Preview & Chat: The Toronto Raptors

Kurt —  January 24, 2010

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Records: Lakers 32-10 (1st in West) Raptors 22-22 (6th in East)
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 108.3 (10th in league), Raptors 111.2 (4th in league)
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 101.2 (2nd in league) Raptors 112.7 (30th in league)

Soft? Who You Calling Soft? After the Cleveland game, the “are the Lakers tough enough?” debate has started up again. No doubt, the Lakers were pushed around inside twice now by the Cavs, although I agree with Brian Kamenetzky that the “soft” label is really used a lot to cover up a multitude of other sins.

But I think Mike Moreau has a great take on this (thanks to Busboy for the link). Moreau is the head NBA guy at the IMG training centers (taking David Thorpe’s old job, as Thorpe has gone out his own). I met him at Summer League and he has a great basketball mind, and is a good guy. And he talked about how the Lakers shook the soft label in the playoffs last year.

Go back and look at their series with Denver in last season’s Western Conference Finals. Denver was mauling the Lakers around the basket, killing them inside, beating them up in the paint. L.A. was wearing the soft label again.

So how did the Lakers react? They came back with 54 points in the paint, Odom and Fisher combining for 31 points and 25 assists on 37 field goals, eight players taking at least five shots, and no one taking more than 13. They shared the ball, attacked the rim, and dug in on defense. When last year’s team got punched, they punched back – not only with an aggressive mentality, but with precision execution.
L.A. responded to the challenge on every occasion in last year’s run to the title. They did it first with a change of mind-set, a determination to win the physical battles – from Fisher clocking Scola to Odom crashing the boards to the interior defense locking down. That mentality must be found again on this road trip. The soft, comfy home friendly schedule is over.

But, last year, they also responded with technical points of emphasis in their offense which helped to generate that aggressiveness – more post touches for Gasol, running the high low action between Odom, Gasol and Bynum – which not only got the ball inside and established inside presence, but made plays easier for their supporting cast.

Raptors coming in: Toronto may be a hockey first town, but they have strong hoops culture as well — lots of good blogs and a lot of media coverage. I asked one of them, Hoop Addict’s Ryan McNeil, a couple questions.

1) Defense. Have the Raptors started to play any lately?

Maybe I’m biased but I don’t think Toronto’s defense is nearly as bad as it was made out to be.

Sure, they were on pace to earn the title of worse defense in the history of the NBA, but what people don’t realize is this was just one bad month. Back in November the team was in the middle of getting eight new rotation guys used to Jay Triano’s sets after Bryan Colangelo had a busy season. Throw into the mix Chris Bosh, Antoine Wright and Hedo Turkoglu missed most of the preseason due to injuries and there are plenty of excuses for why the team got off to a rough start.

The team has since regrouped and aren’t as terrible as they started off. Things have slowly improved to the point where in December the team ranked in the top five in terms of team defense. Will they be an elite team on the defensive team? Nope! But come playoff time they’ll have a defensive system in place that they can compete and possibly even surprise a team or two.

Also worth noting is the team threw out a zone defense against Milwaukee on Friday that completely frustrated the Bucks. Look for Triano to possibly throw it out again on Sunday against Los Angeles.

2) What is the local feeling on Bosh? Is it that he’ll stay, that he’s gone and should be traded now to get something back, or something else?

I don’t think even Bosh knows what he’ll do this summer so it’s impossible for me to give an educated answer to that question. Sorry.

Does the fact Bosh is keeping an open mind mean Bryan Colangelo will panic and deal him? I doubt it. Based on the law of diminishing returns it makes no sense at this point to deal Bosh unless it’s a good deal for Toronto. Look for the team to ride out the remainder of the season, try to resign him in July and if they can’t the team will work a sign-and-trade with the team that wants to sign him. Even if he bolts town they’ll have a ton of money to put some solid pieces back onto the roster.

Raptors blogs Check out Raptors Republic, these guys are good and hitting it hard in the Great White North.

Keys to game: Toronto is a good offensive team and they are going to score points. If Bargani plays (he’s a game time decision) he’s a big that can stretch the floor with his shooting, always a problem for the Lakers.

Toronto has played a lot of zone defense lately to cover their man-to-man weaknesses. The Lakers need to attack the soft middle of the zone — not with post isolation but with guys flashing into the key, and some high-low would be nice as well. Also, the Lakers shooters are going to have to knock down a few shots over the top of the zone, but they can’t start to settle for that shot every time down.

Where you can watch: 3 p.m. start here out west, on KCAL 9. Plus, ESPN radio 710am.

Kurt

Posts

134 responses to Preview & Chat: The Toronto Raptors

  1. This One’s For Warren!

  2. Lakers&DodgersFan January 24, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Hopefully Pau will get out of his “soft” phase today. Seriously, these past few games have been AWFUL for him. He’s missing free throws and putbacks, and is afraid to get hit going for a rebound or a layup. In the conference finals & Finals last year, it seemed like the “soft” label was gone once and for all, but it’s coming back now.

  3. Lakers&DodgersFan January 24, 2010 at 10:31 am

    This game isn’t on ESPN!

  4. 2: Didn’t look all that awful/soft in the fourth quarter to me. (Vs the Knicks ie.)

  5. Kurt, are you calling Bargani a “but”? (if so, you are missing a “t”). since you are going to have to go back and edit the ESPN thing, might as well check that sentence too.
    cheers!
    go Lakes!
    andrew should have some extra motivation against Bosh today, and visa versa, eh?
    also, keep an eye on Calderone, heard rumors he could be in the mix if there’s a shake up in Toronto.

  6. Is it odd that I’m leaning towards making the NFC Championship game my “B” channel during a mid-January road-trip game against Toronto?

  7. 6, phineas, No not odd, but I’m going to keep my 100% streak of Laker games watched over a football game with two teams I don’t care about. (Even though the stakes are really high and it will most likely be a really entertaining game.)

  8. I am not a doctor. But is it really plausible that Kobe’s finger is healing as fast as it would with total rest? Because that’s what Dr. Mamba is claiming.

  9. Let’s hope they come out with some fire and blow out the Raptors cuz I would really enjoy able to turn off this game if it’s well in hand so I can watch the Vikings Saints game.

  10. Personally, I believe Kobe should just rest a week or two for his finger. Yes, I know he is a competitor, but his injury has been hampering his shooting and ball handling which, in turn, hampers the team’s chances.

    The arguments that Kobe being in a game inspires his team and is still a presence are true, but is it really worth it? Kobe has been shooting a steady 33% over the past few games, and those shots would fall at a higher rate if it was Gasol or Bynum taking them. I would much rather Kobe sit out a few games rather than continue to play with a bad finger (among other injuries).

    What I don’t understand is, why does he keep shooting at such a high volume? The finger is clearly bothering him, since he was shooting a slight above 50% before the injury. That could also be because Kobe was setting up in the post more, in which case I wonder, why not go back to the post more often, considering that his finger is hurting his range? If the reason is because Gasol and Bynum are both in the game, then are we playing players together because we’re supposed to (ie. always playing starters after halftime, even if it was more effective with Odom and Farmar in the lineup) rather than what’s best for our chances to win a game?

  11. Those fans who are still hoping for a permanent change by Pau to being a more physical/tougher player can forget it. Just like the fans have learned to accept Odom’s inconsistency, they have to understand that Pau’s game is finesse, not power. He’ll have to be pushed by his coaches, teammates and the opposing players’ rough play every year in order to bring out his tougher side.

  12. Yes, Kobe needs to sit and rest his finger. I’m no doctor but having it hit over and over in games surely cannot make it heal faster than resting it. I love Kobe and his warrior attitude, but we need him healthy for the playoffs.

    Also, LO’s comments about the team being cocky… If this is what the team really thinks then that is their biggest problem. Do they really think they can just turn it on whenever they choose? What a horrible attitude! First time I’m ashamed to be a Laker fan. One thing to be confident, another thing to think you don’t even have to play hard to win games.

  13. Paging Dr. Mamba. Dr. Mamba please pickup the gold courtesy phone.

  14. I’m intrigued by this game because TOR really doesn’t have too many good defensive players. They have good athletes, but their defense is average at best. However, they have a lot of good offensive players including a center who shoots well from the outside. Their best three point threats are front court players. Pau and Bynum have to respect that. I think we’ll see a lot of Odom if Bargnani gets hot.

    We really need to get back on defense and our bigs have to be active early and often.

    We’ll win if Pau and Bynum combine for more than 40 points and 20 rebounds.

  15. Wow. Those who weren’t satisfied with the close win over NY, take heart – it looks like we inflicted irreversible psychological damage on the Knickerbockers. How else do you explain a 128-78 beatdown?

  16. there is some hops from Kobe, they are still there

  17. 7 rebounds for Kobe already, including one vicious putback. Guess he can still jump after all.

    However, his handle still looks shaky.

  18. Lmao this is gold, from Kevin Ding, via DexFish at SSNR:

    Andrew Bynum overslept, missed team plane to TOR on Saturday. Had to fly commercial — small jet, no first class — Sat night.

  19. Any link ?

  20. league pass broadband is having trouble…end of the 1st and still no broadcast.

  21. Is NBA league pass not working for anyone else? Broadband that is.

  22. So how is possible to score almost every point in the paint, and no FT in a quarter and a half???

  23. Does anyone know what happened to Luke? I thought he was pretty effective in the 2-3 games when he returned, now it feels like he’s vanished.

  24. I dont think Gasol is soft on the defensive end of the floor because he can play great D as shown against Dwight Howard and he has played Shaq with great success on defense many times before too, his soft label comes from how he finishes on the offensive end, He avoids contact and going up strong but that’s his game he prefers to use finesse to finish shots because he has such great touch. The only reason the label has come up again is because of how he performed against Cleveland twice this season.

  25. Snoopy: The Toronto commentators just confirmed that story – funny:D

  26. Eric: Hear hear.

  27. How many offensive boards did that count for?

  28. Gotta love how Kobe is playing tonight. He’s finding all of the weak spots in the defense and exploiting them every time.

  29. Kobe has done a great job getting players involved so far.
    Agreed Eric, he is probably the Lakers most solid big man on defense.

  30. 25, it counted 4 fro Pau and 2 for Drew, what I wonder is how many fouls received Pau there without a call…

  31. If anyone isn’t watching the football game it is a solid showing of offense so far.

  32. I’m aware that Kurt doesn’t like it but the referees are screwing us in both ends…

  33. Once again no defense tonight in the first half, but Kobe is feeling it today and getting his within reasonable shooting numbers.

  34. The Lakers need to step up on the defensive end this half. The only reason they are ahead is they have dominated the glass, having grabbed 41.4% of their missed shots.

  35. Gasol with 16 FGA, Kobe and Bynum with 12FGA each. I like that.

  36. that hurts to see kobe miss dunks like that. at least he made that three to make up for it. hopefully we can blame it on the finger or back instead of age.

  37. I saw a monster in a dream. The stare of Nesterovic paired with the feet of Artest.

  38. Can’t complain about the defense in this half…

    37

    What’s Bosh’s excuse? :P

  39. Did kobe drink from the fountain of youth before the game?!

  40. Toronto is making some tough shots right now.

  41. Toronto making impossible shots, otherwise this game would be all but over.

    Kobe is just showing an amount of skill unmatched by any other player in the league. I’m ok with people thinking that Lebron is the better player in terms of value to his team, but in terms of skill it’s not even a contest.

  42. redemption dunk! I do think there is something about toronto that sparks kobe’s play to another level.

  43. 43

    It could be partly due to the fact that they can’t defend an opinion, let alone another NBA team.

  44. a call would be nice

  45. 5 FT to 16 FT ?????????? There’s something about it that really bothers me, it’s just mistifiying the fact that Pau hasn’t drawn a shooting foul in 19 FGA….

    I know what you’re going to reply Kurt, but as I stated the other day, if my deccission making was as good as an NBA ref, I would be killing a lot of people at the operating table… (and being sued a lot as well…)

  46. Farmar with the pujit..

  47. the raptors have made some unbelievably difficult shots tonight

  48. Seriously… Some of the shots Bosh is making are just unreal. I don’t know what else Bynum could have done there.

  49. 49 – I feel like you could say the same about half of Toronto’s shots in the second half. Belinelli’s leaners, Jack’s floaters, etc.

  50. Thank God for Kobe there that’s a shot Pau needs to dunk

  51. That’s at least the second time where Bynum has made a great defensive play, only to have it ruined by Bargnani picking up the ball while Pau watched.

  52. Kobe with 2 huge plays in a row

  53. Kobe is unbelievable.

  54. It’s pretty scary to think how good Bosh could be on an elite talented team

  55. Kobe knocks the ball loose, manages to grab it, stay inbound, and as he’s falling out of bounds, finds Bynum for the lay in. Is this guy good is this guy good?

  56. I think Kobe might be setting a career high for boards tonight.

  57. kobe setting everyone up and no one finishing

  58. Kobe deserves a triple double the way he has played today, that’s a shot Pau needs to be ready to shoot off the screen and roll.

  59. It¡s like Pau is still off after the injury… He¡s becoming frustrating to watch lately, because you can see that there’s a lot there, but he doesn’t let it out.

    Auch, this one is going to be a tough loss if we finally lose it.

  60. For everyone thinking Kobe should sit out hopefully this game puts those ideas to rest, he could not have played a better game. He didn’t have a choice but to fire up that last shot.

  61. Wow just checked the box score. Kobe with a game-high 16 boards, that’s impressive. 1 more assist for a trip-double…

  62. Just one stop…here we go.

  63. Ummmm, where was the foul?

  64. where was the foul??

  65. They took about 7 or 8 seconds to get the ball inbounds…

  66. Did anyone see a foul there?

  67. Do we need Kobe to make another buzzer beater to get a win?

  68. When can we start blaming Phil for this team’s performance lately?

    This game should have been over a quarter ago.

  69. what a bull call….. alright, another kobe game winner?

  70. If the Raptors coach had half a brain he would make sure his players didn’t allow Kobe to get this ball to shoot the last shot.

  71. come here to say this
    1.2 left

    It’s going in!
    *edit:I am sorry

  72. It’s still amazing that he has the strength to get that shot so close, despite mishandling it initially.

  73. Is that three games in a row where the opposing team’s frontcourt has matched or outplayed ours?

  74. Poor defense and a lack of execution and finishing in the 4th quarter. 1-2 Not a great way to start the road trip.

  75. We got exactly what we deserved! Letting a sh*tbox raptors team hang around like that is inexcusable! Difficult shots or not, if we would just, for once, play a complete game for a full 48 minutes, the only thing those difficult shots would have done was cut our lead to 20! But instead, we keep making the same mental mistakes like we have all season that let crappy teams either keep it close or even steal some games. It’s so disheartening to keep watching this happen over and over…

  76. What do you think, Lakers8884? The same stupid mistakes keep biting us in the rear!

  77. 9 free throws to 26? including a bogus one at the end…

  78. Can’t help to think that the FT disparity (17 FT less than the Rap,)in a game where we score half of our points in the paint, it’s just hard to explain. And as much as I review it, I can’t see the contact between Pau and Hedo in the last one. It was our fault to lose, but the refs help a lot there.

  79. That was an absolute BOGUS call at the end of the game. Turkoglu is one of the biggest floppers in the game.

  80. Kobe was 9/15 FG at one point and went 2/9 to end the game =(

    You’ve got to be able to get a shot closer than 38 feet on that last play.

  81. Something is wrong with Pau. He is playing extremely timid. The Lakers blew the game by not scoring on the Brown turnover. You need an established point guard in there but Fish is not a scoring option. They need help. I have been saying it, and I will keep saying it. They need someone for Kobe to count on at the end of games. Pau is losing Kobe’s trust and that ain’t good.

  82. Watch the foul call again on the last play, Gasol had his hand on his back and could have pushed.

    But I will say this again — if you leave the game in the hands of the refs late you play roulette. They miss calls. The Lakers had turnovers and sloppy plays late and scored two points in the final 3:20. That is how you blow a lead.

  83. I’m not usually one to blame losses on officiating, but this is an instance where I can’t help myself. The refs rewarded Hedo’s shameless out of control flop and Pau got 2 FTA on 23 shots. How is that even possible?

  84. Aside from the ridiculous call at the end of the game, I was really frustrated at how the Lakers kept going pick-n-roll at the end of the game instead of just letting Kobe take his defender 1 on 1. They couldn’t stop him and everytime we brought a screener, Toronto just kept trapping Kobe forcing him to give it up. Why don’t they just let Kobe go 1 on 1 at the end of the game?

  85. I still have confidence in the Lakers, but if the Cavs end up with Jamison, this is a wrap. They have to have another dependable scorer. I don’t say a shooter because the outside shots are hit and miss. A scorer would help Kobe and Pau with dives to the basket and being able to take the triple teams off Kobe. A person who plays some defense would be nice too.

    Pau did foul him, he had his hand on his shoulder. Watch the replay. The only thing is that you don’t make that call because it wasn’t a shot it was a pass to the corner for Jack.

  86. After watching the refs conceeding the TD to NO, when it was crystal clear that both knees were in the ground way before he put the ball down, it’s clear that the main requirement to be a pro ref in american sports is to simply suck at it.

  87. i didn’t watch this game excpet for the last 5, but looking at the stats, yes 9 free throws to 26. you can say that’s lack of aggression but its hard to believe that they weren’t somewhat aggressive in there scoring all those points in the paint and grabbing 51 rebounds on opp 47 percent shooting…

    but yeah, shouldve put the lead up by 6 on that pass to brown….

  88. 82, I was about to write the same, his game is somewhere lost inside him, and while I’ve seen him struggling after a comeback a few times over the years (as it happened to him this summer at Eurochampionshio), and he’s been able to rebound from it with a little time, the concern here is how long will it take to regain (and if) Kobe’s trust after he recovers from his slump.

    I see the hand, but there¡s no elbow motion, or shoulder push, so there’s no way he was able to push him, and callinf a game deciding foul, for something that you cannot have seen, only guessed, reafirms my theory that if a follow the decission making process of the NBA refs I would kill a lot of patients…

  89. 86. they botched a call in the football game? i thought football was the best officiated pro sport…. how i wish i could be a football fan.

  90. That was a pretty bad call at the end. Bad result to a game that we led for all but a minute or 2 it seems. On the positive side, I thought Kobe played a very smart and balanced game and Farmar showed some grit.

    Oh well, on to the march on Washington

  91. bogus calls,really bad officiating,raptors bailed out.
    Last shot was really close,Kobe should have played 43 mins instead of 40.

  92. 85. Rudy but that’s what so many fans have been crying about over the past few games how Kobe just goes 1 on 1, it’s sadly just how Kobe has always been, if he tries to do it alone he shoots to much, but if he tries to get everyone else involved and they dont deliver then he’s being too unselfish. It’s a double standard that sadly only applies to a guy like him.

    And personally I dont blame the referees give me a break your on the road those calls are going to happen and you can count on there being a big disadvantage in the free throw department when you’re away from home. We lost this game on the defensive end, you win games on the defensive end and the Lakers could not get the stops necessary to win the game. If you put yourself in a position to win the play before the Turkoglu drive then it doesn’t matter if you let the refs give him two free ones at the end.

    On another note hats off to Kobe, the dude put it all on the line and did everything he could to win the game, yes he missed the last shot, but the way he played we shouldn’t have needed the last shot to win had we played defense the whole game.

  93. There goes 72-10….

  94. Lakers8884 – Fans complain about Kobe going 1 on 1 throughout the game when our offense is working and he tends to not get people involved. I was referring to the last couple possessions when we were running the pick-n-roll with Kobe and Bynum. This in my opinion helped the Raptors out because it made it easier to double Kobe.

    In crunch time, I want the ball in Kobe’s hands with the floor spread, especially when he’s shooting the ball well.

  95. 92. thats true… totally true. i just find it frustrating that this happens time and time again in the nba. time and time again.

    i was wathcing this exciting game the other night (i forgot what) and with less than a minute ago, there was an out of bounds play that the refs were uncertain about, got the call wrong. and they did NOT use the replay rule! why the hell not? i don’t know.

    anyone see the warriors nuggets game last month. melo and billups didn’t play. smith took a wild 40 footer at the buzzer. nobody touched him… they called a foul. 3 freethrows. nuggets win…

    i mean, its ridiculous how many wins should be losses and losses wins.

    the nba, where all the games need to be replayed because none of them were ever right.

  96. With 3 seconds to go, we should have gotten something going to the hoops rather than a fade away jumper which Kobe attempted.

    With 1.2 seconds to go, why couldn’t we try a lob to Pau or Andrew?

    I know that Kobe is the best at making buzzer beaters, but a nice change of pace could be successful time to time.

    However the game was lost because we merely exchanged baskets with them rather than putting the game out of reach for the Raptors.

    6-2 would be still be a good road trip…but can we go 4-0 the rest of the trip?

  97. Rudy, I agree with what you’re saying I was just pointing out what some other fans on here have been saying.

  98. Pb, the Lakers can go 4-0 the rest of the trip, they play 3 bottom feeders the next 3 games but to go 4-0 they would have to beat Boston.

    Last year this is the road trip where the Lakers said they knew they had a chance to win it all after they went undefeated without Bynum, so far pretty disappointing trip.

  99. Kurt,

    Yes, Gasol had his hand on Hedo’s back on that play, but my problem is that Gasol, Bynum, and Kobe were getting hammered much harder than that the entire game and they only have 9 freethrows to show for it.

    This officiating was really lopsided this game.

    However, the lakers should have still won this game. I’m extremely dissapointed at Phil’s coaching. Lamar was having a terrible game. His defense was extremely bad all game and he had a +/- of 10 points yet Lamar was in during crunch time. Bynum had a really solid all around game and played great defense and wasn’t rewarded by being on the court in crunch time.

    Phil also left Luke and Shannon in way to long. Luke just started forcing plays before he was taken out, plus that was a bad inbound pass on the very last play of the game.

    Artest has to and should be in the game in 4th quarters. Why doesn’t Artest play in the 4th quarter.

    Back to Lamar, he has yet to show up on this road trip. I just hope he does by the time the Lakers play Boston. And Kurt, Darius, Zephid, is Lamar as bad defensively as I think he is? Lamar is always confused on switches. Slow to react to plays. Doesn’t use his length to close out on players. And I can’t remember the last time Lamar has made a good defense play as a help defender.

  100. Pau’s left hand was in his back and right on his right shoulder. It was a BS for the end of the game but the Lakers are at fault for not just punishing them inside and blowing this team out. Props to Zirk @76.

    Dallas beats NY by 50 and we they (NY) played us even. We are soft and don’t have a deep enough bench to make it happen. PJ better get the troops ready, we are headed for the deep water and some of them are too scared to swim.

  101. Shouldn’t we be asking ourselves why it came down to the last 1 or 2 possessions in the first place? Regardless of the officiating, even if we would’ve gotten that last stop or if kobe would’ve hit the game winner, is that what a championship team needs to beat the craptors? A team that everyone knows has no shot of coming out of the east.

    So here’s an idea. As the final seconds of a game tick away, how about having a 15-pt. lead or so. Just try it. Give it a shot. From what I hear, it’s a good situation to be in. But then again, what do I know? But the point is, if we would just play a complete game for all 48 minutes, we would easily have those kinds of leads.

    And I’m not buying the cliches like “we’re always gonna get the other team’s A game” as excuses anymore. Those lame excuses don’t fly anymore for one simple reason. WE SHOULD ALREADY KNOW THAT! WE SHOULD EXPECT THAT! So prepare for it. We should raise the level of our intensity, our focus, our hustle, etc. to account for it. It’s really that simple. Because we all know that if we play our A game, nobody comes close to beating us.

  102. Amen, Zirk and enough with the well we still have the best record in the league excuses because quite frankly we dont anymore, we are tied with Cleveland in losses but you cannot bank on saying that anymore.

  103. 99. i thought odom was in only for the last defensive play? but bynum had been playing during crunch time up to that play.

  104. Very true, Lakers8884. And if we continue to play like this, mentally weak and down to the level of the competition, we’ll be lucky to have the best record in the West in the next few weeks!

  105. You’ve got to question the mentality of the team right now. You cannot just turn it on when you feel like it because this league is so talented and almost all the teams have improved.

    It’s really beginning to feel like this Lakers team thinks they are entitled to the championship instead of going out and earning it night after night like they did last year.

  106. 107, but they didn’t earn it night after night last year. The team struggled, had some ugly losses, and didn’t play up to potential for a lot of the regular season. People were questioning the team’s mentality all the way up till Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

    Now I don’t think anyone here is wrong in saying that the team needs some mental fortitude, but I’m just saying that people were saying the same things last year as they are this year.

  107. Zephid they continually earned it against the best teams in the league, and their record by the end of the season shows it, This team has yet to do so.

  108. 107) – That comes with the territory to a degree. Last season everyone had something to prove. Pau wanted to prove he wasn’t as “soft” as everyone thought he was. Phil wanted to prove he could take over a young team and actually develop them. Fish wanted to prove he still has some championship juice left. And Kobe had A LOT to prove. They got to the top of the mountain and now a lot of those motivating factors are not there anymore.

    In some ways it does remind me of the 2001 team. The 2000 team was hungry. The 2001 team was often cocky, disinterested and in a constant state of bickering (Shaq and Kobe). Fortunately for them there was only one real team that could take them down that year, the Spurs. But this team has a few teams that could take them down. They don’t have the luxury of waiting until the last 10 games or so to get it together.

    I can’t help but think they know this. But knowing it and acting on it are two different things. On some level we can’t really understand what is going on because we are not pro basketball players trying to repeat as champions. We also are not in the Lakers locker room. We are fans watching from afar. Three games into the roadie and they are 1-2. Here’s to hoping they can go 5-0 the rest of the way.

  109. The Raptors dont suck, The lakers just got outplayed at the ACC! Raps are playing really well of late and you cant ignore that!

  110. Kobe’s playing w/mangled hands.
    Artest is playing on bad feet.
    Pau is recovering from hamstring injury which robs a player of explosiveness.

    And the back-up SG/SF/PFs play 48 minutes-20% of available minutes-and contribute a whopping 8 points.

    The wonder is not that Lakers lost,but that they almost won.

  111. Stephen those excuses dont exactly work in this case, they should have won the game because they were superior in talent, they were just not interested in playing any defense in the game.

  112. My personal view of last year.

    Houston exposed our lack of a KILLER’S HEART. We beat a TEAM that was willing to do what it takes to win (somewhat like the Jets this year). Denver proved that they could beat us, but they weren’t the most intelligent of teams and we won on ramping it up and exploiting our advantage inside.

    The one team from the East that we could easily beat was Orlando. Don’t forget, they had a chance to win a game if they complete a lay-up and we got lucky when Fish hits those 3’s.

    We were not and are not as dominate as we think we are. We are more cocky than great. We need to get off our pedestals and realize, that we have to earn every game. We must dominate in the areas that we are better than our opponents, and fight to be the best team ever instead of resting on what we consider talent. Those who take opportunities for granted are foolish. I know Kobe, PJ, and Fish understand this, what about the rest of the team?

  113. Fact. Fish can’t guard anyone in the NBA. Also how mant times has he gone to the bucket to have it blocked? Is he just stupid? He must be shooting 10% in the paint this year. Artest can’t jump at all. He can’t therefore stop anyone from taking a 18 foot jumper. Lakers are 5-5 last 10 and stand to lose 7 or 8 games this month. No way this time wins this year when 40% of starting lineup can’t defend.

  114. 109, interesting, because last year, nobody seemed to care about our record against elite teams during the regular season when we were busy during the Houston and Denver series’ losing home court advantage and getting whomped by 20 on the road.

  115. No way the Lakers win it this year. They have no heart. Thought Artest was going to make them unbeatable but now it looks like Ariza is what they need. Guess it was lose-lose….or maybe TA is happy.

    I don’t want to blame it on Artest, it appears that he has injuries.

    But some of the other players – no excuse!!! Pau, LO, sasha, Bynum.

  116. ZOMG WE LOST A REGULAR SEASON GAME IN MID JANUARY! THE SKY IS FALLING!!1!11!!! THERE GOES THE SEASON!

  117. I cant speak for everyone Zephid but last year I saw beating Boston, and Cleveland and others as signs that the Lakers had it in them to beat the elites and win the whole thing. I cant speak for everyone else, but for me losing to teams that were average last year had to do with disinterest in the games (which happens in an 82 game season). I for one didn’t care that we had lost to Charlotte twice last season because A. They wouldnt be in the playoffs and B. We beat the teams that we could potentially face in the finals.

    And the losses you talk about showed the inconsistency in the team during the playoffs, the lack of effort and interest games that against elite teams can come back to haunt you. I dont even know why you bring that up because it’s blatantly obvious they have the same problems now except the problem is the rest of the league has caught up with the Lakers in terms of talent which as last year there were very few teams that could compete with them. If you think those two losses to Cleveland dont matter now (exposing some bad issues with team personnel) then you aren’t look ahead to playoff time because they have superior talent. It’s called preparation and having a sense of false pride is a harmful problem. Me along with other people here would rather be safe than sorry come playoff time.

  118. Sorry there Daniel but we are a .500 team the last 14 games Also Lakers are now .500 aganist the top 10 teams this year. Lets see what the record is when the home and away are even. They are 10 and 8 on the road. There point guard can’t shoot or playD, their new defensive stopper can’t jump off the ground and their 6th-man is more interested in his reality show the basketball. That’s all a problem

  119. Artest has two bad feet… before he was hurt he was shutting everyone down. It goes to show you that defense isn’t as much about effort and desire as it is about talent.

  120. If he has two bad feet why is he starting? Sounds like bad coaching to me. He gave up most of the jump shots in the 4th aganist James and aganist the Knicks his man had 28 points. Start Odem and let Ron rest. He has been a minus in plus-minus everygame since he returned from his fall.

  121. Toronto: 21-26 Free Throws.
    Los Angeles: 9-9 Free Throws.

    17 Free Throws is a big difference, especially during a game when so much of our offense was where it belong… in the post and in the paint.

    I know that you need to overcome such things, but time and time again the referees DO decide not only the outcome of the game, but the way the game was played. Pace, physicality, intensity.

    I watched the game, and to use Bynum as the easy example, Andrew was fouled more than 3 times.

    As I said, I would be happy with 4-4 this road trip, and pleasantly surprised with 5-3.

  122. We mostly saw the best of “good Kobe,” Gasol and Bynum both got their points, and somehow they couldn’t shake the Raptors.

    I’m not sure why. This was a very depressing loss.

  123. Toronto is a good team, and it was just karma. Now we’re 6-1 in games decided by 5 points or less. Had to even out at some point.

    I’ve decided that Kobe is the anti-roy. Roy has like 2 moves and he’s very good at them and converts at a high efficiency. He looks to pass first and he never seems to get emotional.

    Kobe has like 10,000 moves, he’s not overly efficient at most of them (except the foul-line jumper) , he gets caught up in the moment very often (every game with LeBron…sigh), and he looks for his own shot.

    He ALMOST made that crazy shot tonight. How sick would that have been?

    We’ll be fine, as long as we don’t have to face Cleveland anymore.

  124. @ drrayeye, totally.

    Generally speaking, I thought we played pretty well tonight. I was happy to see Pau being fed in the post, happy Drew was rolling to the basket and getting some easy put-ins, happy that Kobe looked young and fresh and full of fire-power for the first time in god knows how long. Happy that our platoon of backup pgs resisted (for the most part) the apparently insatiable urge to waste a well-earned turnover on a PUJIT. Etc.

    I didn’t actually think we were going to lose this one, pretty much ever. And then, with under a minute to go, I thought: Oh crap.

  125. Haha. In the end, the main thing I was rooting for was for Kobe to get a triple-double. That’s not because I value stats more than a win, but because, well, the win should have been ours and it looked so.

    Anyways, Kobe’s finger’s recovery time was estimated at four to six weeks. Today is six weeks and a day. The main reason is that anytime Kobe makes some sort of recovery progress on his finger, it gets hit in a game that sets him back more days. That’s not to say an estimation is 100% correct (See: Bynum 2008 and 2009), but I can’t help but feel that resting would have been the smartest play.

  126. I know why Sasha and Ron Artest are not playing as well. Its their crappy Shoes that they wear.

    Lakers coach Phil Jackson suggested that Artest’s foot ailments stem from the sneakers he wears. Artest has an endorsement with Peak, a Chinese company that also outfits the feet of teammate Sasha Vujacic and the Mavericks’ Jason Kidd.

    “I called his shoes concrete boots for about the last month,” Jackson said to ESPNLosAngeles.com. “Those shoes look like they’re made for the Hudson River.”

    Jackson added that the shoes affect his play.

    “He stays with them and he gets his feet worked on but he does not move really quickly,” he said to ESPNLosAngeles.com. “He looks like he’s clogging around out there.”

  127. 118) – I agree. By beating the top teams in the regular season last year showed the Lakers could (if they focused) beat ANY team in the league. What we saw in the playoffs was a lack of focus and consistency. I don’t buy the “lack of heart” arguement. I think they proved that with the way the took those last two games from Denver clinching the series on the road.

    I don’t think the sky is falling. But I do wonder how many games some need to see before they can a least concede that there are some real issues with the team. It doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t get it together. But right now, it ain’t together.

  128. I understand everyone’s concerns here about the inconsistent effort on display during the course of the season and, more specifically, over the last fifteen games or so that we have really struggled. It’s frustrating to watch a team with so much talent and potential play only to the level of its competition so often. Hearing the Toronto announcers refer to LO’s characterization of this team as “cocky” was eye-opening to me and I am unsure of whether he realizes that this is a decidedly negative characteristic to have.

    With all that being said, I think these struggles need to be put into perspective (a hard thing for me to do being a frustrated/disappointed/etc. fan at the moment). During the course of an 82 game season there will be ups-and-downs not only from an energy/effort standpoint, but also from an execution standpoint. While I agree that the effort is inconsistent, I would also assert that we, plain and simple, just aren’t playing very well right now (at least in relation to our considerable potential) for various reasons. Right now, Cleveland is playing better than us and, as such, they beat us. And as much as that loss stung, it ultimately does not decide our fate this season. When things have gone well this season (think back to our 11-game win streak, 10 of which were by double-digits), it felt like we would never lose. Now things aren’t going very well and it feels like we’ll never be able to dig our way out of it. During an 82-game season these highs and lows are bound to happen and as fans we drive ourselves crazy over-analyzing the portion of the roller coaster we’re riding at the moment. Undoubtedly, there are many areas that must be addressed from an execution stand-point but remember that this is the same group of guys that looked so unstoppable at the beginning of the season when Pau first came back. It’s better to realize our shortcomings now and address them than to realize them too late, and it’s better to peak in June than in January. We have a guy with 10 rings in charge of figuring it out and some guy named Kobe. Like Kurt has said, I have hope.

  129. The sky is not falling, but if you continue to lose everytime you are pressed by a .500 plus team every other team will gain confidence against you. Now you have to come with it every game or you will have these type loses. I felt the same way last year. Play like the Lakers of the Showtime era or Boston in the 80s or Chicagao during MJ’s day , play to win every game.

    I don’t know what goes on with teams like the Lakers. I agree with (@T Rogers) they did the same thing in 2001, the difference is we don’t have a healthy Shaq this time around. Boston had that killer instict last year but they lost KG at a bad time. How would we fair without Pau during the finals run?

  130. Most of us on this site are like Kobe. We want to win every game and we can’t understand why our teams don’t feel the same way. We write on this site because we have a passion for our team. It is hard for a person like me to accept that my team just doesn’t give a damn. Everytime I see Lamar lope down the court, Pau shrug when he misses a point blank shot, or Andrew quit after he doesn’t get a couple foul calls I get pissed. I think to myself if God had given the height or the talent I would never take it for granted like I see today’s pro do so often. Hopefully, we can rip off 10 of 11or 12 and make us all feel whole again.

  131. 127. Just imagining Phil in an interview saying that had me laughing out loud! Seriously though, he may want to consider dropping that endorsement deal…although his offers at this point are probably almost obsolete.

  132. I was at the game 7th row up for my first laker game ever , im from montreal and i had to drive 5 hours to go see them but it was soooo worth it.

    A couple of things that i took away from the game live.

    1. Pau played very soft, a couple of plays where he should have had the rebound or scored on the intial shot but got outworked and out muscled by bargnianni very disturbing.

    2. Bynum is really good and needs to get more touches, there were too many times that he didnt get the bal deep, no one on TO’s front line had the strength to contain him.

    3. Farmar had a great game, live he is very emoitional player and that can be both good and bad but tonight it was good.

    4. Very bad officiating especially live, kobe was fouled at least 4-5 times that were not called including the big one at the end of the 3rd, you could tell that this was sided for the raptors, another one that was a blatant foul was when antoine wrigt fouled lamar on a layup hitting him straight against the forearm that could be seen from the otherside of the court.

    5. Kobe is amazing to see live , he is a very quiet kind of good and there is nothing too too flashy about the way he plays when you watch him, he is just very structured and is always making the right decision. His footwork is fantastic.

    6. A ton of laker fans in the crowd travelling from all over to come see Kobe it was amazing.

    7. Artest was a no show and his defence didnt seem to be that good when he was on the court.

    8. The pujit is actually a pretty good play when you see it live , they have like 3-4 feet with no one close to them, its a shot they sould make and did i think at least twice in this game.

    9. Our pick and roll defence is pretty bad to watch, we do not do a good enough job of getting our big man to push the dribbler back to the top of the key before his cut past the screen. No one did this well on the entire team.