The Lakers got off to a blazing 2-0 lead on a Steve Nash lay-up, but that was it – they never led again.
The Lakers fell behind by 16 early, but climbed back to within two points in the third quarter. Then they somehow found a way to fall behind by 19 in the fourth quarter, before ultimately losing by five.
Was this the Lakers’ worst game of the season? I don’t know – there have been a lot of good candidates, and I don’t have the stomach to re-watch any of them. So l will just conclude that this game was one of the worst.
The story of the game was Dwight Howard’s ejection with 1:18 remaining in the first half.
Dwight had picked up an early technical for commenting (not arguing) on a no-call against him. Later, a double-technical was called when he and Alan Anderson locked arms under the basket. Because it was Dwight’s second technical, he was automatically ejected.
I suspect that second technical will be overturned by the league, but that doesn’t mean they’ll replay the game with Howard protecting the rim in the second half.
Pau Gasol became the focal point under the offensive basket in the second half, and scored a very efficient 18 points on 8 of 11 shooting (25 points on 10 of 15 shooting for the game).
However, both Gasol and Howard rebounded poorly, combining for only seven rebounds in 50 combined minutes. It was actually Earl Clark leading the Lakers on the boards tonight with 14 rebounds. Earl Clark has hops in a way that Pau and Dwight – for whatever reason – do not.
Steve Nash played pretty well tonight, scoring 16 points on 5 of 11 shooting and dishing out nine assists against only three turnovers, one of which was an end-of-half Hail Mary pass that didn’t work out. Nash also shot 4 of 4 from the line, and has now hit all 24 of his free throw attempts this year.
The Lakers suffered through another game of poor Kobe Bryant shooting, as he shot just 10 of 32 (31%). That percentage only becomes a problem when you combine it with the fact that Kobe took 32 of the Lakers 88 field goal attempts (36%).
Kobe’s teammates combined to shoot 28 of 56 (50%) on the remaining 64% of Lakers’ field goal attempts.
The Lakers, now 17-23, could not afford to lose to the now 15-26 Toronto Raptors. And yet they did.
While the Lakers of course can still make the play-offs and then make a run, what was dispiriting about this game is that it made clear the Lakers are not yet getting better.
Lakers’ Player of the Game
Tonight’s player of the game was Earl Clark, who grabbed 14 rebounds when no other Laker was able to grab more than five. Clark also added 14 points (on 6 of 10 shooting), two assists, a steal, and a block.
Further, on a night when no other Laker finished with a positive plus-minus, Earl Clark finished with a +14 in 35 minutes of play.
What that means is that the Lakers were outscored by 19 points in the 13 minutes that Clark watched from the bench.
Tonight’s Top Two Tweets in my Twitter Feed
“The Lakers didn’t lose because @DwightHoward got ejected. But man, was that a bad call. Ken Mauer isn’t going to like how it looks on replay.” – @RamonaShelburne, post-game tweet
“’We’ve got a lot of issues,’ Mike D’Antoni said.” – @Mike_Bresnahan, post-game tweet
Monday, January 21 at the Chicago Bulls, 6:30 p.m. PST