Posted by: Jeremy | December 3, 2011

Getcha Christmas fruitcake ready

Who wouldn't wanna spend Christmas with the Celtics and Knicks?

A couple weeks ago, NBA stood for “Never Balling Again”, but now it might as well mean “Merry Christmas!”. The league added two more games to its December 25 slate yesterday, with Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Andris Biedrins all invited to join the festivities. Here’s a look at how the day shapes up:

7:00 – Wake up, pose for family picture next to the tree

7:30 – Bust open those presents

8:30 – Noon – Get ready to watch basketball

Noon: Celtics/Knicks

2:30 – Heat/Mavericks

5:00 – Bulls/Lakers

6:30 – Halftime Christmas dinner

8:00 – Magic/Thunder

10:30 – Clippers/Warriors, though I might pass. No offense to the Blakers, but that’s too much basketball for one day.

Posted by: Jeremy | November 30, 2011

You’re the man, Stevie Johnson

Johnson's tribute to Burress

Stevie Johnson should be celebrated. If it wasn’t for him, nobody would’ve even remembered Plaxico Burress shot himself in the groin three years ago. The NFL came down on the Bills’ receiver today, slapping him with a $10,000 fine for his second-quarter touchdown dance in Sunday’s 28-24 loss to the Jets.

Here’s the thing with Johnson: He’s a nobody. I’d say he lost a fair deal of pride along with the fine, but he doesn’t have much left after his memorable drop in overtime and ensuing Twitter outburst last season in a loss to Pittsburgh. Johnson’s celebration, which also mocked Jets receiver Santonio Holmes, cost the Bills a 15-yard penalty and led to a Burress touchdown that pulled New York even heading to halftime. And with Buffalo trailing late in the fourth, Johnson dropped a wide open pass over the middle and had another (albeit it a more difficult one) deflect off his hands in the end zone. No word on whether he’ll be fined for the drops, which may have been an homage to former Jet Braylon Edwards.

Buffalo’s loss, by the way, was its fourth straight after starting the season 5-2. So yeah, not exactly the best timing for a touchdown celebration to begin with, even if that fourth loss wasn’t quite in the bag yet. But this is coming from a teammate of David Nelson, who felt it was a good idea to run across the field to give a ball to his Cowboy cheerleader girlfriend when his score cut Dallas’ lead to 21-7 a few weeks ago. Buffalo ended up dropping that one 44-7.

Maybe Stevie Johnson is content being the top option on a team that hasn’t had much in the way of wide receivers the past 20 years. Touchdown dances are all fun in games in Buffalo, since winning isn’t much of a reality.

Posted by: Jeremy | November 30, 2011

Annnnd we’re back!

Raptors basketball isn't the only thing to get excited about these days

Maybe it’s my unbridled enthusiasm over the pending NBA season, or perhaps the fact Toronto has a pro team that looks mildly relevant this winter. Maybe its my competitive nature that just wants to keep up with the rival VoiceofValeri.com. Either way, I’m back baby! My latest hiatus is over, and you can expect some regular updates coming straight from your second-favourite blog on the Toronto sports scene (the first, of course, being the aforementioned Valeri’s — check it out).

Anyway, thanks for those that’ll be checking back in — looking forward to your comments and some good sports talk.

Posted by: Jeremy | March 16, 2011

Memory lane with Chris Farley and Christian Laettner

March Madness tips tomorrow and you know Chris Farley will be watching, wherever he is.

Posted by: Jeremy | March 14, 2011

Morrow, Bautista lead Jays past Rays

If yesterday was any indication, Brandon Morrow shouldn't have any trouble with the Rays again this season

The Jays are starting to grab some wins, so maybe it’s time to claim Spring Training does mean something after all. Brandon Morrow struck out six Rays over four innings and Jose Bautista hit his second homer in three days yesterday, as Toronto hammered Tampa Bay 9-3 to pull even at 8-8 in exhibition play.

The games do start meaning a little more when starters begin getting stretched out, with Morrow going a couple more innings than he and his counterparts did the first few times they got the ball this spring. He gave up three hits and two runs (one earned), then gave way to Marc Rzepczynski, who gave up a run on three hits in three innings. Carlos Villanueva and Casey Janssen closed it out with a shutout inning each.

Bautista added a single to his homer to continue his torrid spring, bumping his average to .458 in the process. Travis Snider went 2-for-4, running his average to .450, and Yunel Escobar had a double and two RBIs in three at-bats and sits at .423. Eric Thames hit a two-run homer in the seventh, his second of the spring.

The Jays are off today, but are back in action Tuesday when Jesse Litsch takes the hill against the Phillies. Frank Francisco is slated to get his first action of the month in the game as well.

Posted by: Jeremy | March 12, 2011

Barbosa carries Raps past Pacers

Barbosa had his best game as a Raptor, scoring 29 in the win

Three straight losses, including a mind boggler at home to Utah on Wednesday, meant the Pacers couldn’t have arrived in Toronto any sooner. The Raptors got back on the winning track last night, beating Indiana for the eighth time in their last nine meetings at Air Canada Centre, 108-98 behind a season-high 29 points from Leandro Barbosa.

Barbosa did much of his damage in the first half, scoring 14 points in his first four minutes off the bench to help Toronto build a double-digit lead it never surrendered. Ed Davis had a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in place of an injured Amir Johnson, Jose Calderon had 13 and eight assists and DeMar DeRozan had 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Reggie Evans again got plenty burn in his second game back from a broken foot, playing 26 minutes and grabbing 16 boards. He also set a team record by airballing two free throws within a stretch of about two minutes, though he did manage to connect once on four attempts for his only point of the contest.

The Raptors shot 53.1% from the field against Indiana’s horrific defense, and that was even with a 1-of-13 effort from Andrea Bargnani, who was returning from a one-game absence with the flu. Aside from Bargnani, the team shot 61.8% (42-of-68).

Indiana has now lost six straight but still somehow sits tied with Charlotte for eighth in the East at 27-38. That’s Eastern Conference basketball for you, folks, and you’ll appreciate it even more when Toronto somehow gets to the playoffs with 35 wins at some point in the next five years. The Raptors will get another shot at playing the spoiler for an undeserving playoff contender, as those very Bobcats are in town for a 1:00 tip at the ACC tomorrow.

Posted by: Jeremy | March 10, 2011

Heat win, all is well in the world

Why wasn't Bosh invited to the hug party? Oh yeah, he's locked in the car.

Question: When the Miami Heat win a game, do they get a pizza party with bottomless soda afterward? If so, the Pepsi is flowing like wine right now in the AmericanAirlines Arena home locker room. LeBron and his little playmates shook the monkey tonight, holding off Kobe Bryant and the Lakers to snap a five-game skid with a 94-88 win.

Dwyane Wade scored eight of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and stripped Bryant to feed James for a breakaway dunk to make it 90-88 with 1:27 remaining, effectively putting an end to Crygate, at least for one night. Hey, you never know with kids, especially with the way the Chris Bosh’s emotions have been running wild the past couple weeks. Bosh, by the way, led the Heat with 24 points and nine rebounds in the wake of his complaints about his usage, and LeBron chipped in 17 points, eight boards and nine assists.

For all the talk of Miami’s crunch time struggles, it was actually Bryant’s choking act in the final few minutes that handed the Heat this one. A couple possessions after the turnover leading to James’ dunk, Kobe coughed another one up under the basket and heaved the game away with a 30-foot attempt with Miami up 92-88 with 20 clicks left. In all, Bryant scored 24 points, but did it on 8-of-21 shooting and added just two rebounds and two assists in 40 minutes.

Either way, order is restored in Heatland. Erik Spoelstra’s job is safe, Bosh made it through the night without taking a ball off the face and Wade can rejoice in the rest of the world hating its life because Miami is winning again. Until it has to face Boston again, at least.

Posted by: Jeremy | March 10, 2011

Call it a collapse

Jefferson scored 34 points, including a tip at the buzzer to win

Three months without Reggie Evans made me forget how bad things can get when he’s forced to play 30+ minutes. Evans made his return from a broken foot last night against Utah, and with Andrea Bargnani unable to handle the cold Toronto weather and Amir Johnson sidelined with an injury eight minutes after tipoff, was forced to play crucial minutes down the stretch in the Raptors’ last-second 96-94 loss to the Utah last night. The score kinda masks how bad this one actually was — Toronto led 86-72 with eight minutes left and lost at the buzzer on a swatted in put-back by Al Jefferson off a Devin Harris miss.

With Bargnani out with the flu and Johnson down with a rolled ankle in the first quarter, Evans was stuck with 33 minutes, which undoubtedly was more than Jay Triano had in mind for his winded legs after 48 games on the sidelines. I gotta say, too, that I don’t see what the rest of Toronto sees in Evans. Has there been a bigger offensive liability in the history of the game? Also, for a big, he doesn’t challenge shots, as was evident when Jefferson nailed shot after shot in the post on him en route to scoring 34 points, including a 10-foot fadeaway to give Utah a 94-91 lead in the final minute. Evans also fouled on a rebound to give the Jazz another shot to win after Earl Watson missed a three in with 18 seconds left. In all, the big fella turned in two points and missed all four of his free throws on the night.

The Raptors best effort came from Sonny Weems, who turned in 16 and five boards in 23 minutes off the bench. Jose Calderon had 14 points and six assists on 7-of-12 shooting, but missed three shots in the last three minutes, including a wide-open three prior to Jefferson’s fadeway. DeMar DeRozan led with 17 but was just 4-of-16 and Ed Davis managed just 12 points and three rebounds while starting in place of Bargnani.

I took this one in live and found myself more humoured than upset with the end result. What are we playing for these days, anyway? Nothing. And yet I was still there, which is something I’ll have to address internally. Nevertheless, the season drags on, with Indiana in town for an inspiring matchup on Friday.

Posted by: Jeremy | March 7, 2011

A week in the life of Chris Bosh

Life as a dinosaur in Miami isn’t all that easy. Here’s a closer look at Chris Bosh’s rough week:

I know this one didn’t happen in the past seven days, but it’s fun to watch for old times’ sake:

Posted by: Jeremy | March 7, 2011

Miami loses again, Heat burst out in tears

LeBron James is losing here and losing there

“The Miami Heat are exactly what everyone wanted — losing games. The world is a better place now since the Heat is losing.” — Dwyane Wade, following Miami’s latest collapse.

Yes, Dwyane! LeBron and his sad-sap buddy were hung with another last-second loss yesterday afternoon, 87-86 to the Bulls — the third time in three meetings the Heat has lost to Chicago, and Miami’s fourth straight loss overall. Down one on the final possession, James’ layup in traffic drew backboard and Wade’s 18-foot corner jumper off the rebound rimmed out, making the Heat now 1-of-18 from the field in the final seconds of ties or one-point games this season, including 1-of-12 from the big two alone. Miami is also now 5-13 in games decided by five points or less.

This one took an even more hilarious turn following the game, when coach Erik Spoelstra announced in his press conference that “there are a couple of guys crying in the locker room right now”. Well, I guess that’s not all that unexpected, given Chris Bosh broke down last Thursday following a 24-point blown lead in a loss to Orlando, and he also burst out in tears after getting locked in a hot car while clubbing with James and Wade earlier in the week. Sad, sad stuff all-around in Miami.

Of course, credit yesterday should also be given where it’s due — Chicago came up big again, getting 27 points from Derrick Rose to close its five-game road swing with a 4-1 record, including an 89-81 win in Orlando on Friday to sweep through Florida. At 43-18, the Bulls are now second in the East to Boston and a game ahead of the Heat with two less in the loss column.

Posted by: Jeremy | March 3, 2011

Raptors, Nets set for a pair in London

Soak it up, London

Leo Rautins is ready. Are you? The Raptors touched down in London, England yesterday and are set for a two-game series with the New Jersey Nets at O2 Arena, with the opener going tomorrow at 3PM ET. Not a bad deal if you’re like me and spending a Friday afternoon sitting around the house with nothing to do.

It’s actually a historic event, since it’s the first time the NBA has ventured outside of North America for a regular season game. As I mentioned a couple nights ago, hopefully the British enthusiasts aren’t too informed and are able to be tricked into thinking the Raptors and Nets are actually good teams. But hey, doesn’t mean they can’t put on a good show.

It’ll be Toronto’s first look at New Jersey since it picked up Deron Williams from the Jazz last week. The Nets are winless in three games since the deal and losers of six straight overall, though they’ve still won five more games than they did all of last season despite being just 17-43.

Posted by: Jeremy | March 2, 2011

MLB 2k11, featuring digital Brian Wilson

MLB2k11 comes out next week, and I may just get it for digital Brian Wilson alone. I usually tire of acts like this, but something about Wilson’s just leaves me wanting even more. Another one, for good measure:

Posted by: Jeremy | March 1, 2011

Calderon bests Paul, leads Raps past Hornets

Calderon turned the clock back to 2007 with a 22 point, 16 assist effort against the Hornets

If I told you before tonight’s Raptors-Hornets game that one of Chris Paul and Jose Calderon was gonna score 22 points, grab seven boards, hand out 16 assists and hold the other to seven, four and five in a winning cause, which would you have chosen? If you’d have picked Calderon, you’d have have been both out of your mind and surprisingly correct. The little Spanish engine churned its way to arguably the best all-around performance of its career, lifting Toronto to a 96-90 win to wrap the homestand and send the Raps to England on a high note.

Calderon made 7-of-10 shots and led a first half attack that handed Toronto a 57-42 lead at the break, scoring 10 points and handing out nine assists over the span. He opened with a first quarter four-point play off a Paul foul, made another three before the half and used both his outside shot and open court play to get the best of New Orleans’ all-star in the second half. After a stretch of Jerryd Bayless allowed the Hornets to pull within three points with about eight minutes to go, Jay Triano called back on Calderon, who took the reigns down the stretch to win.

DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems both had big first halfs but cooled late, finishing with 17 and 14 points, respectively. Toronto also got nice efforts from the Johnson twins, with Amir shaking a poor offensive night (3-of-10, eight points) to grab 10 boards and block seven shots and James putting in 13 points, five rebounds and a pair of blocks. Andrea Bargnani picked up the slack after a quiet start, scoring six of his 14 in the fourth.

The Raptors now head to Europe, where they’ll face the Nets for a pair of road games on Friday and Saturday at O2 Arena in London, England. Not sure how much they know about the NBA out there, but do you think the league can get away with convincing the fans they’re actually seeing two good teams play? Let’s hope they don’t know too much.

Posted by: Jeremy | March 1, 2011

Bartolo Colon, already the darling of New York media

Well that's a surprise...

With Chien Ming Wang more than a year removed from the Bronx, the New York Post staff has been on the lookout for a source of toilet humour for some time. Now that Bartolo Colon is in on a minor league contract, the need to search further can cease. Between the above headline and jokes about Colon’s man boobs, it’s easy to overlook the greatest poop jokester in Yankee history, Chan Ho Park.

(via The Sports Hernia.)

Posted by: Jeremy | February 28, 2011

Jays drop another, fall to 0-3

Jo-Jo Reyes gave up two runs in two innings

Way to hit 257 homers last season and save none for Spring Training this year, guys. The Jays scored their first run of the spring this afternoon to little avail, with it coming in seventh inning of a game they lost 6-3 to the Phillies. After a pair of shutout losses against the Tigers over the weekend, Toronto now sits a meaningless 0-3 in exhibition play.

Jo-Jo Reyes and Joel Carreno — a guy I don’t figure to have a big impact and another I’ve never even heard of — gave up all six Philly runs in the first four innings. On the opposide side, Roy Halladay got the ball against his former team, tossing an unimpressive two shutout innings and giving up an unheard of two hits and a walk. Hey, if we can get hits off that guy, we’ll be fine when we face the Bartolo Colons and Josh Becketts that head up AL East rotations.

Toronto equalled its mark from the first two games combined with eight hits, getting a double from Mike McCoy, triple from Eric Thames and a sac fly from Anthony Gose to score runs. Placido Polanco had a pair of hits and drove home two runs for the Phillies.

The Jays are back in Lakeland tomorrow to face the Tigers for a third time, with Ricky Romero scheduled to start and go three innings. Zach Stewart is also set to go a pair, with David Purcey also slated to see some action in relief.

There can only be one

Cleveland hates LeBron James, but that doesn’t mean he’s still not king of the city. At least according to the smartest person in the world — himself. Seems poor little LBJ is hurt these days, because word got through to him that ex-teammate Daniel Gibson took the mic at some club Friday night and claimed to be the “new king of Cleveland”. Personally, I think Golden Voiced Ted Williams takes the crown, but I don’t really have a vote.

LeBron took the high road, getting on Twitter immediately after hearing Gibson’s claim, posting the following: “I wake up this morning to hear somebody got real fly at the mouth at their party lastnight [sic]. I see where we stand now even though I sense it!” The duo gangsta’d each other back and forth over the Internet much of Saturday afternoon, before James eventually tweeted that “The Air is Cleared” (caps and all).

This marks the second time in the past three months that emotions have run high between the former lovers, with Gibson having taken exception to some trash talk James bestowed upon the Cavaliers’ bench in Miami’s 219-36 drubbing in Cleveland back in early-December. The two patched it up shortly after via a phone call with a happy ending, with each accepting the other’s apology to close the deal.

In other LeBron news, his talents weren’t enough in South Beach tonight, as the Heat fell to the Knicks 91-86. James coughed the ball up in the final minute with Miami down a point, had a drive blocked by Amar’e Stoudemire and then missed a three that would’ve tied it with three seconds remaining.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 27, 2011

Raps put in six good minutes, get routed at home

Dallas' second unit torched Toronto, with Marion leading with 20

I realize basketball is a game of runs, but how do you manage to start off 22-3 and still manage to lose by 18 points? The Raptors did just that tonight at home against the Mavericks, blowing a huge first quarter lead en route to a 114-96 loss. Playing without Andrea Bargnani, Toronto pulled into halftime with a seven-point lead, but a 64-39 Dallas edge in the final two quarters was enough to put it under covers.

Dirk Nowitzki, who was down with an injury when the Raptors somehow managed to win in Dallas in December, scored 31 points and had 13 rebounds, and Shawn Marion had 20 and six rebounds in just 24 minutes off the bench in a glorious return to his home arena of about two months in 2009. Dallas didn’t even need much out of Peja Stojakovic, who tuned out some inexplicable boos from the clueless Toronto crowd to score just five points. Jason Terry, Ian Mahinmi and J.J. Barea also managed double-digits off the bench for the Mavs, whose second unit outscored the Raps’ 64-25.

Bargnani sat with the flu, further proving he’s no Michael Jordan. Ed Davis filled in and made his presence known in the opening quarter, but like the rest of the team, had little impact the rest of the way in finishing with eight points and five boards. Amir Johnson had 21 and seven rebounds, Jose Calderon had 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists and DeMar DeRozan had 19. Davis, Amir and Calderon combined to shoot 21-of-29 (72.4%), leaving the rest of the group to go an inspired 20-of-55 (36.4%).

The loss makes it a couple downers after Wednesday’s win over Chicago, and leaves the Raps at 1-3 since the break and 16-44 overall. The Hornets are in next, closing out the homestand on Tuesday before a trip to London for a pair with the Nets.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 27, 2011

You had to know it was coming…

Here it is, as expected: The Blake Griffin Kia Commercial. So yeah, what we watched last Saturday night wasn’t actually a dunk contest, but rather a commerical shoot. What were we expecting, though, as Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky notes, when we were watching an event called Sprite Slam Dunk at Staples Center?

Sorry again, DeMar.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 26, 2011

Live baseball has arrived

Brett Cecil started the Spring opener, giving up a run in two innings in a 4-0 loss to the Tigers

The good news is that Spring Training game action is underway. The bad news is the Jays lost their opener this afternoon to Detroit, 4-0. On the flip side, it means very little, aside from the fact Jose Bautista did absolutely nothing to live up to his contract in his first three plate appearances since signing a five-year, $64 million contract last week.

This one wasn’t on TV and I didn’t catch on the radio, so here’s what can be gathered from the boxscore at MLB.com: Brett Cecil got the start, giving up three hits and a run in two innings. Robert Ray gave up another in two innings of relief, and Jesse Carlson gave up two on a pair of walks and a double in the fifth. The Jays managed just five hits off seven Tigers pitchers, with Yunel Escobar and John McDonald each picking up a pair of singles and Juan Rivera doubling off some guy named Duane Below. Bautista went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts while starting at third, and an Adam Lind start at first yielded an 0-for-3 of its own. Rajai Davis, Edwin Encarnacion, Corey Patterson and J.P. Arencibia also started and went hitless for Toronto, though none of the four played a full nine innings.

So with one down, it gives about 29 more spring games for these guys to carve out spots on John Farrell’s Opening Day roster. Bautista, your work is cut out. Yours too, Lind. And come on, Carlson – I need you up there this year.  The Jays and Tigers shift from Dunedin to Lakeland for Round 2 tomorrow, with Marc Rzepczynski scheduled for a two-inning start.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 26, 2011

When heckling backfires because you look like an idiot

Mike Bibby's life can't be that bad, can it?

Dear fan,

You’re wearing a deep v-neck, Uggs with shorts and sunglasses indoors. The player you’re heckling, Mike Bibby, has made $100,176,673 in the past 12 years as a basketball player. Your wrist accessories look awesome and you and your friend (the one with the sweet yellow shoelaces) look like you’re having a great time at the game, but let’s take it easy on the heckling. These guys have feelings, you know…

Sincerely,

Everyone in the world.

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