It was easily predictable that the Lakers would score 120 points against the Raptors — the Lakers have the best offence in the NBA (113.5 points scored per 100 possessions) while the Raptors have the fifth-worst defence (111.2 points allowed per 100 possessions). The Lakers have a ton of weapons which allow them to put up big numbers even when Kobe Bryant plays just 28 minutes and Pau Gasol only plays 30 minutes. Andrew Bynum’s back and he’s didn’t get any smaller while his knee was healing, Shannon Brown could start for most teams but averages fewer than 20 minutes per game for the Lakers, and Matt Barnes (who we briefly thought had signed with the Raptors in July) can hit open jumpers when he’s not playing his brand of in-your-face defence.

The Raptors tried playing a zone for much of the game and it worked for a brief stretch in the third quarter, but zone defences are vulnerable to three-pointers and that’s what Barnes shot to essentially finish the Raptors off in giving the Lakers a 12-point lead with just over three minutes to go.

You really do have to pick your poison against this team. They’ve got plenty of inside scoring with Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, so the zone defence makes sense in trying to limit that damage. The problem is that the Lakers also have five players who make at least 35 percent of their three-pointers — and three of them are shooting 40 percent or better from that range. As noted basketball philosopher Jay Triano once said, “What the f*** are you gonna do?”

The Raptors actually took a six-point lead into the second quarter and the guy mainly responsible for that was Amir Johnson, who played all 12 minutes in the first quarter while scoring 12 points on 6-for-6 shooting, and he didn’t pick up a single foul in the quarter. With Bargnani out of the lineup, Amir stepped up and showcased his improved jumper and ability to put the ball on the floor and drive. We didn’t blink when Chris Bosh had quarters like this, and that’s who Amir reminded me of in the first quarter.

Unfortunately, Amir’s back seized up on him at the end of the quarter and he was pretty much invisible for the rest of the game. It was no fluke that he hit those jumpers – he’s 10-for-24 (42 percent) for the season from 16 feet out after making 15 of 35 shots (43 percent) from that range last season. It’s clear that defences haven’t caught on yet that he can hit that shot — notice how Steve Blake switched off him when Amir got the ball before that last basket. Oh, and I think we can all agree that Matt Devlin got a little carried away when he called Amir’s alley-oop flush the “dunk of the year”.

DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza and Jose Calderon all had fantastic games — DeRozan’s 11-for-11 performance from the free throw line (including a trio of and-ones) was particularly impressive. The problem is that he doesn’t drive to the basket like that every game. He had 11 free throw attempts combined over a four-game stretch earlier this month. If he wants to average 20 points per game in this league, he needs to bring that effort more consistently.

Our final clip is a compilation of Joey Dorsey highlights from yesterday. Joey continues to make a case that he deserves to be part of the rotation with his rebounding, defence and hustle. He had a nice all-around line of six points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals in 17 minutes, and his behind-the-back pass to Kleiza at the beginning of this clip might have been the most surprising play I’ve seen a Raptor make this season.

Comments (10)

  1. I just realized I didn’t mention Solomon Alabi’s debut. Well… he looked slow, stiff and confused out there. I don’t think he’s “ready” yet.

  2. I’m not sure how to take these Raptors-Lakers games. The Raptors definitely get up and play for them; on the other hand, Phil gives a lot of minutes to his bench, including extended minutes in tight fourth quarters before bringing some of the starters back. My take is that he sees it as a good learning experience for some of his role/bench players, and that he really wants them to beat the Raptors without getting bailed out by the Usual Suspects (Gasol, Kobe, & co.).

    Anyone else get that feeling?

  3. yes i think so too. i also think that lakers bench is the best in the league and to play on par with them is not a bad achievement for a youg team.

  4. Actually, Alabi played something like 30 seconds during one game early, where he didn’t get any stat. At least he got a couple of rebounds this time. At one point, both he and Ed Davis were on the floor together. I really like Davis, but you know you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel when those two are on the court together and the game is still in question.

    Wasn’t it Jack Armstrong that said Amir’s dunk was the dunk of the year? I thought Matt Devlin was the one who seemed almost as perplexed as I did about it.

    Lastly, was I the only one who got a bit worried when Dorsey hit the ground on that one play and then proceeded to stretch his back? My first though was that if he goes out, too, then Alabi is going to get some serious minutes.- and that the Raptors would have no chance.

  5. SR,

    Watching the Lakers bench, it struck me that I wasn’t quite sure who had more talent. The Lakers bench or the Raptors starters. Either way, the Raptors starters would make a wicked bench for some contender.

  6. P_Jack is smart. I use to cringe when Lenny would have VC and company on the floor after they racked up a 20 point lead. They would tire and the other team would catch up. Then the Raps had no answer to come back themselves.

    Doesnt matter if you win by 5 or 50. It does matter that your starters get a rest when available.

  7. I always feel like coaches don’t appreciate a move like a behind the back pass enough (while fans overrate it) but Dorsey has really impressed with his feel for the game, soft hands, and timing. I’d like to see some more minutes for JD.

  8. DeMar DeRozan is still a rookie, and inconsistency is another name for rookie.

    That said the potential, athletic ability, age, and desire to improve is exciting for the future.

    The kid has to guard the best player in the NBA (count the rings), an unenviable job, and still managed 3 steals on defense, and 23 points and 2 assists.

    But given the 12 mins in the 3rd quarter when the Raptors repeatedly ran plays for him he dominated whoever tried to guard him scoring 19 points of the team’s 29, even though it was obvious what they were dong, in a very Kobe like performance.

  9. Phil Jackson played his bench players because he was unhappy with the play of his starters and the bench was playing very well, not to give them experience.

  10. just curious johnn19 how you know that? did you ask phil?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *