For only the 7th time in the history of the franchise, the Toronto Raptors were able to come away with a victory against the Lakers of Los Angeles.
The Raptors were able to win the game by doing things they have not done in their previous 4 (all losses). The Raptors played better defense, specifically on Kobe Bryant, who was not able to be the game changer that he usually is against Toronto.
They shared the ball well. Whether it was Calderon or Lowry at the point, the ball was moving to the right places. Even Alan Anderson chipped in with 8 assists off the bench. The team was unselfish and every single player was able to get on the score sheet as a result.
Finally, they closed out the game. The Raptors gave big leads away against Milwaukee, Chicago and then another on Friday in devastating fashion to the Sixers. Today they let their 19 point first half lead slip away, but fought back, regained control and then held off a very talented team in the 4th.
There is still much work to be done, but the Raptors can really hang their hat on a game like this. If this team has serious playoff ambitions, this is the type of effort they are gonna need game in and game out.
Especially going into Miami.
Zan for Three
Landry to the Rescue
The Toronto Raptors’ difficulty playing against Kobe Bryant is well documented. He has owned us throughout his career and that doesn’t even take into account his 81 point, history making performance in 2006. The Raptors have tried every which way to defend Bryant, but nothing has really worked. He always seems to pick us apart.
Today Landry Fields was able to do something we haven’t seen a Raptor defender do since the inception of the team; he contained Kobe Bryant.
For the most part.
Fields played him extra close and bothered every single one of his shots. Yes, Kobe still had 26, but on 10 of 32 shooting. Fields really rattled Kobe today.
In addition to his stellar defensive effort, Fields was also very active on the offensive end. He did a great job cutting to the basket, breaking down the Lakers D, and finished when the Raptors needed him to. He’s not shooting particularly well away from the basket, but today he didn’t need to.
When Bryan Colangelo brought Fields over in the off-season for big money, this is the effort he imagined on a regular basis. Now that Fields is healthy, he is starting to play his style of game. Today he looked like the Landry Fields of old, the player that opened eyes in his rookie year.
That’s the player we are going to need down the stretch, if the playoffs are to remain within reach.
Despite the fact he was a trending topic on Twitter this week, not enough credit is being given to Aaron Gray, Quincy Acy and the rest of the Raptors bench.
These guys are always ready to play, no matter how long they sit on the bench or how brief their appearances are. Aaron Gray was a DNP-CD in 4 of the 10 games the Raptors have played in 2013, but when asked to move into the starting spot, did not miss a beat. He’s played very important minutes for the Raptors as a starter and is helping to give the overworked Raptor bigs; Davis and Johnson, much-needed rest.
Quincy Acy has also been ready when thrust into duty and John Lucas has also handled his lack of playing time well, being ready to come in off the bench at the drop of a hat. Clearly the conditioning of this team is not an issue. The depth of this bench gives Dwane Casey a number of options and very valuable opportunities to rest some of his overworked starters.
Who are These Guys?
This has arguably been one of the worst starts to the season in recent memory for a team expected to do so much coming into the season. The Lakers have looked lost on both ends of the floor. They can’t seem to figure out what to do with the ball and they haven’t yet found a way to share the ball well.
Today, with the early ejection of Dwight Howard, the ball got stuck in Kobe Bryant’s hands. He had 32 shots. 32 SHOTS!!! An unreal number for a player with the talented teammates he has around him.
Dwight Howard looked lost early in the game and then his frustration got him kicked out. Nash looked a little discombobulated on offense and was a complete sieve on defense. D’Antoni is not running an offense that he is used to running and this team is becoming a mess.
It took Miami and Boston the better part of a year (in Miami’s case two) to figure out how to share the ball with a “Big Three”, but LA might be running out of time if they want to make a serious run at the top of their conference. Right now, they are in danger of falling out of the playoff conversation entirely.
When chatting with reporters after the game, D’Antoni didn’t hold back either: “We’ve got a lot of issues…Offensively the ball sticks and we don’t take very good shots. Defensively, ups and downs, we forget guys.”
It is clear that something is rotten in the state of California.
Zan of the Night
Landry Fields/Jose Calderon
Hard to decide between these two. Both played solid minutes and did the things they needed to in order to win. Fields played great D on Kobe and Jose contained Nash. Fields made some excellent cuts to break down the Lakers D and Jose was fearless on the offensive end scoring points and dropping dimes at will. Complete efforts from both of these players was the difference in the game today.
The Zan Tabak Herald