Lakers at Raptors Points Per Game: If you play dumb, you’ll usually get a reward you won’t like

- January 19th, 2014

It’s been a bad week for Dwane Casey and the Raptors. No matter how hard the coach has tried to preach that no team can be overlooked, no matter how poor their record is, his team doesn’t seem to get the message. Are these Raptors too big for their britches? Too confident they can win simply by showing up? Poor at closing out games due to inexperience? Too shot happy? Perhaps all of the above. The Lakers didn’t play any defence early, perhaps lulling the Raptors into cruise control mode. But the Lakers never went away, constantly battling back from big deficits and urging the Raptors to launch long shot after long shot instead of going inside against a team that doesn’t protect the rim. The Raptors have been burying a ton of threes lately, but if you live by the three, you’ll also die by it some nights. Without a commitment to go inside, teams aren’t going to win many games. Free throw disparity is getting a bit alarming lately.

- This was a bad, bad loss owing to another batch of horrible fourth quarter shot selection, especially from DeMar DeRozan, who said just a day earlier he’s learning what he needs to do better late in games. Not up to par defence also was a key culprit. Toronto might look back on this one and really lament what could have been. The game was there for the taking and the Raptors simply did not play smart enough to close it out. The team has a clear blueprint of what works and what wasn’t offensively, yet, DeRozan (and the other Raptors who allow him to do so) is returning to the Rudy Gay era offence late in games and it’s a massive mistake. It’s not all on DeRozan, but blowing 17 and 19 point leads in the same game is inexcusable and Casey surely will be making that crystal clear.

- Toronto is terrible in Charlotte traditionally, but Monday might be the ideal time to snap out of that, since the Raptors will be motivated and eager to bounce back.

Some thoughts:

- The Lakers came out sharper than expected offensively, considering it was a 10 a.m. start for them and they arrived in Toronto Saturday, with plenty of time to “see” the city. Luckily for the home side, the stats don’t lie when it comes to the ability (or lack thereof) of the Lakers to defend. The team simply can’t do it and had all kinds of trouble stopping the potent, Kyle Lowry-led Raptors attack (the Raptors shot 73.7% in the first quarter, an astounding number), collecting 13 assists. L.A. did much better in the second quarter to close the gap, holding the Raptors to six assists against three turnovers and the Raptors didn’t put anywhere close to the same amount of pressure on L.A.’s defence for the rest of the day compared to the first.

- Patrick Patterson continues to add an element the Raptors have been missing for years. He’s a lot like Donyell Marshall. You can count on Patterson to hit three-pointers and also to attack the glass ferociously while playing a strong defensive game.

- With John Salmons a no-go, Casey turned to Julyan Stone early in the second quarter to provide some defence. Stone made the team for his defence, but has not been used much, especially since the trade. He played well initially, but struggled in the fourth.

- Greivis Vasquez continued his resurgence with his best performance as a Raptor. He gave the team a spark and some big minutes. Casey played him beside Lowry a lot in the absence of Salmons.

- Interesting interview from Chuck Hayes during the broadcast (I’m off to Charlotte plus doing some NFL, so didn’t cover the game live). Hayes talked about how unique these Raptors are in that everyone knows and accepts his role and there is no boat rocking and no egos. Hayes said even on some very good teams he has been on in the past, winning teams, there were a couple of egos (I’d guess Tracy McGrady was one of the players he was referring to. It certainly wasn’t Yao Ming). This is looking down the line, but it will be interesting to see how the chemistry changes when Masai Ujiri adds an established, top player to the mix.

- Toronto had a let-down in the second quarter, cooling off offensively and continuing to not play well at the other end and the Lakers cut the gap. The one man keeping Toronto in front – Patterson. He had an answer repeatedly and was as active as I’ve seen him during his time as a Raptor.

- The foul call on Lowry early in the third quarter when Ryan Kelly ran him over might have been the worst call I’ve ever seen and that’s saying something. It made no sense. Would love to know what the official was thinking, but we don’t get to talk to them (unless we run into them somewhere). It was bizarre.

- Why does Pau Gasol take so many mid-range face-up jumpers when he’s so gifted inside? It’s such a waste of his low-post talents (yes I know Mikd D’Antoni wondered the same thing earlier in the year and it ruffled some feathers, but the coach was right).

- Amir Johnson again showed more creativity with his game. He’s been looking for his teammates to cut to the basket lately and has been finding them when they do. Needs to cut down on the three-point attempts though. Like Gasol, he’s unstoppable inside and shouldn’t be wasting his time attempting shots far away from the basket.

 

Categories: Basketball

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1 comment

  1. Bo says:

    I don’t agree that Masai`s priority move is “adds an established, top player to the mix`. We mostly need to be in a position to replace, if necessary, John Salmons as a swing sub. The rest of the rotation can stay as is …

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