CANOE Network SLAM!Sports

 
SLAM! Sports SLAM! Basketball
  Mon, January 5, 2004


NBA NEWS
RAPTORS
NCAA BASKETBALL
SCOREBOARD
COURTSIDE BLOG
COLUMNISTS
COMMENT






PLAYER BIOS
MOVEMENTS
INJURIES
STATS


FIND A PLAYER:
CONF. STANDINGS
EAST STANDINGS
WEST STANDINGS
WEEKLY SCHEDULE
DAILY LEADERS














The Last Word
Coach Kevin O'Neill can breathe a sigh of relief knowing his Raptors have regained their urge to win following Friday's debacle against New Orleans.

By KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

It hardly was a thing of beauty but, then there is no column in the standings for aesthetics.

Neither is there a column for work ethic but this 83-73 Raptors victory over the Phoenix Suns was a lunch-bucket deal from start to finish. Coming on the heels of Friday's careless effort, when Toronto was embarrassed by the New Orleans Hornets, this workmanlike effort couldn't have been more timely.

Okay, so the Suns, on their very best days, are not to be confused with, say, the 1993 Bulls. And none of their best days ever seem to come on the road. After yesterday, they have won just three times in 20 games away from home.

But there was a sense of determination about the Toronto effort that satisfied Kevin O'Neill, their demanding coach, and allowed the players to heave a bit of a sigh of relief.

"It was all about effort," said Vince Carter, who led all scorers with 23 points and drove hard to the basket all day.

Jalen Rose also had a strong 40 minutes after playing perhaps his least productive game as a Raptor on Friday. Against Phoenix, he poured in 16 points, half of them in the fourth quarter when they outscored the Suns 25-18, slamming the door.

"It was a bit of a relief that we really came out to play today," Rose said. "We were all disappointed about the way we didn't even show up (on Friday). As it usually is, defence was the catalyst."

Early on, it looked as if this could turn into a blowout as Toronto jumped away to a 10-point lead 90 seconds into the second quarter. But the Suns lingered and eventually tied the score in the final minute of the third quarter at 55-55.

Unlike Friday, when the Raptors were unwilling to, or perhaps incapable of, engaging the Hornets physically, they were ready to take their lumps.

Never was this more evident than when willowy rookie centre Chris Bosh collided with a 6-foot-9, 290-pound brick wall named Jahidi White early in the fourth quarter. Bosh went down and may have a sprained shoulder as a result, but he gritted his teeth and stoically sucked it up. "Now it's official -- he's an NBA player," Carter said of Bosh. " That's his initiation."

Since he's only 19 and is going to be overmatched physically on occasion, there is a tendency to give Bosh a free pass when things don't go well. But O'Neill can't afford to be so caring. He's not only in charge of Bosh's development, but the overall success of the team.

He noted the explosive collision but wasn't about to ascribe Bosh any heroic attributes for doing his job.

"He became more of an NBA player (yesterday)," O'Neill said. "You should stick your nose in there. That's what you're supposed to do. In my mind, that should be more expected.

"The more contact you produce, the better your chances of having a good team."

Until and unless the Raptors are able to complement Bosh's raw talent with an experienced big body, then he and they will have to accept his growing pains, literally.

While Bosh remains a work in progress, it falls to people like Alvin Williams to provide the kind of professional model for the kid. On that score, Williams never fails.

His quiet contributions occasionally fall between the cracks, especially since the blockbuster trade that has put Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall so much in the spotlight. Yet night after night, Williams is a low-maintenance constant on this team.

"Alvin has been as consistent a performer as you would want to have on your team," O'Neill said.

As far as Williams is concerned, that kind of reputation is an end unto itself.

"There's nothing better as a professional than to be consistent, the kind of guy that everybody knows is going to give what he's got every night," Williams said. "That's what I strive to be."

The Raptors always will have their share of the spectacular with stars like Carter and Rose and Marshall. But it's the craftsman's pride that Williams embodies that will bind it all together.









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


Results | Story