NBA refs in a foul mood with Raptors' Jonas Valanciunas
By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency
|Raptors centre Jonas Valanciunas reacts after drawing a foul against the Bucks during pre-season action at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont., Oct. 22, 2012. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said NBA referees are going to have to get used to rookie centre Jonas Valanciunas.
Once that happens, Casey continued — and when Valanciunas gets used to playing in the NBA — he should run into foul trouble less often.
The Raptors and their fans can only hope so. It’s only five games into the season, but you can see the frustration building for the 20-year-old Lithuanian. Most of his fouls have been legit, but too many have been bad calls. But you know how the NBA works. If you’re a rookie and you’re not playing for one of the marquee clubs, you’re screwed. And Big V has been screwed a lot already this season.
On Wednesday night in the Raptors’ 109-104 loss in Dallas, a visibly-shaken Valanciunas waved his hand at the direction of the referees when walking towards the bench after picking up his fifth foul.
Something has to give before the big kid loses his confidence, or the Raptors coaching staff loses confidence in his ability to stay on the court. The kid plays hard, which is a good thing, but he obviously needs to find a balance between playing hard and committing fouls. But hopefully sooner rather than later, NBA refs stop calling a foul every time jumps or lifts his arms.
SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE WITH FIELDS
Injured Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry tweeted after Wednesday’s loss (dropping the Raptors to 1-4): “Proud of the effort by us tonight ... We going to keep working.”
Grammar aside, Lowry is bang on. The problem is, with such a tough schedule to start the season, the young Raptors are in danger of falling into a deep funk, which could be difficult to dig out of. Of course, Landry Fields shooting 21% from the field and averaging 2.4 points and 1.6 assists a game doesn’t help. Something’s got to give with this dude. Jose Calderon set him up for a routine layup on Wednesday and he missed, which has been the story pretty well every game. We keep hearing about how Fields does the little things right. OK. When is he going to start doing some of the big things right?
JAYS GOING TO POT?
The signing of pitcher Jeremy Jeffress and utility infielder Maicer Izturis constitutes big news in BlueJaysLand. According to some radio guys, Macier’s name is pronounced ‘miser’, which is appropriate given how the Jays’ ownership operates. Speaking of Jeffress, the native of South Boston, Va., has tested positive three times for marijuana as a minor leaguer. When asked for his reaction to the trade, Jeffress said, “What?”
WEENIE OF THE WEEK
Paulina Gretzky. All kidding aside, at what point does Wayne Gretzky sit his daughter down and explain how he’s spent his entire life building his legacy and good name?
AND WHILE I’M AT IT
— I’m not normally a fan of sports books (too many of them), but I’m looking forward to reading Jeremy Roenick’s book. I’m also looking forward to John Farrell’s new book, Jonathan Livingston Weasel.
— After losing to the Utah Jazz 95-86 on Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers fell to 1-12 (pre-season record included). During the game, Kobe Bryant was spotted staring down head coach Mike Brown, meaning Brown’s days are numbered.