Toronto Raptors' Fourth-Quarter Illusions by Jay Triano

Stephen Brotherston@@ProBballNBAAnalyst INovember 23, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 16:  Head coach Jay Triano of the Toronto Raptors watches his team in action against the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 16, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Toronto Raptors enjoyed a hard-fought victory on Friday night, 120-113 over Miami.

Most importantly, they defeated yet another direct competitor for a playoff position in April and have now earned victories against Detroit, Chicago, and Miami at the ACC.

Also important was the breakout fourth-quarter scoring by Jarrett Jack, who has struggled all season to put the ball in the hole with any regularity.

The happiest person appeared to be Jay Triano, who took great pleasure in how his dual point guard line-up performed this time.  Hey, they didn’t lose!

But the multiple ball handlers on the floor argument that Triano tosses out there after almost every game, an argument that he has made so often that Jack Armstrong is now using it in his color commentary, still has the same flaw that it has had from the start.

The dual point guard line-up does not defend well.

Nothing has changed from what the True Hoop Article: What’s Working For The Raptors , identified before. 

When Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack are on the floor together, the Raptors are scoring over 128 points per 100 possessions but are giving up over 136 points per 100 possessions.

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After Triano went to his “ball handling” line-up on Friday, the previously quiet Mario Chalmers went off for 18 points in 13 minutes.  Yes, Chalmers is the Heat’s point guard!

At the 1:02 mark of the third quarter, Jay Triano inserted Jose Calderon to play with Jarrett Jack.  The score was 89-79 Raptors.

By 3:44 of the fourth quarter, the score was 100-99 Raptors.  Not exactly a positive outcome for the "ball-handling" line-up.

Playing with Calderon, Jack was maintaining his perfect fourth quarter shooting record of oh-fors by going 0-2. But when Triano briefly took Calderon off the floor for a minute at the 8:47 mark, Jack finally hit a jump shot.

The Raptors did fight back in this game and Jack was part of that fight.  But it didn’t happen easily.

At about the 2:29 mark, just before Turkoglu was fouled, Hedo passed the ball to a wide-open Jarrett Jack standing in the corner.

What the TV cameras couldn’t show was the absolute look of shock on Jack’s face that Hedo had passed him the ball and the fumbling return pass to Turkoglu that almost resulted in a turnover.

Turkoglu didn’t let this just go unnoticed.  He had a pointed talk with Jack that once again the TV cameras didn’t seem to pick up on.

Jack wasn’t the only one to have lost faith in his ability to hit a shot.  Miami was completely ignoring Jack in the corner.  No one was even moving to challenge him.

The next Raptors play saw Bargnani pass the ball to a wide-open Jack in the opposite corner.  No mistake, Jack was not surprised and nailed the three, opening a seven-point Raptors lead with just 1:48 left to go.

Less than a minute later, it was Turkoglu finding the wide-open Jack in the corner for another three.  The 12-point lead with 51.9 seconds left effectively sealing the victory.

This turn of events made Jay Triano a happy man.  Now he was able to point out how his duo point guard strategy won the Raptors a game.

And this was a great confidence boost for Jarrett Jack.  Jack needed it and the Raptors needed Jack to regain his offensive form.  All’s well that ends well?

But maybe Jay Triano should look at how a sophomore point guard who averages 10 points per game was able to go off for 30 points against the Raptors, in large part due to Triano’s dual point guard line-up.

The reality is Triano’s dual point guard line-up helped facilitate a Miami Heat run that almost cost the Raptors a game they were leading by 10 points when he switched to it.

The evidence still shows that when the Raptors use Calderon and Jack together, the Raptors are being consistently out scored by their opponents.

Since Triano is still suffering from the delusion that his team plays “better” with Jack and Calderon on the floor together, Raptors fans are left hoping that the illusion becomes reality before the delusion costs the Raptors too many more games.

Unfortunately on Sunday, Jay Triano was using his vaunted "ball-handling" line-up from the 9:32 mark of the fourth quarter until the end of the game and watched as the Raptors went from a 76-76 tie at the end of the third quarter to a 104-96 defeat at the hands of the Orlando Magic.

This time, however, it was hard to blame the head coach for his decision to play Calderon and Jack together at the end of the game.

Both Antoine Wright and Marco Belinelli sat out Sunday's game with minor injuries forcing Triano to choose between his rookie DeRozan, the near-rookie Weems (who is a sophomore player in name only), or the veteran Jack.  Maybe Jack wasn't ideal, but the choice was perfectly understandable.

However the result of playing Calderon and Jack together did remain consistent as the Raptors were outscored by eight in the fourth quarter.

Of course, there was another factor at play in this game that Triano should point to.

Raptors coaches, players, and fans have a right to be upset with the refereeing in this game.  Most painful perhaps was watching Andrea Bargnani foul out on a phantom "hit" that never connected with anything.  Why can't the Raptors get a call?

But there is no way to spin any magic out of a disappointing loss. So hopefully this doesn't feed Triano's "ball-handling" illusions.

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