When the purple and gold come to town, fans are not used to seeing names like Kendall Marshall, Wesley Johnson, and Ryan Kelly in their starting lineup, but with an injury riddled and depleted lineup, those are who the Los Angeles Lakers had to put on the floor when they took on the Toronto Raptors this afternoon.
The last time these two teams met (December 8th in LA) was what is now considered to be the start of a huge turn around to the Toronto Raptors’ season. Since that game in LA, Raptors have gone on to win 14 of 20 games.
The Raptors seemingly have began to establish a bit of a home court advantage, looking to win their 7th straight home game. The 1st 3 quarters, had the Raptors continually looking to pull away and extend their lead, which at one point was as large as 19. With the resilient Lakers refusing to go away, crawling back and making it a game.
The Lakers continued their red hot shooting from beyond the arc, after shooting 60% Friday against the Celtics, they shot 54% (12/22) today–along with 93% from the free throw line–is what allowed them to stay in the game and eventually pull ahead late to win 112-106.
While Raptors settled for the outside jumper against a weak Lakers’ interior defense, shooting 30 3-pointers compared to getting to the line for just 11 free throws. In addition to getting caught up in the offensive shootout game of the Lakers, which coach Dwane Casey preached defense post-game: “We didn’t get defense in the game, that was the thing about the whole night, we played their game, up and down, it was pretty. And that allows those big runs, and that’s not who we are, we’ve gotta be a defense first team, not a 3-point shooting team.”
Raptors set a quick tempo early on, shooting 74% in a 36 point opening quarter, and reaching the half century mark with 7 minutes to go in the 2nd quarter. However, they then hit a wall and only scored 8 points in the final 7 minutes to close out the half. While the Lakers—led by Pau Gasol (22 pts, 9 rebounds) and Kendall Marshall (10pts, 4 rebs, 11 asts)—went on a run to minimize the deficit to 4 going into halftime.
Toronto quickly pushed their lead back up to double digits coming out of halftime, starting the 3rd on a 12-0 run, with the Lakers missing their first seven shots and unable to score their 1st points until 5 minutes into the quarter. Despite the early struggle, once again Lakers would fight back and actually take a 1 point lead heading into the 4th quarter.
Back and forth the two teams battled in the 4th, exchanging leads. Greivis Vasquez (11 pts, 5 rebs, 8 asts) provided a spark off the bench in the 4th, both on the offensive and defensive end, recognizing that they needed to penetrate the interior instead of settling for outside jumpers, but Raptors did not do this nearly enough.
“We did not get defense in the game, nor did we attack the rim, we didn’t get into our draw-and-kick game. The shots we made were kind of, 1-pass shots, wasn’t our typical rhythm 3’s.”, Casey said. “We shot 11 free throws, that tells us either we’re not getting the calls, or we’re not driving to the rim. ”
Specific focus was made on Demar Derozan, who missed some key jumpers on some questionable contested shots down the stretch, finished with 23 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists but shooting 10/24 FGs.
Coach Casey made note of this post-game: “Teams are loading up on him, teams are making it rough for him to get those shots, those same shots. They’re putting their best defender on him and he’s working really hard to get the buckets he’s getting. We gotta do a better job of helping screening him, getting him open, getting the ball to the weak side, then coming back because he’s expending a lot of energy to get his points. And again that’s the respect he’s getting from the rest of the league.”
For the Lakers, ‘Swaggy P’ Nick Young provided their huge spark off the bench scoring a game-high 29 points, knocking down a crucial 3 pointer with a minute to go, followed by two free throws to seal the game and the Lakers victory. Snapping the Toronto Raptors’ 6 game home win streak. Los Angeles Lakers have now won back to back games vs the Atlantic Division, after previously losing 6 straight games.
The Raptors will have to put this one in their rear view quickly, as they have a game in Charlotte on Monday afternoon against the Bobcats.