Everything I ever wanted to know about the problems with the Lakers I learned in the last 1:10 of the game in Toronto.
Poor perimeter defense. With 1:02 left, the Raptors ran a high pick-and-pop with Rafer Alston going around Jalen Rose. Both Laker defenders â€” Chucky Atkins and Jumaine Jones â€” follow Alston. That allows Rose, the Raptors leading scorer, to slide off, get the pass from Alston and have an uncontested look from 18 feet. Lakers down by two.
Lack of cohesion on offense. With 58 seconds and ticking, the Lakers come down on offense and run, well…. really itâ€™s hard to say what that was supposed to be. Whatever it was it didnâ€™t work. That means, as always, the ball ends up in Kobeâ€™s hands (this time out past the three point line) with the expectation he will create the opportunity. The result, with 50 seconds left and 15 still on the 24-second clock, is Kobe jacking up a fade-away three pointer.
Interesting substitution patterns. On the Raptors trip down the Lakers play pretty good defense and force Rose to take a tough shot, which he misses. Then Chris Bosh and Laker power-forward-forced-to-play-center Brian Grant battle for the rebound, which Bosh eventually tips to Donyell Marshall (who was quickly fouled and sinks both free throws). Meanwhile the Lakers best rebounder and interior defender, Chris Mihm sits on the bench. He got in early foul trouble then was banished by Frank Hamblen and played only 11 minutes.
Losing the turnover battle. Down by four the Lakers come down looking for a quick shot, and they turn to Kobe to create. He beats his man and as he drives towards the rim down the baseline Chris Bosh slides over to provide defensive help, leaving Lamar Odom under the basket. Lamar stands still and Kobe dribbles closer, jumps and then tries to make the pass to Odom. While that happens 11-year veteran Donyell Marshall recognizes whatâ€™s about to happen, steps in and steals Kobeâ€™s pass. That was the Lakersâ€™ 18th turnover, compared to 9 for the Raptors. Over the course of the game, the Raptors took six more shots than the Lakers.