Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
In a season filled with lows the Lakers sunk to yet another depth previously unknown. Maybe it was the early start time in Toronto this morning that had the Lake Show lethargic out of the gate. Though Kobe Bryant and company would mount a charge late it was the early hole they dug against the Raptors that made this one an academic 108-103 defeat.
To be sure some highly questionable officiating left a stain on this game. Dwight Howard received two techs in the first half the second of which was a non-call at best. Before you could say “Superman” D12 was in the showers.
So if you blinked you missed Howard’s lone appearance in Canada this year. I’m sure David Stern will like that.
But let’s not even pretend as if Howard’s absence is the reason why this one was lost. A couple more head scratching whistles by the officials in the clutch might have stunted any hopes of a comeback victory for Mike D’Antoni’s team but in the end the Lakers have no one but themselves to blame.
Another defenseless effort turned Jose Calderon into the Spanish CP3. JC8 was unstoppable walking through the Lakers’ as if it were a practice drill. 22 points and 9 dimes from Calderon led the way for the Raptors.
Bryant, as usual, paced the Lake Show scoring 26. However Kobe’s efficient ways are getting lost the more desperate the situation gets for Los Angeles. Today it took KB24 32 shots to get his. He also accounted for nearly half of L.A.’s turnovers giving it up 6 times.
The good news, if there’s any, is that Pau Gasol made his way back into the starting five and stepped up in the absence of Howard scoring 25 but the Spaniard was a non-factor on defense and on the boards.
Now if you’re looking for something to hang your hat on it’s the continually improving play of Earl Clark. Today he slid into his new role as sixth man and the results were impressive. Clark earned 33 minutes of burn and made the most of it going for 14 and 14. He was also instrumental in helping to fuel the furious finish that ultimately came up short for the Lakers.
Let’s please not try and sell this one as another moral defeat. By the time the Lakers dialed up the intensity it was too late. Where was that effort in the first quarter when the game was ultimately decided?
At this point about all we can take pride in are individual moments of brilliance. The season is spinning down the drain and there is no reason to believe the light is going to go on anytime soon. You can blame the early start, for the Lakers today’s game was 10am on their body clocks. You can blame the officiating for being far too quick to show Howard the exit early while butchering some crucial calls late. You can spin this any way you want. Bottom line is the Lakers need wins and they have no formula to acquire them half way through a lost season.