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No sympathy for Turkoglu in Toronto

Mar 26, 2010, 2:50 PM EDT

It’s really not hard to follow the line of thinking: Hedo Turkoglu was the big off-season acquisition for Toronto; Toronto has had a horrible season that is crumbling right as the playoffs start; ergo, Turkoglu the problem

Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. It’s easy logic, and we like easy.

So when Turkoglu had to come out of the game Wednesday at half with what is being called a stomach virus, an entire city wasn’t sold. When he had to leave practice today partway through because of that same illness, there is no sympathy. Michael Grange of the Toronto Globe and Mail sums up the mood:

The problem with Turkoglu leaving the game at halftime with an upset stomach is that he’s got no track record of leaving it all on the floor, so to speak. From his training camp sabbatical to his sore hip to his sore knee to his sore ankle and now his sore tummy, if Turkoglu ain’t right, Turkoglu ain’t going….

But the real issue is this: Is there one person who – upon hearing Turkoglu wasn’t coming back after the half – didn’t roll their eyes?

The thing is Turkoglu’s shooting numbers this year are almost identical to last year — he’s even better from three. He’s just shooting a lot less. Nearly four shots a game. That’s about the system, that’s about teammates who need him to create less than in Orlando (after Jameer Nelson went down), it’s about a lot of things.

But the problem in Toronto is all about the defense. Turkoglu is not helping there, but again this is a system and team issue.

Defense in the NBA is as much about desire as it is skill (everybody is an athlete at this level, even Brad Miller). You have to want to defend. Was Boston any good at it before Garnett brought the passion? And north of the border Turkoglu is not bringing the passion, the desire. But he never was going to. He never has on that end.

Do paraphrase Dennis Green, Hedo Turkoglu is who we thought he was. Expecting something else was the mistake. That’s the real line of logic.

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