Raptors take a lickin' but keep on tickin'

Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors'Jose Calderon....

Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors'Jose Calderon. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

MIKE GANTER, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:17 PM ET

BOSTON — Jarrett Jack won’t have to worry about over-confidence setting in.

That 51-point win over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday in the Raptors first pre-season game of eight this year was a distant memory by the end of the first quarter in Boston.

The Raptors got a much better indication of what they are up against after Sunday’s 91-87 loss to the Celtics before a surprisingly robust sellout crowd at the TD Garden.

But the lasting memory Jack will have of this game and what he hopes his teammates take from it is that the Raptors no longer have to come into this building and wilt at the sight of a Kevin Garnett or a Paul Pierce or a Ray Allen — or anyone else in Celtic green.

Jack has only been a member of this the Raptors for one full season but he distinctly remembers coming in here last year and leaving feeling like he had just been patted on the head by an older brother after a beatdown.

One of those “Nice try kid, now run on home to your momma.”

“I’m just glad guys didn’t back down,” Jack said. “I’ve only been here a year but in the past it seemed like those guys would just impose their will on us. We would just kind of put our hands up and back pedal a couple of steps. Today, I thought we stood there, We fought hard.

“It’s obvious just looking at them they’re probably the biggest team in the league. We’re very undersized compared to them but I thought we kept fighting.”

The Raptors even drew first blood for those counting at home as Glen (Big Baby) Davis left in the first quarter with a tissue staunching the flow of blood from his nose after a collision with Raptors centre David Andersen.

As much as any team can learn anything about itself from a meaningless pre-season game, Jack said the competitiveness he saw up and down the bench, particularly after such a laboured start to the game, gives him hope.

“I thought our competitiveness kept us in the game,” Jack said. “If that is the one thing we can bring to the table every night, I think we’ll be all right.”

Another different starting unit

As promised, Triano sent out a different starting five than he did in the first game against Phoenix.

Joining the starting five were point guard Jack and forward Sonny Weems, with Jose Calderon and Linas Kleiza coming off the bench.

The move allowed Triano to get a look at Weems and DeMar DeRozan who played the shooting guard and small forward positions on the floor together. Last Wednesday in Vancouver, Triano had Weems basically subbing in for DeRozan. He wanted to get a better look at them playing together.

The Shaq Impact

Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t look any smaller in Celtic green than he did in Cavaliers wine.

And Jack can tell you from first-hand experience, he’s no softer.

Midway through the third quarter Jack was driving to the basket with his head down when O’Neal jumped in his path. Before Jack could react he hit the big man full speed and bounced right back, but fortunately had someone there to soften the blow.

“It wasn’t that bad for me because I ran into him and he knocked me into Ray Allen. So I kind of had an air bag — which was Ray Allen. Sucks for him, but it helped me.”

And as for a description of a full-speed impact into Shaq’s bulk: “It was definitely running into a wall if you ever want to experience that.”

Turtle-slow start

Andrea Bargnani swears he is nowhere close to getting concerned about a slow start after just two games.

Perhaps it’s best if he doesn’t look too closely at the boxscores.

In two games and just under 48 minutes of play, Bargnani, a shooter by reputation, has made just two of 17 attempts.

“I have to find my rhythm, that’s all,” Bargnani said. “I have to keep playing, keep shooting and it will come. I’ve never in my life worried about my offence. There’s never been a reason to worry, so I’m not going to be worried about two pre-season games for sure.”

more practice

With no one pushing them off the court yesterday at their shootaround, Triano took the opportunity to run a practice, something he doesn’t normally do on game day, but something he says he will do this season if he feels his team needs it.

A quick perusal of the stat sheet suggests a good chunk of today’s practice should be spent at the free throw line. The Raps were good on just 16 of 27 from the charity stripe which is a woeful 59%.

Strong finish

At one point midway through the second quarter, it looked entirely possible that the Raptors would not score 60 points. Fortunately for them, things improved drastically in the second half.

“I think in the first half we sat back a little bit,” Triano said. “You come in and you have to learn how to play with the intensity that we want to have (right from the opening tip). I told our guys I thought they outworked us, they were more active with hands, quicker coming over on weak sides and the second half I thought we were better at all those things.”


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