There’s been a lot of talk regarding trades and Toronto Raptros players, Jose Calderon among them. The Spanish point guard has been part of a losing tradition for the franchise, making the postseason only twice in his career. A win over the Los Angeles Lakers is one of the bright spots for him this season.
Maybe Calderon will remain with the Raptors, but there’s a good chance he won’t. Things are still better without the big problem, Andre Bargnani. Calderon finished with 22 points and 9 assists on a 9-15 shooting night in what was probably his best game in over a month, ending a four game losing streak. In fact, January has been Calderon’s best month this season, averaging 13.2 points and 7.6 assists as his team went 4-6.
Now beating the Los Angeles Lakers isn’t all that these days – they’ve lost 8 of their last 10, but they are still one of the teams everyone gives an extra effort against, and seems a lot more pleased than usual when beating.
The Raptors particulary enjoyed Dwight Howard getting ejected for the second time this season. As Earl Clark said after the game, regarding trying to defend the rim without Howard: When he’s gone, it’s just a layup special.
The Raptors found their way into the paint easily enough even with Howard on the floor, as the Lakers, once again, looked tired, slow, and old. Toronto scored 52 points in the paint, finishing with 54.8% from the field compared with the Lakers’ 43.3%. The Raptors usually shoot 44.2% from the field, but against the Lakers, allowing so many easy lanes to the basket due to bad perimeter defending and simply no presence beneath the basket, almost every drive to the middle becomes and easy basket.
Not for the first time, the Lakers responded very late after falling behind by 19 (95-76) with 7:29 left in the game. They closed the game on a 27-13 run, as Kobe Bryant, like in the loss to the Miami Heat, started finding his way to the basket from long range. Bryant was only 3-12 from beyond the arc on the day. It wasn’t enough. Landry Fields with a big day (18 points, 10 rebounds), usually averaging 5 points and 5.5 rebounds, kept a distance from the Lakers.
The Toronto Raptors (15-26) won’t suddenly become playoff contenders with this 108-103 win against the Los Angeles Lakers, but they do have hope of proving to be a very tough team to beat at home, 11-9 in Toronto so far this season. The problem is very few teams will defend so poorly for so long, allowing the Raptors to get so many easy shots. There are only one Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA.