Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday afternoon contest at Toronto, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Howard
Raptors: J. Calderon, D. DeRozan, L. Fields, E. Davis, A. Gray
5:46 L.A. couldn’t have started this game much worse, seemingly still in their hotel beds as the Raptors ran out to a 15-4 lead. The ball wasn’t moving well on offense, even open shots were missing (2 of 9) and offensive boards allowed were giving Toronto easy chances. Antawn Jamison and Earl Clark had come in for Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace, only to see the Raptors hit two more jumpers to go up 15 points.
0:00 The visitors played a bit better to close the quarter, running the offense through Gasol on the low post as Howard rested, and getting Raptors bigs Aaron Gray (three fouls) and Amir Johnson (two) in quick foul trouble. Gray amassed two fouls on consecutive trips going for offensive boards, giving the Lakers four free throws to cut into the margin of 29-20 after one. Bryant started just 1 for 8, clanking a variety of jump shots, towards a 7 for 23 overall quarter.
3:00 With Bryant and Howard struggling to get on the same page, the Lakers slogged through much of the period despite cutting the lead to as few as six at one point, but stayed relatively close as World Peace hit a corner three to make it 48-39. The energy of Clark was one thing going well for L.A., as his eighth rebound was a put-back of MWP’s miss inside to give him nine boards. Five of those boards came on offense.
0:00 The Lakers could not have been much more upset at a call that got Howard ejected with his second technical foul. After a free throw, Howard and Alan Anderson briefly locked arms, both swinging their limbs but without malicious intent whatsoever, but a ref blew his whistle signaling a double tech. And so, Howard was gone with 1:18 to go, but in the meantime, the Lakers had trimmed Toronto’s lead to as few as two , with World Peace and Clark leading the way. Toronto did add a late bucket on yet another jump shot (Calderon) to take a 53-49 lead into the half.
5:30 With L.A. running the offense through Gasol on the low block, the Spaniard proved quite fruitful, reaching 17 points (10 in the first six minutes) on a variety of low post moves. The Raptors were scoring as well, however, taking a 70-63 lead on the seventh Calderon jump shot. Kobe, speaking of jumpers, was 0 for 11 from the perimeter.
0:00 Then the Raptors went through a layup line at L.A.’s rim, repeatedly scoring as the Lakers stood still, enough to build a 13-point lead heading into the final quarter. Landry Fields was doing a lot of damage with simple basket cuts, and had 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting, including five makes at the rim. Bryant continued to struggle, making only 5 of his 20 shots.
9:11 L.A. looked to have something building as Gasol scored twice more to reach 21 points on 8 of 12 shooting … but the Raptors had a quick answer. Kyle Lowry pulled up for consecutive three-pointers, producing a 91-76 lead, and putting the Lakers in danger of falling back to six games under .500.
2:43 Having fallen behind by as many as 19, the Lakers tried to make a final push, cutting the lead down to seven when Clark hit a corner three and Gasol dunked an alley-oop from Nash. However, Gasol and Nash couldn’t get their next respective shots to fall, and Toronto got a clutch jumper from Calderon, who’d hit a ton of ‘em (9 of 15 field goals, all on jumpers) to push it back to nine.
0:00 Kobe hit one more three, and Nash a few free throws to reach 16 points with nine assists, but L.A.’s effort was too little, too late (and Howard’s late first half ejection didn’t help). Bryant added another three to reach 26 points, but needed 32 shots to get there (nine makes with three free throws); Gasol scored 25 points on an efficient 10 of 15 field goals, and Clark had a 14-point, 14-rebound double-double. Calderon’s 22 points led the Raptors, with Fields and Davis adding 18 apiece for Toronto.
It was the fifth consecutive road loss for the Lakers on the first game of back-to-back games, with the Chicago Bulls coming up tomorrow night. We’ll see you there.