interesting day in basketball. Layups were made, jumpers were taken, balls bouncing, Allen Iverson leaves a team because of the roster makeup… You know, the usual. In more relevant news, the Toronto Raptors flew down to Dallas to take on the Mavs.
– About 75 minutes before game time, it’s announced that Josh Howard will finally return to the lineup. Rick Carlisle is hesitant to give any real indication of how much playing time he will receive. Case in point: (When asked for a ball-park figure of how many minutes he’ll see) “We’ll see… I think the most important thing about this is that he’s gone through one process, having two surgeries in one day, with basically a six-month rehab. And now he’s working to get back on the floor again. I think it’s important to make sure expectations are tempered. We’re excited to see how it goes. It’s also going to a new position [playing the 2 guard with Marion at the 3].” Classic Carlisle, but can the press squeeze just a bit more from Rick’s mind grapes? (He’s pressed again on whether Josh will be in the starting lineup) “My lineup policies stay the same.” Coach is known for not making the starting five official until roughly 15 minutes before game time.
– Rick might be the most comfortably dressed coach during pre-game that I’ve ever seen. He’s got the all-white New Balance walking shoes with a Mavericks jump-suit; in short, he looks like something my grand-father might wear to a game of shuffleboard.
– In the press room, Earl K. Sneed and I are discussing the matchup; I mention that DeMar could have a solid game tonight & he feels this game is going to be a Josh Howard special. One of these predictions were on point. The other was just a bit outside, so to speak.
Thoughts On The Game
– Well what do you know; Josh Howard did start after all. Returning to action after missing the start of the season due to left ankle surgery, J-Ho finished the game with 16 points 4 rebounds and a game high 3 steals. He was smart to go early and often in the first quarter, driving in on the rookie DeRozan for 7 points in the opening quarter. His ankle held up well & had no problems changing direction.
– Speaking of DeRozan, I was completely off on my prediction that he would have a solid game. In 17 minutes of action, DeMar finished with 2 points, 0-2 from the FT line, 1 rebound and 5 fouls. In contrast, human trillion machine, Marcus Banks had 4 points on 2-2 shooting with 2 assists in just 5 minutes of PT. This game will certainly be one to look back on as a learning experience.
– Dirk went bananas. That’s all you can really say. In the 3rd quarter alone, Dirk had 13 points on 4-6 shooting (3-4 from deep) and 4 rebounds. And he was half of the Mavs catalyst that made a 30-14 scoring run from 2:01 in the 2nd until 5:25 in the 3rd. He finished with 29 points and 9 rebounds.
– The other half of that 3rd quarter surge? Shawn Marion. In the 3rd, he notched 10 points and 3 rebounds on 100% shooting. This game was clearly a blast from the past (Suns edition), as the Matrix went off for 18 points on 9-11 shooting with 8 rebounds.
– This wasn’t from the game, but during half-time, we were treated to the weirdest of shows. A Michael Jackson tribute featuring a man dressed up as Jackson… with 4 marionette Michael Jacksons attached to his body with various rods to control their movement. It was a Michael Jackson dance line. It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. If Ron Artest was there, it would have been a swan song to sanity and the King of Pop (I cry for Mike, I cry for Mike, I cry for Mike).
– In a game where Toronto got mollywhopped 129-101, one can’t forget Chris Bosh’s performance. He dropped 26 points and 12 rebounds in 31 minutes of PT. And the rumors are true: He did gain 15 pounds of muscle, he did improve on his inside game, and he did work on his 3 point shot. He was the majority of Toronto’s 17 second chance points, thanks to his rebounding in the paint & it’s going to be awfully difficult to guard Bosh when he makes that outside jumper of his. He also had the best dunk of the week, yamming on Erick “2nd Best Center” Dampier on an and-1.
–Josh Howard on how he felt after his first game of the season…
“It felt pretty good; you know getting back into the swing of things. Trying to be out there for my team today, that was it. I had a good time out there. “
On his play at the shooting guard spot…
“I’m not going to fall into the shooting guard thing, as far as shooting the ball all the time. I’m going to continue to play my game and get to the basket, drawing fouls, go to the line; [get back to] some of that stuff while I was out for the preseason and the first couple of games. I’m not going to change my game because I think that will mess up the chemistry of the team.”
On the team chemistry…
“The ripping on each other is just something to keep the locker room alive. We enjoy doing that, but for the most past like I have always said, it is doing the things like going over to any one of these guys’ house and have dinner and spend the night and I won’t have to worry about being kicked out and that is a good feeling to have. All of these guys know that they are more than welcome to come to my house, but that is just the off the court stuff. On the court, we have to stick together as a team if we want to get wins.”
On how his ankle feels…
“Of course, I’m fatigued and I have to work through the process of getting back to 100 percent, which I am not. But, I’m just glad to get out there and play with my team and give them some kind of effort. I’m working on that.
–Coach Carlisle was asked about Josh Howard’s strong performance. His response:
“Well, Josh was aggressive. That’s what he is, it’s his nature. I felt the best thing to do was to start him. He’s going to be one of our starters and one of our best players. I thought the guys playing with him did a good job of understanding the situation. They were looking to get him opportunities to attack, get to the free-throw line etc, so that was good.” He continued, “He’s definitely one of our high energy guys. When the group on the court sets that tone, I think it becomes a little contagious and that probably helps the guys coming off the bench, but I’m not ready to say this is like a magic wand and all of a sudden we have energy as a team. “
On Shawn Marion’s game…
“Shawn’s play was terrific, he’s starting to really get his conditioning now after missing those 10 days near the middle section of training camp, which was something that set him back a little bit. He’s playing a different style of play, especially with that first group, but I think he’s starting to adapt to it a little bit better. So we’re going to continue working on that.”