-The Lakers have been a terrible defensive team all season and that trend continued on Sunday morning as they gave up 108 points to the Raptors. This allowed Toronto to break a 27-game streak of losing when they allowed 100 points. Toronto was aided by a first half ejection of Dwight Howard but nonetheless it was refreshing to see certain members of the starting lineup play so well on the offensive end.
-1pm ET starts do not suit West Coast teams. The Lakers got off to an extremely sluggish start, making just one field goal in the first 4 minutes. This was similar to the start Houston had in Toronto, in mid-December.
-Aaron Gray’s early performance was a direct indication of the Lakers lackadaisical play. Gray blocked Dwight Howard early in the first quarter and then converted a layup plus the foul later in the frame.
-Landry Fields had a fantastic first quarter. He racked up 7 rebounds and made two mid-range jump shots. Those two shots gave him the confidence to attempt a three-pointer. If Landry wants to stay in the starting lineup, he has to shoot threes. As it stands, Jose Calderon is the only member of the starting lineup that takes and makes three-pointers. The defence collapses too quickly if Jose is the only person stretching the floor. In the third quarter, Fields make two nifty baseline cuts that resulted in dunks.
-When you consider the defence he played on Kobe Bryant, this was the best game we have seen from Landry Fields all season. Kobe couldn’t beat Fields off the dribble and every shot he took was contested.
-Alan Anderson is a crafty player and he fills the role of ‘team pest’ very well. Late in the second quarter, Anderson baited Dwight Howard into a physical altercation after a free throw, which resulted in double technicals. This was Howard’s second technical foul of the game, which meant he was subsequently ejected. Anderson has gotten into small spats numerous times this season and it often gives the Raptors an emotional boost. After never being ejected once in the first 8 years of his career, Howard has now been ejected twice in the last three weeks.
-Rough first half for DeMar DeRozan. In the first 24 minutes, he had 4 turnovers, 6 points and 0 rebounds. The biggest issue for DeMar, is that defences are keying on him because nobody else in the starting lineup is capable of creating their own shot. Help defence comes quickly to DeMar because the opposition is never worried about anything Fields, Gray, Davis or Calderon will do (with the exception of Jose jump shots). When the shot clock is winding down, DeMar is often stuck trying to bail out his team, which leads to very low percentage shots.
-Inserting Kyle Lowry and/or Alan Anderson into the starting lineup would alleviate some of that pressure from DeMar because both those players can create their own shot.
-Lowry made his presence felt in the 4th quarter with back-to-back three-pointers. The second one was a pull-up with about 21 seconds left on the shot clock. I don’t endorse this shot selection but there is something to be said for having the balls to take these shots.
-I don’t understand Dwane Casey’s fascination with randomly throwing the zone defence out there. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to when it is used and it helps the opposition get whatever matchup they want. Kobe Bryant was being blanketed by Landry Fields and then Toronto switched to zone and Kobe was able to get two straight possesions against DeMar – he promptly cashed two jump shots.
-Ed Davis had a quietly efficient afternoon. He finished with 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting to go with 8 rebounds. That might seem like a very average afternoon, but to put it in perspective, consider this: In 21 games this season, Andrea Bargnani finished with 18+ pts and 8+ rebounds just 3 times…
I’m up for a riot if you are… RT @timpchisholm: If Andrea Bargnani starts a single game in place of Ed Davis I swear to god
— Joseph Casciaro (@JosephCasciaro) January 20, 2013
-Jose Calderon was looking for his jump shot all afternoon and it paid huge dividends for the Raptors in the fourth quarter as he hit two clutch jump shots to keep the Lakers at bay. Jose HAS to be looking for his shot when he starts because (as I have mentioned several times) there are very few scorers in the starting lineup. Calderon had an excellent game and he helped the starting lineup out-produce the bench – which is a rarity for this team in recent weeks.
-Amir Johnson was very effective in limited minutes this afternoon – especially in the fourth quarter. He played perfect defence on Pau Gasol late in the fourth – not biting on several up-fakes and then stuffing Gasol in a crucial defensive stand. Amir finished with 9 Pts, 8 Reb & 3 Ast in just 22 minutes.
Raptors player of the game: Landry Fields – 18 Pts, 8-11 FG, 2-4 FT, 10 Reb, 4 Stl
Lakers player of the game: Pau Gasol – 25 Pts, 10-15 FG, 5-6 FT, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Blk
Toronto travels to Miami next for a date with the Heat on Wednesday. I actually expect Toronto to be competitive in this game. The Heat are playing very sloppy basketball of late and have been coasting through most of the regular season. Landry Fields, Alan Anderson and Terrence Ross should help the Raps contain Wade and James, while Toronto’s lack of size won’t be exposed by a Heat team that rebounds very poorly.