Lakers 105, Raptors 106: Running Diary

59393758We took a look at the Lakers – Raptors contest in Toronto while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked to win their second straight road game.

Lakers: D.J. Mbenga
Raptors: Marcus Banks

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Raptors: Jarrett Jack, DeMar DeRozan, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani

Canadian Home Court Edge
The Raptors have been one of the league’s best home teams this season, particularly of late. In fact, they had won 8-of-9 games at Air Canada Centre heading into Sunday’s game, including five straight against Western Conference teams (Dallas, San Antonio, New Orleans, Houston and Minnesota). We should recognize the vigor of the home crowd, which is very festive (much like a European soccer crown, minus the extra curriculars).

59393751First Quarter
5:07 Pau Gasol capped a very aggressive personal open to the first with a nasty one-handed dunk in transition off the feed of Derek Fisher to make it 14-5 Lakers. The Spaniard would close the quarter with a game-high 10 points in the period on 5-of-9 shooting. Unrelated: did you know that Subways in Canada don’t have spinach or olive oil? I found out the hard way.

2:07 Ron Artest struggled to find his range throughout the quarter, missing all five of his attempts from various spots around the perimeter. Perhaps this is because Celine Dion, of whom he’s a big fan, was not here to sing “Oh Canada”? Just a guess.

0:02.9 It took a while, but the Raptors finally started to hit some shots near the quarter’s close after opening just 2-of-10, getting a Chris Bosh hoop and a end-of-shot-clock Marco Belinelli three-pointer to keep Toronto within three (24-21) at the quarter’s close. By the way, the Canada Dry ginger ale in the media room tastes quite good, not surprisingly.

Second Quarter
8:51 Jordan Farmar, who had made at least one three-pointer in five straight games, nailed another thanks to Bryant’s penetration. Farmar’s shooting around 43 percent in January, and has been fairly consistent. In related news, he’s been spending considerable time at the gym at night shooting with his personal trainer.

3:31 Sticking to the ol’ game plan in the second, the Lakers repeatedly pounded the ball inside to Bynum, who responded with 13 points in the quarter as the Raptors were left literally without an answer. Bynum had three separate and-1′s, all helping the Lakers to a 48-41 lead when Odom took his place.

0:01.9 Kobe nailed three jumpers all in the final minute of the quarter to put a dent in Toronto’s first hot stretch of the game that had produced 14 points since a 48-40 Lakers lead. His final J gave the Lakers a two-point edge heading into the half. Bryant closed the half with 14 points, eight boards and five assists, and was on triple-double watch (he had 16 in his career coming into the game).

59393754Third Quarter
9:45 The Lakers brought some California heat to the start of the third quarter, getting consecutive buckets from Gasol and Bynum before Bryant atoned for his missed dunk with a corner three. That capped a 7-0 run to start the third, creating a nine-point cushion.

4:32 L.A.’s lead briefly reached 10 when Fisher canned a corner three, but the Raptors responded with a 6-0 run to cut the margin to 73-69 and force a Phil time out. Jarrett Jack was key in the run, scoring twice at the rim and feeding Bosh for a baseline jumper. Random note: I learned that Canada native Kiefer Sutherland’s grandpa is a famous/important politician from our cab driver to the arena.

0:08.9 DeMar DeRozan’s baseline jumper capped a quick 4-0 run to close the third for Toronto, cutting L.A.’s lead to two points – as it was at halftime – heading into the final quarter. Bryant was within only two assists of his triple-double with 21 points, 12 boards and eight assists, not to mention an explosive baseline dunk and big swat of Bargnani.

Fourth Quarter
8:25 Speaking of Bargnani … the Italian and former No. 1 overall pick nailed his third field goal in the opening minutes of the quarter to tie the score at 88. He was one of five Raptors in double figures at that point (Bosh, DeRozan, Jack and Belinelli), as the Lakers gave Bryant a rest in favor of Shannon Brown.

7:13 Just moments after failing to see Luke Walton’s alley-oop pass, Farmar atoned with his third three-pointer of the game. It also answered Bargnani’s three at the other end, a rainbow that had given Toronto its first lead of the game at 93-90, sending the crowd – which easily ranks in the NBA’s top five – into a relative frenzy. Fast forward to the 3:23 mark, when Farmar got a tough runner to go (17 pts) at the end of the shot clock to put the Lakers up 103-100 in a terrific up-and-down final quarter.

0:01.2 A crazy final few minutes as Bryant put the Lakers up 105-101 with a shot over Turkoglu, but he missed his next two jumpers – including a fade away with a second left on the shot clock – to give the Raptors a chance to go ahead with 11.4 seconds left in a 105-104 game. As it turned out, Turkoglu managed to draw a foul heading to the bucket with just 1.2 seconds to go as the ref whistled a push in the back (Gasol’s hand was on his back, but the Turkish forward appeared to be out of control and set to dive towards the hoop). Alas, he made both foul shots, and Bryant’s desperation three-pointer from 38 feet rimmed out to give the Raptors a dramatic come-from-behind victory.

Before L.A. plays the Wizards on Tuesday, they’ll go visit with President Obama at the White House on Monday … and before that, your numbers:

1 Assist shy of a triple-double for Kobe Bryant, who scored a game-high 27 points on 11-of-24 shooting.

3 Players scoring at least 20 points, with Bryant’s 27, Pau Gasol’s 22 and Andrew Bynum’s 21. Both Bynum and Gasol grabbed nine rebounds as well.

12 L.A.’s edge on the glass, 51-39.

15 More free throw attempts for the Raptors (26) than the Lakers (9).

16 Career high regular season rebounding total for Bryant. Both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum added nine rebounds for the Lakers.

17 Points off the bench for Jordan Farmar in 22 minutes on 7-of-11 shooting, plus four rebounds and all of the crunch time minutes at point guard.