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Poor defense a negative in Lakers' 106-105 loss to Toronto Raptors

Kobe Bryant #6

The numbers don't seem to add up.

The Lakers scored 56 points in the paint and 19 second-chance points, led by Pau Gasol's 22 points and Andrew Bynum's 21 points. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant provided arguably his most well-rounded game, recording a near triple-double with 27 points, a career-high 16 rebounds and nine assists. And Lakers backup guard Jordan Farmar provided energy off the bench with 17 points, including a three-of-four clip from three-point range. 

Those kind of statistics, including a 51-39 rebounding advantage, would seem to have been all it took for a victory: The Lakers had an inside game in Bynum and Gasol, a leader in Bryant and bench support in Farmar. 

When you look at the Lakers' performance on defense, however, the reasons for Sunday's 106-105 loss to the Toronto Raptors become clear. And you can't just chalk it up to the teams' free-throw discrepancy, with Toronto finishing 21 of 26 from the line and the Lakers going nine of nine from the stripe. That's a statistic that will likely fuel grumbling about the officiating -- in particular the call against Pau Gasol, who was whistled for fouling  Hedo Turkoglu in the final seconds. That call ultimately set up Turkoglu's game-clinching free throws. But the Lakers had lapses on defense that should prompt concerns even if they had walked away Sunday with a win.

For all the balance the Lakers had, it paled in comparison to what Toronto provided. While four Lakers players scored in double digits, the Raptors had six players reach that feat. That included Andrea Bargnani's 22 points (14 in the second half), a double double from Chris Bosh (18 points and 13 rebounds) Jarrett Jack's 18 points, Marco Belinelli's 15 points and DeMar DeRozan's 10 points. 

This shouldn't have been a surprise since Toronto entered Sunday's contest averaging 103.6 points per game, fifth best in the NBA. Yet, Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons told KCAL9's John Ireland at halftime that the Lakers only held a 56-54 lead because of the team's tendency to "feel the other team out" on defense when it's facing an opponent for the first time. 

It appeared numerous times that the Lakers could run away with a large lead. They had a 14-5 advantage with 5:07 remaining in the first quarter, but Toronto fought back through the rest of the period, trailing only 24-21. The Lakers built a 48-40 lead with 3:31 remaining in the first half, but the Raptors cut the lead by halftime to 56-54. 

The Lakers stormed out of the second half with a 7-0 run for a 63-54 cushion, prompting Toronto to call timeout with 9:18 left in the third quarter. By the end of the period, the Lakers only led 84-82. 

Although the fourth quarter presented two ties and five lead changes, the Lakers appeared on their way to victory after Kobe Bryant's 13-foot jumper gave them a 105-101 lead with 1:46 remaining. But the Raptors scored five unanswered points the rest of the way.  

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant drives past Raptors forward DeMar DoRozan in the first half Sunday. Credit: Warren Toda / EPA

 
Comments () | Archives (29)

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I haven't been posting much lately but have been reading all the threads. It's always interesting, all the different takes on the games. In my own opinion, all three road games so far have been hard fought - the other teams have been playing at a high level, as have we. Of course, I'd rather be 3-0 at this point but at least these have not been embarassments. If we could run the table for the rest of the trip we'd still come away with 6 and 2 and I'll be hoping for that.

Lakers played better than Toronto as points in the paint and rebounding advantage support. Referees made question calls including bailing out Hedo at the end.

Liked how PJ finished game with Farmar and Brown.

Raptors game should be chalked up as strange and move on.

What???

The Lakers are saying they need to focus on defense?

I am shocked! Shocked I say!

LakerTom,

in an earlier thread you wrote: Both are very intelligent, articulate, well-read individuals with consummate confidence in their basketball abilities. Both are graceful athletes with great footwork under the rim and soft hands and soft shot.

my response:

1st. I hope you're well.

2nd. Put that crack pipe down!

A. Other than your man-love for the pup, please detail *anything* that
smacks of intelligence from Bynum. Other than signing his contract
with the Lakers.

B. Confidence in his basketball abilities? WTH are you smoking? How many
stupid fouls has this youngster picked up over the last 3 years? How
many rushed shots has he missed this year?

C. Graceful athlete? Are we talking about the same person? He's a knock-
kneed giant, who lumbers like a dinosaur on the discovery channel. If he
was graceful, perhaps he wouldn't have stepped on Gasol's foot. Perhaps,
he would have jumped up when Kobe fell into him.

D. Well read? Name 5 books he's read that weren't given him by PJ.

I will give you that he has soft hands and a soft shot. I will give you that he
had a good game against Toronto. I will not give you: He's a better player
than Bosh. I will not give you: He has more upside than Bosh.

you also wrote this: Who knows why Drew doesn’t use the same quick spin move he uses for lobs to get defensive position.

my resposne: umm ... He doesn't like to play defense? He was touring Italy
instead of working with Kareem? Assassin's Creed? He's heartless? Playboy
Bunnies prefer offense? Descartes said: I score therefore I am? They didn't
talk about defense in his college calculus class? Don't you need a helmet and
shoulder pads to play defense? Offense is so easy, even a caveman can do it?

You can blame the FT discrepancy on Odom and Farmar who fouled far too often. Odom was owned by anybody on the Raptors who was lucky enough to be opposite. Fisher should have been called for bumping the Raptors guards on every drive, but the old man got away with it.

Gasol & Bynum offense was offset by Bosh & Bargnani - whom if you followed the Raptors score 40+ every game.

Kobe's offense was offset by 2 young guys he was supposed to be guarding but just couldn't get around to it. Kobe looked great helping out the Lakers bigs but he didn't even challenge DeRozan or Belinelli when they took shots.

In the end, the Lakers lost because Kobe missed his last 3 shots - all long range jumpers. In the crunch, the team didn't even look to go inside where they'd had success all game.

Great season for the Lakers. They had nine million home games...beat mostly chumps. Got bailed out by Kobe in a few games they should have lost. They have lost most of the big matchups this year. (Denver, Cleveland,Portland , San Antonio). For all the talent they have...this has got to be one of the most under achieving teams in the league !!!

1.A couple of points, people need to stop blaming Gasol...Lakers were nothing before they got the Christmas present from Memphis and Stern.

2. The Fisher experiment is over !!! Anybody that doesn't get that, knows nothing abpout NBA basketball !!

3. Bynum is not everything you want him to be...but give him more time.
He handles feeds from Kobe better than probably any player in the league could.

4. Maybe it is time for Phil to quit being so stubborn and actually start earning his 12 million a year. He is having a terrible coaching year.

First let me say that one game doesn't prove anything either way. Having said that, I didn't see anything in yesterday's game that would make me want to trade Bosh for Drew.

BTW, if Bosh was so great, wouldn't his team be a winning team? They are barely above .500 and the allow more points than they score.

I'm not sold.

However, I have said before, with Bosh or Bynum, the Lakers are still going to win the Championship. With Bosh or Bynum, Toronto is still going to improve. For both teams, the potential trade is win-win. At least on the court.

On the balance sheet is a different matter, however.

--FEARless

You know, hobbitimage, you're becoming a one-trick pony here and a complete bore with your incessant carping about Bynum and non-stop ambushing of Laker Tom. The biggest problem for you is, in the actual game yesterday, once we all got to see both of them play against one another, you'd have to be an idiot not to notice that Bynum more than held his own against Bosh. In fact, he stuff blocked him a couple of times, outscored him, and clearly showed who the true center is (and FYI, in case you still didn't catch the clue, it ain't Bosh). Bosh clearly is a natural PF, very much like Garnett, who prefers the high post area and mainly shoots mid-range jumpers. Very good player, NOT great. Thanks, but I'm sticking with Bynum.

And Laker Tom, your noting the similarities of Bynum to Jabbar, was very insightful. Jabbar never was a great defender, and obviously you weren't saying that Bynum is as good as Jabbar, or ever will be. But the similarities in characteristics and demeanor are right on.

It is time for Phil to step up. Don't play Ron until he is healthy, he is only taking up space. He's only had one good game from his Christmas debacle. Fisher needs to become a sub player. Let Farmar start, Fisher can't even guard Phil. Believe it or not, Sasha V could help against teams with quick small forwards. Now Phil, how about using your timeouts, instead of just reacting--afterwards. Also, about those late subs at the end of the game, Odom and Artest, after lounging on the bench for a while? Golden Boy Walton took the ball out twice at the end, missing Farmar cutting under the basket, and then a bounce pass, for no reason to Kobe, for the last play. I am glad it is only January!!!!

Next year, maybe Phil Jackson and Ben Howland can attend Coach K's clinic on using their timeouts. Phil is always late pulling the trigger and Ben eats them like candy. Phil is probably too stubborn to learn, but Ben at least admitted his mistake about not using a zone sooner. Now Ben, about those missed free throws, fire your shooting coach!!!

Kobe had three chances for a triple double and his cohorts missed all three chances or else we would be 2-1, not 1-2.
Refs blew that one yesterday for the Lakers, F.T's and the last call on Gasol. That was a non call.
I had to put up another tv and box in my tv room, had to watch football too.
Lakers played liked wussies and almost one.
Has been three good games that could have gone either way.
43 games later and Kupchak still made a bad decision to not keep Ariza, never liked the deal. Don't like Artest at all. Of course if he played better then I would like him.
Bynum is okay to keep. Fish needs to sit. Hate Morrison, crybaby.
We need more defense in the middle, knock them down like Rick Mahorn next time they come thru.
mike

Sorry, almost won, not one.

Okay, Now I think we are in less pressure, because no longer, we can break the best record of all time (Jordan era) and now we can concentrate on playing basketball. Let's don't kid ourselves, Kobe is not Jordan, but he is an excellent players who can win championship for us.


Stop whining. Just because they're The Lakers, it doesn't mean that they have a divine right to win everything all the time. A foul is a foul is a foul, no matter what it is or when it happens.

Regarding the call against Gasol at the end: Yes, in most games that would be a non-call. There was a lot of moderate contact on the play (mostly by other Lakers, not Gasol) but usually refs are going to let that go in the dying seconds, unless the foulee is a player of Kobe's or Lebron's caliber.

Maybe the refs had, in the back of their minds, the blown call when they called Belinelli for a charge on a fast break when it was clearly a block -- Belinelli's basket should have counted and a free throw should have been awarded. Or maybe they were thinking about the non-call when Fisher slapped Calderon in the face so hard that he had to leave the game for two stitches above the eye. (Second time this season Jose has taken stitches on a non-call.)

Maybe it was a makeup call, is what I'm saying.

--
Old Lars

Don't worry. LO says that they are so good they can win any time they want! I wonder if that means stopping LeBron when the game is on the line? He gave LeBron wide open looks. I wonder if that means scoring points at will when the game is on the line. LO was a non-factor last night. Seriously, his poor attitude is one of the reasons we are underachieving. Unfortunately, Bynum shares the same POV.

GOOoooooOOOO LAKERS !!!!!

For those who think there's some anti-Laker conspiracy, here are some numbers I put together:

Lakers: 23.7 ft attempts per game
Opponents: 22.3 ft attempts per game

Cavs: 25.9 ft attempts per game
Opponents: 25.2 ft attempts per game

Celtics: 25.3 ft attempts per game
Opponents: 24.7 ft attempts per game


In other words, Laker opponents get significant fewer fts than Cav or Celtic opponents, and the Lakers enjoy a ft advantage that is on average TWICE as big as what the Cavs or Celtics enjoy. And that's despite the fact that the Lakers are a finesse team that hasn't really been intimidating on the defensive end this season.

Now, what about in close games?

@OKC: Lakers by 3, get 9 more free throws
@Houston: Lakers by 1, get 4 more free throws
vs. Miami: Lakers by 1, get 14 fewer free throws
@Mil: Lakers by 1, get 16 more free throws
vs. OKC: Lakers by 3, get 15 more free throws
@Sac: Lakers by 9 in 2OT, get 5 more free throws
vs. Sac: Lakers by 1, get 13 more free throws


So in 6 out of 8 close games this year (including last night) the Lakers have shot more free throws than the opponent, and in 3 of those games they got a huge advantage. And that's despite the fact that 5 of the 8 games were on the road, where the home team is usually expected to have a slight advantage.

So yeah, I don't really see any credibility in whining about the refs. The Lakers have enjoyed far more breaks from the refs than they've suffered from, and if you're a conspiracy theorist, the conspiracy to help the Lakers makes a lot more sense (and has a lot more evidence) than any conspiracy to hurt them.

Stop whining. Just because they're The Lakers, it doesn't mean that they have a divine right to win everything all the time. A foul is a foul is a foul, no matter what it is or when it happens.

Posted by: Doug in Toronto | January 25, 2010 at 09:08 AM


Ah yes...it's our first eastern canadian troll. Welcome!

Just because people on this blog might contest the foul call at the end of the game does not mean that we think that the Lake Show has a divine right to win everything all the time.

Doug in Toronto states:

"A foul is a foul is a foul, no matter what it is or when it happens."

First point - "a foul is a foul is a foul" - since identity is transitive, and since you're not equivocating, I suppose you're correct; it's just that what you said is trivially true. It is materially equivalent to me saying "2 = 2 = 2". I also am going in with the presupposition that you are talking about the "is" of identity and not the "is" of predication (e.g. "Alex is tall" for comparison's sake).

Second point - the latter part of your sentence "no matter what it is or when it happens" doesn't seem to be getting at anything informative either. You might disagree on that point counterfactually if there was no foul called during Hedo's drive. This would go to show that referees are the only constituents of the game that have the ability to not only describe a foul, but to actually make it the case that a player's action is a foul. In other words, if a referee doesn't call the foul, it's not a foul - period.

For reference on how that is supposed to work, feel free to look up "Divine command theory" or John Searle's speech act theory. I think both have something to say about it. One other salient example that should drive the point home is to consider when Donald Trump says in a meeting "you're fired". Not only is he describing what happened to the poor sap, but he is simultaneously making it the case that the poor sap is fired. In this case (according to the Searlian analysis), the direction of fit for the speech act (Trump uttering "you're fired) goes both ways - from world to mind and from mind to world.

Other than giving me a chance to warm my brain up, you haven't said anything A) informative, B) earth-shattering, C) that hasn't been said before, and D) substantive.

Thanks for posting on the blog though!

Our defense definitely is not as sharpen as we should expect it.
Reasons are quite a few though, and all are passable of being solved before the real games (i.e. playoffs) start.

Lakers have always won through defensive skill.

When we give away that, especially in the secod half, we lose.

This used to happen also last year (causing me fair seizures...eww.)

All beng said, yesterday we were about to win with almost all of the starters injuried or nearby injuried.

Raptors aren't a subpar team at home. They have won all of their contest against western teams.
There something in their way to play that can cause commotion BUT in any moment of the game we looked ALWAYS better than them.

This actually makes me more angry at the loss, but it can happen.

I wouldn't have called that foul: but even then, we can't blame the referee. The last quarter has been a constant trial to reopen the game by OUR players.

I can't really accept that people are blaming Kobe for yesterday. What? He has a very silky play yesterday. He never overmade things and he was commanding everyone.

We can't always expect him to save us and I can even imagine he DID NOT want save us yesterday.

If he didn't, he was RIGHT.

A good shocking therapy is useful to shake the flamboyant selfassurance of this team.

Our players need to be way more confrontational.

And with "our players" I mean THIS roster.
We don't need anybody else to win.

We just need our guys to willing to win.
MORE, I mean.

More than anyone else they meet.

That is the only key (as long as our injuries heal, of course).

PS: CornerJ, I forgot to answer you (and yesterday in chat it wasn't possible): Sure, I have been at the Harry's Bar (though when in Venice I always stay at Danieli's, and never at the Cipriani where theBar is, of course it's a hot spot one must check while in there...) while in Venice, but being teetotal, never tried Bellini ;) I am already a crazy head without alcholic need.
My friends say though that it's good, bit NOT spectacular. In MIlan you can find way better Bellinis.

In their opinionated guess ;)

Caliphilosopher re your post:

Nuff said....no other words required..

@Zaira

Only on a Lakers blog would someone post that Kobe didn't want the Lakers to win and actually praise him for it. Not like this is the first time Kobe fans (as opposed to Laker fans) have said such a thing on this blog.

I can't think of any other player, in any other sport, who is sucked up to by his fans so much that even when he loses games they praise him for doing it on purpose.

LA Guy... I have played team sports and I can assure you a team leader is more than entitled to' do what you accuse Kobe for. It shakes the team the right way. A team sport requires everyone's MAXIMUM effort and when that doesn't happen, the leader has to' find a way to' send a message.
The message is "you can't expect me to' always solve it all cos alone I can facilitate some more wins, but not enough for another ring."

that's the concept.

And getting it makes me A Laker fan prior than being - assured - a Kobe's devotee.

If you don't get the sense of my words, I can't do anything further for you.

But I totally meant what I said.

In Kobe's place. if he was meant to' do that, IF, cos J can't read hus mind... Well I would have done it too.

For the same of the Lakers.

Not definitely to' ruin them.

Nobody wants to' win more than Kobe does.
Nobody.

Awful iPhone...of course I meant SaKe of the Lakers above...
Typing here is like killing grammar each single time.
It's Wordly Cluedo.
And I am always the Murder.

Zaira - "and I am always the Murder"... we might have a new name for you!" And you're always a welcome and refreshing voice on the blog as well.

Zaira, the fact that you have "played team sports" means nothing. I've played football at the college level, as well as coached basketball and football, and I have never met someone who encouraged a "team leader" to throw a game. No team leader should purposely throw a game, especially a consequential one. Would Magic have ever thrown a game? West? Kareem? MJ? Bird? Hakeem? Lebron? Of course not. Kobe is the only one who would ever have to resort to such childish behavior. (not that he did in this case - in this case, he just couldn't make the shots.)

What about the fact that the Raptors are actually a good team that gets NO RESPECT with teams south of the 49th. Look at the dominant performance of Bargnani yesterady, look at the way Bosh went into Kobe in the 3rd, look at the way Turkoglu got to the line. Even if you disagree with the call he made the play when it counted. If they were classified, the Raps would be Rodney Dangerfield.

Whoever said Bosh was not better than Bynum - Take your head out of the dark regions of your anatonomy and Look at the stat sheet for all NBA players and compare.

It was a huge win for the Raps, and a sign of things to come. They have had signs of giant killers this season (vs. Cleveland, Dallas, Orlando) and continued this trend. They are playing solid team ball, using all weapons in their arsenal. They are not relying on one single player to bail them out in the dying seconds. True, they have a long way to go to be a teir one team, but January has been a huge month for them. They gutted out this win and will be around in April and maybe into May.

A team that shows this kind of balanced scoring and by-in to the team system and style of play is exactly the kind of team that goes deep into the post season in this league. The one-player wonders fall off, quick. Toronto has been guilty of that in the past (see Vince Carter years).

The Lakers are an elete team in this league. But Toronto is a very good team in this league and they deserve to be better than Rodney Dangerfield.

The Lakers are an elete team in this league. But Toronto is a very good team in this league and they deserve to be better than Rodney Dangerfield.

Posted by: Raptorball | January 25, 2010 at 02:39 PM

I don't place them at the "no respect" level. They are a good team, especially at home recently. I was surprised to see DeRozan play so well that he's a starter.

Toronto has a good team. The question is (as it is for the Lakers) if they can actually be consistent, especially within their conference.

LA Guy _I don't think Zaira was suggesting that Kobe threw the game as you put it, but that he tried to get his teammates involved more rather than trying to "save them". His assists and rebounds would certainly seem to back that up.

dave m... you got it right.
;)


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