Toronto Generals

By: 01.11.10

Rajon Rondo (photo. Christian Kozowyck)

Perhaps you hadn’t noticed, but the Raptors are the hottest team in the NBA. (Except when they play the Celtics, but we’ll get to that in a minute.) Having won eight of their last 10 games, one of the reasons for Toronto’s turnaround is their defense; historically soft but currently pretty solid. In the eight W’s during this stretch, the Raps have given up 93 points per night. But when they’ve come across the Celtics, the Raps still can’t get over the hump. Chris Bosh and crew’s only two losses since Dec. 16 have been to Boston, who gave them 114 points and another L yesterday. “They hit shots as soon as the game started,” Jarrett Jack said afterward. “It’s not as though we were just giving them layup after layup and it was like the Globetrotters.” … Rajon Rondo posted a triple-double (22 pts, 10 rebs, 13 asts), and early on you knew it was his day: In the first quarter he took a three with Jack draped all over him that went in off-glass, then did a great job selling it like he meant it … T-Dot had one glaring defensive lapse: Down six with under a minute to go, their biggest defensive possession of the game, and of course Paul Pierce is getting the ball. So who do you have guarding Pierce? Jay Triano went with Marco Belinelli, and guess the rest: Pierce took him to the elbow and dropped an easy pull-up for the dagger … On NBA TV the other day, Matt Harpring was picking his All-Star reserves and gave Ray Allen the last spot over Rondo. Harpring’s rationale? Ray is the guy Boston goes to when they need a big shot (we thought it was Pierce), and Ray “has deserved to go [to All-Star] the last couple years and been left out.” Huh? Ray has been to the last six All-Star Games … In yesterday’s Smack we predicted Kobe Bryant would have a monster game against the Bucks, considering L.A. was coming off back-to-back losses and Kobe had to listen to Portland fans chanting “M-V-P!” for Brandon Roy the last time out. Didn’t quite go down like that. Kobe was off, shooting 4-for-21 and finishing with 12 points, but the Lakers’ defense was so good it didn’t matter … The Bucks couldn’t get ANYTHING going: Michael Redd went scoreless (0-4 FG) before leaving with a knee injury, Brandon Jennings was 4-for-17, Andrew Bogut scored three points, and the starting five combined for 24 points. On the other end, Andrew Bynum put up 17 points and 18 boards, and Shannon Brown scored 19 in the blowout. Or put it this way: Adam Morrison got in during the first quarter …

Brandon Roy (photo. Aaron Hewitt)

Meanwhile, MVP candidate Brandon Roy hosted LeBron in Portland. LBJ started out on fire, dropping 20 in the first quarter on balanced mix of drives and jumpers, and finished the first half with 31 as the Cavs were up big at the break. B-Roy (34 pts, 14-23 FG) tried to take over in the fourth and stage a late rally, getting the Blazers within six with 1:30 left, but they never scored again and the Cavs made their free throws. LeBron ended up with 41 points, 10 boards and eight assists … Daniel Baldwin (the one who was kind of nuts on “Celebrity Fit Club” and “Celebrity Rehab” and “Wait, I’m Still Considered a Celebrity?”) was sitting courtside in a Blazers jersey. One time Shaq got pushed out of bounds and into Baldwin’s lap, where they kissed each other on the cheek. Shaq kind of aged himself on that one, though; most guys in the League below 30 probably don’t even know who Daniel Baldwin is … Other stat lines from Sunday: Tim Duncan put up 14 points and 17 rebounds to beat the Nets; Chris Kaman had 22 and 14 as the Clippers knocked off Miami; and Chris Paul had 26, 14 dimes and three steals to beat the Wizards … The Wizards organization is in full Gilbert Arenas never happened” mode — taking down the huge banner featuring Gil outside of the Verizon Center, removing him from the player-intro video, and even taking his jerseys out of the team shop — but DeShawn Stevenson isn’t giving up on his guy. D-Steve had “AGENT ZERO” written on his ankle tape yesterday … Most disturbing Twitter update of the weekend, courtesy the Blazers blog BlazersEdge from the Cleveland game: “Zydrunas Ilgauskas, in a towel, lip-synching along to ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ in the locker room.” … If you didn’t know already that we’re in one of those college basketball seasons where there isn’t one dominant team and the 20th-ranked squad could thoroughly whup #1 and it wouldn’t be that surprising, yesterday’s Kansas/Tennessee game was a reminder. The Vols (#16) just kicked their best player (Tyler Smith) off the team, they were missing three other guys due to suspension, not to mention two of their starters got in early foul trouble. And they still outplayed the top-ranked Jayhawks and pulled off the upset. We haven’t seen the new Top-25 poll yet, but we’re guessing this opens the door for Kentucky to jump Texas into the #1 spot … We’re out like the inevitable Baldwin Brothers reality show …

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