The Raptors came into Los Angeles like a boxer who had been pounded . They were beaten and bloodied and were backed against the ropes. They slipped out of 5th place in the East and 4 teams are chasing them to the wire. The Raptors had to face off against a pretty angry Lakers squad who had lost three in a row for the first time in the “Gasol era”. But, like a true fighter they fought until the very bitter end. And the end was bitter. Kobe Bryant hit a tough, tough shot in coverage to win it with 1.9 seconds left. The Raptors had battled back to tie it, but it just wasn’t meant to be. The Raptors battled for most of the game despite early foul trouble and a star that is still not 100%. They had a chance to win the game on the road, in Los Angeles. You can’t be upset about that. In the end the best player in the world took it to the Raptors in the 4th.
The part that hurts the most is that the Raptors have to do it all over again tomorrow against Tyreke Evans and the Sacramento Kings.
The Zan for Three
Best vs. The Best
Chris Bosh finally came around in the second half and started to look like an All-Star. He drove the lane, brought energy on the defensive end and was clutch down the stretch. He capped off a very strong fourth quarter with a huge 3-point shot to tie the game. The stage was set for an overtime thriller. That was until Kobe Bryant got the ball on the next possession. He saw Chris Bosh’s great shot and raised him a game winner. Kobe hit a shot under pressure from Antoine Wright and nailed it. It was a great shot, made by a great player. Plain and simple. Nothing you can do about that. Brush it off and come back tomorrow.
Pick your Poison
If Kobe Bryant doesn’t kill you, Gasol and Bynum will. The Lakers are so deep and have so many options that it is impossible to contain them all. They are an unofficial All-Star team. The Raptors did a great job on Kobe in the first half but the Bynum/Gasol combo were dominant inside. Bynum slipped into the paint and was active on the glass. The Raptors could not match the energy of the Lakers’ bigs in the first half. When the Raps made adjustments inside in the second half, Kobe killed them on the outside. It’s hard to fault any one defender. They’re just that good. Kobe’s the best player in the world and for most of the game he was quiet. In the fourth the sleeping lion woke up and took it to the Raptors. The Lakers have so many weapons that it is hard to guard against them all.
I’ve said it many times on this Blog, but the Raptors best asset is their depth. It separates them from other teams. They are able to do a lot of different things depending on the lineup they have on the floor. In the second quarter the bench took advantage of the Lakers subs. Toronto has the ability to do this every time out if they focus on the right matchups. Tonight their smaller lineup gave the Lakers fits. Triano used Jack and Calderon effectively to maximize the effectiveness of both players. Jack single-handedly kept the Raptors in the game during the third quarter and the bench got production from many of their weapons from Calderon and Weems to Wright and Johnson. Triano just needs to tighten the rotation. He is getting better at finding the right mix but it is hard when you have so many options.
Plus the foul
A Small Rant
Am I the only one that sees a problem when the NBA allows its referees to call “make-up” calls and blow the whistle more based on reputation in the league? I know many will say “this is just the way it is” and “you’re never going to change it”. I think the NBA is the only professional league in the world that changes its rules based on the reputation of the players involved in a play. Don’t get me wrong, I know the Raptors are a beneficiary of this logic when they play at home, but this cannot be the best way to run a professional league. David Stern needs to finally come out and address the inconsistency of his officials. He should have done it after the Tim Donaghy affair. If the NHL can work on re-defining a “clean” vs. “unclean” body-check, then the NBA can band together to clearly define a foul.
Kobe lived on the line in the fourth, as he often does, and he wasn’t deserving of all the the calls unless you’re basing the calls on what he has accomplished in his career instead of the play happening on the court. The phantom calls may or may not have affected the end result in this game, but as a fan, it is frustrating to watch. Something should be done.
Zan of the Night
Kobe Bryant. Yes he was the beneficiary of some phantom calls, but the guy has ice in his veins. He willed his team to victory in the second half and deserves credit for that. Many of his teammates had off-nights but he kept the Lakers close and then, with some assistance from the referees, stole a victory from the Raptors.
Not Zan of the Night
Hedo Turkoglu. He made some wise choices during the game and looked good in spurts. He was, however, in early foul trouble and made a terrible turnover late in the game. Honorable Mention to Sportcentre. You lead in with the two worst hockey teams in the league (Edmonton and Toronto) instead of a thrilling basketball game in Los Angeles. I love hockey, but really?
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @zantabakherald
***Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald