Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Lakers

I hate that I love you, Kobe.

The Raptors blew yet another double-digit fourth quarter lead, Kobe Bryant killed the Raptors for the umpteenth time in his career, Dwane Casey mismanaged his rotation and Rudy Gay threw up brick after brick after brick, as Toronto fell to the Lakers in overtime. The Raptors still haven’t beaten the Lakers on the road since 2001, they fall to 2-14 all-time against the Lakers at Staples Center and they have yet to win a season series with the Lakers…like, ever.

Here are some thoughts on a game that exemplified the Raptors’ 2012-13 season in one completely predictable fourth quarter meltdown…

Lakers 118, Raptors 116 (OT)

- DeMar DeRozan may have been 2 for his last 6, but he was also 12-of-18 on the night and was enjoying one of the performances of his young career. Kyle Lowry scored 15 points on only eight field goal attempts. You know how many shots DeRozan took in the final three minutes of overtime? None. Know how many shots Lowry took in all of overtime? None. Instead, the Raptors repeatedly went to Rudy Gay and Alan Anderson when they needed a bucket, and while Anderson actually hit some big shots down the stretch, Gay was absolutely abysmal with the Raps stubbornly settling for hero-ball.

Gay went a combined 0-of-4 in the final minute of overtime and the final minute of the fourth quarter, which inexplicably included a three-point attempt despite the fact that he had only hit two threes in the game and is a sub-30 per cent long range shooter this season. Even worse, Gay didn’t get to the free throw line once in that time and only took two free throw attempts all night, despite the fact that he took 26 shots, seven of which came from behind the arc. He made just seven of those 26 shots and turned the ball over six times.

Look, part of the blame is on DeRozan, who needs to learn how to get feisty with his teammates and demand the ball when he’s having a game like this. Part of the blame falls on Lowry, who probably could have gone into attack mode with a horrible defender in Steve Nash guarding him. Part of the blame goes to Dwane Casey, since a lot of those late fourth quarter and overtime possessions looked like they were drawn up for Gay despite the fact that he was struggling mightily. But the majority of the blame has to fall on Gay himself. How do you get the ball in your hands so many times down the stretch without success before even thinking about moving it or looking for one of your other, hotter teammates? It’s not just that he missed a boat load of shots when it mattered, it’s that he didn’t even look like he was thinking for a second about doing anything else with the ball despite the fact that it clearly wasn’t his night.

- As for a part of the game where Casey has to shoulder a ton of blame, the Raptors’ coach proved once again that he seems incapable of managing a rotation in a tight game, and that continues to be both concerning and insanely frustrating. Nowhere is this lack of rotation management more evident than in Casey’s handling of Jonas Valanciunas. On this night, Valanciunas was giving Dwight freaking Howard all he could handle inside and had posted 12 points, six rebounds and a block in less than 17 minutes of action mostly matched up with the most physically imposing big man in the game today.

How was the rookie rewarded for his monster effort? Well after being pulled from the floor with 7:03 remaining in the third quarter and four personal fouls, he didn’t see the floor again…at all. That’s right, one of the three best Raptors on the floor in this game didn’t play a single second in the final 24:03 of a tight ball game. Instead, coach Casey went with Aaron Gray for parts of the fourth quarter and then used Gray again for the final 2:20 of overtime when Amir Johnson fouled out. This isn’t even about playing Valanciunas because he’s the “future” or because he needs “development time.” He was the vastly superior option to Gray on both ends of the floor and Casey instead decided to roll with a guy who left the team with an offensive handicap in overtime simply because of some preconceived old school notion about needing an “experienced” player over a rookie big man in crunch time.

And for what it’s worth, it was Gray who found himself absolutely lost and caused the initial breakdown on the defensive possession in overtime that resulted in Kobe Bryant’s uncontested dunk, which just about sealed it for the Lakers. How fitting.

- Speaking of Bryant, while I spent a ton of words on the Raptors’ embarrassing mismanagement down the stretch, I can’t write this post without giving a living legend his due. Kobe scored 41 points on 11-of-22 shooting, which included 15 points in the fourth quarter and a couple of late three-pointers with defenders draped all over him and no place to go. Call him Bean, call him the Black Mamba, call him the ultimate Raptor Killer, call him “Vino” if that’s what he really wants. He’s not Michael, he’s not LeBron, but he’s still Kobe damn Bryant, and we’ll likely never see another like him again.

I mean, Jesus Christ, Kobe. This death stare will haunt Raptors fans in their dreams for as long as we all shall live…

GIF courtesy of Mocksession.com

- By the way, after the game, Casey said that the Raptors were instructed to foul Bryant before he could get off the game-tying three-pointer on the Lakers’ last possession of regulation, while Amir Johnson said he tried to, but just missed his chance.

- While you wouldn’t know it based on the boxscore, Alan Anderson and Landry Fields actually played about as good of defence as you can play on Bryant. Fields probably disrupted him more and played a huge part in stopping Kobe in Toronto back in January, so I would have preferred if he had got the defensive assignment late in the game, but I also can’t complain with the way Anderson played Kobe. He made him work for pretty much everything, and with a Hall Of Fame scorer of that caliber, that’s really all you can do.

- Landry Fields‘ contract will always cast a shadow over what he does on the floor and his shot still looks wonky as he works to literally rebuild it, but if you’re a basketball junkie who appreciates solid, smart fundamental basketball and things like perfect off-ball movement, Fields really can be a treat to watch outside of looking for individual offensive production. I maintain that Landry can be an important piece for this team moving forward, despite the price tag.

- The Raptors were able to jump on the Lakers quickly and build an early lead, much like they did in that aforementioned January meeting, because they pushed the tempo and basically went full throttle, daring the older Lakers to try and keep up. Unfortunately in the second half, the game was slowed down to LA’s benefit, and I couldn’t really understand why the Raps didn’t try to push the tempo again. The Lakers may play at a faster pace than the Raptors on average, but it was clear to see that they weren’t comfortable playing as fast as the Raps wanted to in the first half.

By the way, the 37 points scored in the first quarter on Friday night were the most points scored in a quarter all season by the Raptors.

- Sebastian Telfair’s big night on Wednesday came against his former team – and a weak team at that – and John Lucas III scored 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting in this game, but I maintain that Casey should have elected to go back to Telfair as his backup point guard over Lucas. It was painfully obvious yet again that the second unit needed more ball movement, and JL3 sure as hell isn’t bringing that to the table. It was also frustrating to watch Kyle Lowry sit for more than half of the fourth quarter despite having another solid all around night. Casey’s poor rotation management goes far beyond just not playing certain guys that he should play or sitting guys that he should sit, as he also seems to have a problem mastering how long to leave certain guys on the floor in games like this and how long to leave some of his key players on the bench.

- Overshadowed by the frantic finish was the fact that Andrea Bargnani re-injured his right elbow in the first quarter and did not return, although this time it’s being called a strain while the last time Bargnani actually tore a ligament in the elbow. No one should be rooting for anyone to get hurt, but the fact that a Bargnani injury is such an afterthought nowadays tells you just how little importance fans view his presence with.

- After almost an hour of writing and 1400 words later, I still can’t get over the fact that the Raptors were oh-so-close to winning a season series with the Lakers for the first time in franchise history and that damn close to their first win over the Lakers in L.A. in 11 seasons. Once again, this team has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

UGH.

Raptors Player Of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 28 Pts, 12/18 FG, 4/4 FT, 5 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl in 44:00

Lakers Player Of the Game: Kobe Bryant – 41 Pts, 11/22 FG, 5/10 3Pt, 14/16 FT, 6 Reb, 12 Ast, 2 Stl, 9 TO in 43:47 (The nine turnovers obviously jump off the page, as Kobe was sloppy with the ball at times and the Raptors’ defence was as good as I’ve seen against him, but are you really going to hold that against him tonight? Didn’t think so.)

 

Comments (34)

  1. The only thing worse than the frustrating loss is the unavoidable tidal wave of Kobe slurping from every direction. Thanks, Joseph, apparently the reality that this Kobe guy is good needs to be constantly pointed out by everyone.

    I’m not sure how much more I can take of this $100 million superteam roster being portrayed as these resilient underdogs as they struggle to beat bad team after bad team in one of the weakest Western Conferences in years. It makes me physically ill, to be honest with you.

    If you told me BC and Casey would be back next year if I could have this win, I’d honestly have to think long and hard about it.

    • I will never refer to this Lakers team as “resilient underdogs,” because they’re actually one of the most under-achieving regular season teams in NBA history. As for the Kobe comments, I’m actually usually labeled a “Kobe hater” because I’ll point out his inefficient games or point to the fact that he and the Lakers would have been better off playing through their frontcourt last season, but in this case, I just didn’t think there was any way I could point to everything the Raptors did wrong down the stretch without also giving Bryant his due for simply being that much better on his own.

      • maybe to temper the Kobe praise just a touch – and he was BRILLIANT on the offensive end – was that DeMar largely put up his own numbers by going right at Kobe or posting him up. if DeMar’s progression is the net benefit of the Gay trade, i can’t say i mind.

  2. Ross DNP? Disgrace.

  3. I can’t get upset about Kobe Bryant having a Kobe Bryant game. He was defended well for the most part and earned those points.

    But it seemed pretty clear to me what lineups were winning for the Raptors, and yet Casey seemed determined not to play them, especially in the 4th quarter.

    Also, Gay really needs to reinvent himself as a power forward. Something to get him away from the perimeter. He’s just not a good distance shooter. He brings so much to the game, especially on defense, but he’s not Kobe/Jordan/LeBron on offense and really needs to stop trying to play like them.

    • I’m with you on your Rudy thoughts. I don’t think it necessarily has to even be as a power forward, but he does need to reinvent himself on offence and take advantage of the ridiculous mismatch he should be on both ends of the floor.

      • I’ll agree with you there. Rudy was chucking all night. He really needs to check himself. He may be the highest paid player on this team and will be for two more years, but he certainly isn’t the best. He seems to have all of the physical tools, but not enough basketball smarts to truly help his team to win.

        He needs to be more unselfish, like Kyle.

        DeMar needs to be more selfish.

        If BC doesn’t fire Casey during this season, MLSE should just get rid of both BC and DC. It is incredible how these two mismanage this team.

        Lucas is your best shooter of late, well, at least in the conversation with DD and Kyle, but he sure as hell isn’t a point guard. He is just an undersized SG. Use him in this role Casey!

        As for Ross getting no playing time, I’m hating that. We need to develop our young talent. There is no way in hell that JV shouldn’t have been back in the game in the 4th quarter.

        Casey, YOU SUCK!

        BC, YOU SUCK!

        Ref who called the first 3 second defensive violation against the Raptors, YOU SUCK! We didn’t even have a player in the key for a single full second, let alone 3 of them. Such Bullshit. Well, I hope they got paid well for making the Lakers (fakers this season) win.

  4. 100 % agree with the JL3 comments. Was so frustrating watching him out there for so long. His role should be to buy Lowry some time to get a break and that’s it. I agree Telfair would be a better option for that, but Casey loves off his JL3. Irony was the half time interview they had of JL3 talking about ball movement when he orchastrated almost none of that in the game.

    Landry Fields is an under-rated bench player. Like it says above, he does so many important things that don’t show up on a box score.

    Amir Johnson busted his ass out there again today. The box score won’t reflect how imporant he was when JV got into foul trouble.

    I’m actually not that upset that the Raptors lost tonight. Kobe was simply amazing…there’s not much you can do when he goes off like that. Yea, the Raptors should have won, but it still was an entertaining game to watch.

    What i’ve learned this season is the Raptors are good enough to compete with any team, and the Raptors will find a way to turn a win into a loss. It happens when you’re a young team with some questionable coaching decisions.

    JV is gonna be a beast as he improves. He’s only 20 yrs old and can hold his own against some of the best seasoned bigmen in the NBA. A jewel of a pick at number 5.

    • Total agreement about Amir. I can never say enough good things about him. I was shocked he only had a couple of rebounds; even when Amir doesn’t snag a lot of rebounds, he still is quite a presence in the paint, affecting the game in plenty of other ways.

  5. ….But for a Laker fan, that game was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G !

    Even Nash hit some clutch shots down the stretch. But frankly the Lakers championship is making the playoffs.

  6. Playoffs!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    BUMS!

  7. DC needs to be fired!!! hes a shit coach!!! Kevin O.Neil type shit!!!!!!were going nowhere fast with this joke at the helm!!! Rudy Gay is fuckin garbage too, 19mill per season for a guy who plays 1-2 good games a month… BC is a complete homer for thinking this team was going anywere!!!!!!!

    • Rudy Gay Is worth the money, yea he struggled bad but the confidence he brings and skill and all the help he draws which opens up derozan. you cant turn on him that quick, wait and see after he has all summer to get settled in with his team and work together. Im a huge raptors fan and i understand that this year they have put us thru hell but we need to understand that for the first time in a long time we have some real excitement for out team next year!!

      • I agree completely On FIRINg NO BRAIN DWAYNE Casey!!!! I t hink we need some answers because by the end of the third we had an alright lead and rudy gay JV lowry were all sitting on the bench for a while. On the other side Kobe and lakers starters were playing heavy mins in third so when the 4th starts do we see jv rudy or lowry or even derozan in to take our lead and run with it………..nope we let them catch up before we see rudy gay…but no derozan , lowry or even JV…horrible coaching!!!!!!!!!!

      • DOBOJ, the problem is that when everyone collapses on Rudy, he still insists on taking and missing the shot, instead of swinging it around to the wide open DeMar. If we had a real coach, that behavior would have been checked already.

        Sadly, we do not have one. MLSE, please trade Casey back to Dallas for Rick Carlyle. Good lord, even Triano was better at rotations than this.

      • Are you kidding me? Check his stats. It tells you everything. There’s a reason why memphis traded him.

  8. Your “star” player everybody, shooting an incredible 7-26!

    Lock this guy up long term!

    • Oh yeah, the rumor about Rudy being locked up to an extension this summer sure had better be false. If he can improve his shot selection, and do what is necessary to help this team win NEXT SEASON, then you might consider it after next season. No way in hell you do that this summer.

      Read Grantland BC. Don’t be a tool!

  9. Okay… I was not into the fire-the-coah-Casey- club this season until last night!

    When I saw Amir getting fouled out, I said : Ok! now it’s time to see JV, he was excellent all game long” But no, who do we see getting on the floor ?!? Aaron Gray!! This guy, as good as he can be to grab defensive Rebound, he cant do anything on the offensive side! So the Raps going 4 vs 5 in offense. wow… what a great coaching move in a close game like this..
    I was like ” ok, I guess I missed the fact that JV got fouled out” not even! he had 4 fouls!! Comon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He could had scored 18 pts, grab 12 rebounds in 28 min of played time if Casey would had let him!! I cant believe that!

    Derozan and Lowry had the hotter hands! Casey is the one ordering who to take the final shots! didnt he watch the game while coaching?? Gay was shooting huge bricks all night long!! Even I, just a puny little PS3 gamer in NBA 2k13 knows when I shouldnt shoot in My Player because I’m 5 in 20 and should pass the ball!! Isnt Casey a professional coach in the great NBA league??? Doesnt he has professionnal assistant coachs??
    Isnt Gay a profesionnal player knowing he had trouble all night long and should pass the ball to DD to close that winning game??

    All this is beyond me… They deserves not being in the playoff this season.

    Now this morning I just say : Fire Casey during summer time and hire an experianced coach once and for all.

    Every other teams who has a great rookie plays them! Except of course Casey’s team………………………………………………..

    But yeah, Kobe was having one of his great night of the season. This guy is a legend. I’m not a fan, but I can see this guy is one of the best of his sport all time compared. We all said im sure when he got suddenly hotter, ” oh damn, we are in trouble” And we were!

  10. Fire everyone this team is a joke

    • Even though it will never happen, I’d love an overhaul of the entire organization. Management, coaching, players… everyone. Keep Valanciunas and maybe Lowry and let one of the janitors keep their job as well. But only one.

  11. playing Aaron Gray instead of JV after Amir got fouled out was astonishing..like many of you said,we were 4 against 5 on offense so the passer would only have three targets to pass to on offense.Gay was poor yesterday lots of good look but not able to drained them but good effort from raptors overall

  12. Rudy is just frustrating to watch. There are possessions when he has the ball when I can even predict exactly what he will do. So many forced shots, so many times he drives into traffic and throws up a ridiculous or easily blockable shot.

    On one hand I do somewhat blame Casey because I can’t remember one play that was ran that freed him off of a cut or for an open jumpshot. Instead all I remember are a bunch of useless off-ball screens that pretty much end up with him going one-on-one. I really hope that talk about extending him this summer is not true. I do think he needs time to adjust, and I do think by next season he’ll be a bit more efficient, but the guy clearly lacks the basketball IQ, or at least chooses not to use it. For example on the last play (in the 4th I’m pretty sure) he had Amir wide open under the basket. Now perhaps the pass would’ve been difficult from his angle but I don’t think he even contemplated passing it once, he was too concerned about being the hero…which kind of sums up his mentality 90% of the time when he has the ball anywhere after the first half.

  13. it’s tough to side against Casey sometimes cause hes got the team playing hard but god damn.

    JV was playing out of his skin, and was promptly benched. guys like anderson, gay… are great to have on the defensive end but it wouldn’t hurt at all to hold them accountable for being shitty chuckers on offense. but no one seems to be doing that.

    positives: awesome game, derozan keeps getting better (and smarter!), JV is the anti-Bargs (in every way, even on the bench), lowry played big. Would have been nice to win but if it’s another nail in Colangelo’s coffin that works too.

    And Joseph I disagree with you on JLIII. I like him as a back up PG despite his, well lack of ability to play PG hahah. But you can’t argue with that shot!

  14. Pretty embarrassing to watch a clip of Kobe’s game winning dunk and watching Aaron Gray switching with Alan Anderson on the screen and roll. Having those two guys on the floor in crunch time is a quick road to Nowheresville. Fire Casey(no brainer); he’s not a head coach and he’s crippled the young guys development all year. They better do something before guys start quitting on him. BC has one more year to take this creation somewhere. I like his respect around the league but raptor fans know that he hasn’t had a plan and stuck to it since he got here.

  15. I watched the whole game (I’m a Wizards fan), and tbh I don’t watch the Raptors often but JL3 being on the floor instead of Telfair along with Gray over JV was definitely something I was scratching my head over. Boozey’s depressing comment regarding Dwane Casey echoes my thoughts on Randy Whitman down here in D.C.

    Gay throwing up brick after brick in the 4th wouldn’t be something I’d be sad about though, they were good shots and he created space well which is the most you can ask for in those game-time situations. They just didn’t fall (although I did feel bad for u guys when he bricked the wide open 3 that would have made it a 2 possession game in OT). I was a bit surprised DeRozan didn’t get the ball for the final shot in either the 4th or OT…the man was hungry all night.

    On a more positive note, the non-stop plowing of Jody Meeks in the 4th was hilarious.

  16. Why can’t Casey learn to go with players who have a hot hand? Is he afraid of pissing off Rudy or what? Put JL 3 in at crunch time;at least he can shoot.

    You take JV out for 4 fouls and then bench him? wtf

    Bring back Sam Mitchell!!!

  17. I try to stay positive with my favorite team in all perspectives but last night was a giant clusterfuck of wtf’s.

    I can’t understand Casey.

    DeRozan not touching the ball in the end was infuriating but only one time could you see a slight expression of that on him. He needs to show that and voice it. There’s no reason for him not getting the ball and Anderson or Gay getting it instead when Demar clearly had it going.

    Ross didn’t even play? When you want to push the pace but you don’t let one of you’re quicker guys play. A lineup of Lowry, DeRozan, Ross, Gay and JV would have been exhausting for the lakers to keep up with (yes undersized on D, but play your advantage). And then after, when your guys need a break, throw in Anderson for D (not to take stupid shot after stupid shot).

    I could go on, but most has been said by others…

  18. You guys are still spending your Friday nights watching this team?

    As long as these amateur scrubs like Lucas and Gray are getting mins over JV and Telfair (with Anderson being the #2 option on offence), I refuse to invest any more time watching. I’ll read the recap from time to time to see what happens but for your own sanity, I suggest we all find something else to do!

    • The Raptors’ problems go well beyond playing Gray over Valanciunas (I wouldn’t say Telfair is really an upgrade over Lucas). When your 3 leading scorers are inefficient, high volume shooters who get most of their shots from the 16-23 foot range, 4 out of your 5 starters are inconsistent defenders, at best, and your two primary ball handlers are poor decision makers who can make just as many head-scratching plays in crunch time as spectacular plays.

      This is a flawed team from the players, to the coach all the way to the man in charge.

  19. Rudy Gay is frustrating to watch. How could he take that 3 very late in the 4th with the Raptors ahead and wanting to use the clock? Instead he gives the ball right back to the Lakers after his miss is rebounded and the Lakers score. His moves around the basket are sometimes magical, but his shot is really inconsistent and I would like to see him shelve his 3 until he spends a summer working on it.
    Why was J.V. not put back into the game?? I know he’s a rookie, but he played hard against Dwight Howard, and he should have been in the game after Amir fouled out and for all of overtime.
    Finally, how tough is it to foul someone before they go into the act of shooting? How could the Raptors allow Kobe that final, game tying 3?
    It was an exciting game to watch, but incredibly frustrating in the final quarter to see them snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  20. And joe said we should trade demar at one point now he all of a sudden is jock riding him the score should trade you in for someone better

  21. I’m done with the Raptors for the season. Just can’t handle these mind numbing decisions anymore. DeRozan gets shut out of the offence, JV rots on the bench…Anderson and Gay chuck shuts up all night long. Nearly pulled my hair out watching this game. I love how Lucas talks about ball movement, and Rudy spews this bullshit about how (paraphrasing here) “If Demar has it going, he’ll get the ball, if I have it going, it’ll be me”…cuz that’s exactly what happened. Casey’s shown he is not a head coach in this league. He seems like a good motivator, and he clearly has some defensive knowledge, but MY GOD rotations and offence are laughable. Like a previous commenter said, for your own sanity, find something else to do when the Raps are playing.

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