Disgusting. The trade, the game, the refs, the dunks. In a very disappointing loss, the Raptors showed fight for three quarters before horrible calls, bad choices by Sam Mitchell and the Raptors, and a guy wearing the number “24″ took the game away.
First off, congratulations on the Lakers landing Gasol for basically nothing. In what can be considered an absolutely horribly one-sided trade, the Memphis Grizzlies basically got cap space for their best big man. The Lakers, on the other hand, rid themselves of a perennial turnover machine named Kwame Brown. In fact, not having Brown in the lineup probably helped the Lakers further in the win, as it allowed the Lakers to keep their turnovers to just five for the night.
On this night, though, it was the Kobe and Bargnani show. Just as Kobe got his calls for ticky-tack fouls, he also made a variety of incredible shots. To make matters worse, the Raptors kept playing him to shoot rather than drive, giving him the opportunity for several beautiful dunks throughout the game. For a while, it looked like a flashback to two years ago as the Raptors had nothing in the interior that could stop Kobe. Then the rest of the Lakers started making all their shots, and as a result, the Lakers put some distance against the Raptors.
Nevertheless, it’s just inexcusable that the Raptors, and especially Chris Bosh, did not receive the same kind of calls that Kobe was getting. Within our own building, the Raptors tried to get the ball inside multiple times and were hammered every single time without a whistle. On one particular occasion, Jose drove to the hoop and was ridden down by a Laker all the way, only to miss the shot and have no call go against him. With another play, Jose was on the break, pulled up and got smacked in the back of the head as he laid in the basket. Once again, no foul was called. Surprisingly, the Raptors still managed get almost double the amount of shots LA was taking from the line. Largely, this was due to the continued improved play of Andrea as he once again managed multiple trips to the free throw line. Shooting a high percentage, and playing somewhat adequate defense, Andrea was the consistent bright spot of the night until Sam pulled in in the fourth.
The fourth was when things really came off, and the blame has to go with Sam on this one. By going small against an already quicker, more athletic, and now bigger Lakers squad, the Raptors saw the Lakers run away with the game. There’s just really no excuse for having Calderon, Dixon, Moon, Bosh, and Kapono on the floor at the same time. First of all, none of these players were shooting well except for Kapono and Bargnani, and more importantly, this group would be very weak defensively against a guy like Bryant and taller guys like Odom. The sad thing was, fans could see that Bosh was gassed before the end of the third, and yet, Nesterovic (playing an excellent first half) was nowhere to be seen to relieve Bosh.
Overall, this outing was a very disappointing loss. The Raptors had every chance to take the lead at some point, but instead, allowed the Lakers to come back at every turn. It’s this ability to constantly keep an opponent down in a close game that the Raptors had last year, but seem to lack this year. People might want to talk about margin of victory and other stats such as those, but in the end, there’s a feeling from those teams that exude the confidence that they can win each and every single game. That’s just not present in this year’s squad, and will continue to be the downfall for our boys in white and red.
Next Game: Toronto @ Miami