Live from Staples- Lakers vs. Raptors
Things I'm thankful for: Good health, family, and that I don't have to type Garbajosa tonight.
BK with the first.
4-0 Raptors, 10:30. I know Rasho Nesterovic ain't exactly a beast down low, but when he's got Derek Fisher on him, that's a matchup that'll work in his favor. Sometimes switches will do that.
9:52- LO gets the Lakers on the board with a three. 4-3 Toronto. 6-4 LA, as Kobe hits a triple of his own. Decent start from outside, but it's never good to see them live out there.
8:20- Another three for Kobe. That's three straight for LA, accounting for all nine points, but that's not what the coaching staff wants to see, I wouldn't think. The Lakers tend to fall in love with jumpers. LO solves that problem by taking the ball strong to the hole for an and one. Misses the FT, but still, it's a nice change of pace. Took the rebound and went coast to coast, nobody on Toronto stepping up to stop ball. When LO gets in open space like that, he's almost unstoppable. 11-6 LA.
6:30- Kobe has the ball slapped away by Anthony Parker on the crossover, and he goes in for the easy dunk. 14-11 LAL. Kobe then tries to counter with a three, which he misses. As a team, they did get the memo that they're allowed to shoot things that aren't threes, right?
5:44- Timeout on the floor, 14-11 LA. Can't say I like what they're doing right now. No ball movement. Defensively, they're fine, but they're not really forcing the issue by settling for a lot of jumpers. Perhaps the intimidation factor is playing into it? Nesterovic is awfully tough down there. Like Mutombo.
5:33- First possession out of the TO, Kobe takes it to the hole. Foul. Then they go inside to Gasol, who kicks it out for a Fish three. Better. At least they're going inside first.
3:53- I hate to harp on this, but the Lakers have, after a Vlad airball, shot eight threes on 14 total attempts.
LO gets hosed on a travel call- he actually fooled the ref with the pump fake. Got the ball in the lane, pumped up, fooling everyone, then had an easy run to the basket, but they blew the whistle.
2:57- Kobe loses the ball, thinks there was contact, and ends up on the ground complaining. That's the second time Parker picked him when he went for the crossover at the top of the key. The Lakers still aren't getting into their offense at all, save for a couple possessions. Very little activity for Pau in the post. Thus far, Kobe really isn't playing well at all. He's hit a couple shots, but is also spending too much time trying to go one on one. He's neither carrying them, nor distributing. Worst of both worlds.
END OF THE FIRST:
Lakers down 25-22, and it really has nothing to do with anything the Raptors are doing. Farmar commits a terrible foul at the end of the quarter, getting his hand in and grabbing Ford as he started his shot. Jordan let go, but not before altering the play enough to the get the whistle. Offensively, the Lakers are spending way too much time on the perimeter, not moving themselves or the ball very much. Not enough touches for Gasol down low, no effort to get LO posted up. Everything from the outside in.
Defensively, when they're not giving Toronto free points off TOs, the Lakers are doing okay, though it wouldn't hurt to shore up the glasswork. Hopefully it'll happen in Q2, with AK at the keys.
At the 10:18 mark, Luke Walton enters the game. So does, and this is not a typo, Coby Karl. Sasha and Kobe sit. I believe this would be Phil's way of saying to everyone, "Start moving the ball around and stop jacking up jumpers from outside the minute you touch the rock."
8:39 - During the timeout, the jumbotron showed a montage of Kareem, which culiminated in the crowd giving him a standing O. They liked it much more than T.J. Ford burying the long jumper after play commenced.
8:15 - Coby Karl skying for the block!
7:14 - A flgrant 1 is called on Kobe for coming down hard on Kris Humphries in the paint. To Kobe's credit, he handled the assessment well. Didn't like it, but kinda nodded along and kept it cool, opting instead to take it out on the rim with a standing dunk. I gotta believe the ball bouncing off the court was by design.
6:28 - Coby Karl takes Ford's miss downcourt and hits Ronny Turiaf in the air for an alley. The pass wasn't quite timed, so Turiaf found himself kinda hung up too far from the rack. But he stayed aware and dished the touch pass to Farmar behind the arc. Three ball falls. Lakers take a 37-35 lead and prompt Sam Mitchell to call a timeout.
5:15 - The Kobe to Coby connection. Kobe walks the ball just outside the paint, finds a defender, then dishes to George Karl's kid for the triple. I don't have the stats in front of me, but if tonight wasn't the earliest Coby ever checked into a game, it would be close. And thus far, he's made fantastic use of the minutes.
3:15 - LO checks in for Karl, who gets a huge round of applaude from the crowd. His exits almost immediately cues a three ball from Fish, assisted by Kobe.
2:24 - Walton misses a three ball, but LO is there to snag the loose ball, snag his own short miss, then finally tap it back. Nice resourcefulness on the part of ther Lakers, repeated on the next possession by Walton. Getting the ball behind the arc in the corner, Luke hesitates to take a shot, gets double teamed and finds himself cornered. But he keeps his head and notices Gasol cutting to the rim. Ball threaded to Gasol for the layup.
46.3 - Nice recovery by Kobe, who lost the handle working his way into the paint. Through a series of short dribbles, he eventually regains control and gets layup to fall. His next possession involves some paint entry as the clock winds down, but the ball's eventually kicked out to Fish situated in downtown. Good for Fish's 10th of the half. He also bumps the Lakers up 58-52 to close down the opening 24 minutes. The ball movement and shot selection improved considerably from the first quarter. Less iso'ed work and quick/long jumpers. The rock actually traveled inside every now and then. That's a formula for getting 'er done. Back at the third with BK.
First possession for Toronto sees Moon beat Rad off the dribble. IT's happened a couple times, actually. Moon isn't a great offensive player, but he's not afraid, either.
Two Lakers possessions end with two buckets for LO in the paint, one on a drive, the other on a postup.
9:46- Vlad misses an easy layup, then Pau bricks the easy put back. That one hurt. It really hasn't been a great night for Radmanovic.
9:10- Not a great sequence for the Lakers. Calderon takes a three, and it hits off the rim with literally nobody raising an arm on the defensive glass. Calderon dumps it to Parker in the corner, and the Raptors have a triple.
6:55- Gasol gets the bucket down low, taking Nesterovic across the lane and then using the left hand. The Lakers have been much, much more effective getting the ball into the post. Then on the next trip, LO uses the little slip screen off Kobe along the baseline, takes the feed from 24, and drops the ball in. Easy points.
The Lakers are starting to get a lot more of those in the third. Timeout on the floor, 73-65 LAL.
Overall, since the second Q when PJ yanked the starters, the performance overall for the team has been much better. This quarter, they're looking like the group we're more accustomed to seeing. Good ball movement and player movement. This isn't a team that's going to beat them up physically, so there's really no issue to force the issue and work the ball inside. LO has been a real catalyst in the third. He's just killing Moon down low when given the chance.
5:20: "Good Three." LO penetrates then kicks back to Fish to Kobe who rises and shoots in rhythm. That's the sort of clean three they should look for.
Bargnani hits a pair of FTs- 76- 69 LAL.
4:44- Not sure what happened there. Seemed to be some sort of communication issue defensively with teh Lakers. Kobe had Parker in the corner, but was completely giving up the baseline. He must have thought help was there, but Parker had a straight shot to the hoop. Don't know if he should have been or not, but Kobe seemed genuinely surprised that nobody was there once Parker went by.
4:24- 78-71 LAL.
2:48- Vlad blocks a shot, very possibly the first constructive thing he's done tonight. PJ has stuck with him, though, which isn't always the case when he's not playing particularly well. Timeout on the floor, 80-73 LA.
1:00- Luke just outjumped Jamario Moon for a rebound. He's gonna get made fun of in the Raptors locker room later.
Smart foul by Farmar on Ford at the end of the quarter. They had one to give, and it slowed him up.
END OF THE THIRD-
LA 83, Toronto 77. Great Q3 for LO, who had 13, and for the Lakers O generally. Much better ball movement, much better player movement. On the other hand, Toronto had a few too many easy looks on back door and PandRs, but the Lakers are holding the Raptors to 42% from the floor, so the D has been fairly good. Hopefully it stays that way, if it doesn't, blame AK.
10:55 - Two straight defensive stands from Walton lead directly to a pair of Laker buckets. The first admittedly involved Luke getting away with a foul on Kris Humphries, but he causes the Gopher to miss a layup. The rebound goes to Luke and eventually Farmar for a clean 17-footer. The next play sees Walton do a solid job bodying Joey Graham down low, giving him enough trouble that Kobe can go in for the strip. The ball goes again to Farmar, this time from 20 feet out. Same result. Toronto calls timeout.
9:55 - A great bounce pass from Sasha (weaving in and out of the paint) sets up Ronny for the two handed dunk. He can't convert after absorbing the contact from Graham and gets one of two at the line.
9:01 - As Kobe dribbles at the top of the arc, Sasha keeps moving from one side of downtown to the other, eventually losing a trailing Kapano. Kobe spots his Slovenian buddy on the run and sets him up for a sweet reverse layup. Of course, one good need deserves another, so less than a minute later, Farmar rewards Kobe with an alley oop feed.
5:42 - Kobe takes Anthony Parker at the top of the elbow, left side. Backs him down, then faces, one twist, jumper around the stripe. Parker had absolutely no chance. The next possession sees Kobe good from a little further back on the opposite side.
3:29 -Good job by Fish running Ford into traffic and a spot in the paint where a layup goes all airball.
2:09 - Too much time in the post without a decision leads to Gasol telegraphing a pass to LO. Interception Toronto. Ford comes streaking towards the rack and goes up for the dunk. He's met by Kobe, who makes a spectacular stop at the top of the cylinder. But the rebound goes to Nesterovic, who converts the layup.
41.0 - Big money three ball from Fish to create nine points of separation and keep this from being a two possession game against a team that specializes in bombing. Kobe does a great job spotting him from the interior.
Final score 117-108, Lakers on top. After a headless chicken-like first quarter featuring way too many bombs and not enough ball movement, the next three saw the Lakers put together a pretty good ball game, especially in the second half. Kobe led all scorers with 34 and got double digit help from all starters, save Vlad's goose egg. The bench also provided some nice support after a bit of a lull. Nice bounceback after Sunday's disappointment. Thanks for dropping by. More to come later.