Everyone, including yours truly, felt the lethargy of the 10am West Coast start to the Sunday contest. It was 3:30am in Seoul, but besting the snooze button in a game of 1-on-1 felt easier than the Lakers unnecessarily Herculean task of taking down the Raptors. A 19-4 deficit to open the game told the story of how the day would progress. Basketball is a game of runs, and the Lakers didn’t run away from the challenge, responding with a 11-4 run of their own to end the 1st down 29-20. But, Toronto, led by Jose Calderon, possibly auditioning for the part of back up to Steve Nash in the various trade scenarios involving Showtime2, would not relinquish the lead, opening up their lead to 44-30 in the 2nd. The Lakers woke up and exploded with a 14-4 run of their own to get within 4, but then something really strange happened.
Dwight got thrown out of the game on consecutive technicals.
A quick whistle and a quick hook for Dwight changed the complexion of the game. The Lakers steadily climbed back into the game. Although the lane opened up for Pau, offering him the chance to justify his assertive claim on the starting forward spot. He scored 25 on 10-15 from the field. Nash contributed 16 points and 9 assists. Clark filled the rebounding void with 14, including 6 o’boards, and 14 points. The rest of the Lakers stepped up, but they definitely lost some steam.
The roof fell in as Toronto stretched their lead back out to 13, 83-70, to end the 3rd. Kobe followed a tough night against the Heat with a worse day, but turned it on in the 4th again. Visions of 81 flashed before the eyes of the Air Canada Center, and Lakers fans wished he could at least replicate one of the quarters from his legendary performance. Unfortunately, missed layups and back to back three pointers from Kyle Lowry seemed to break the Lakers’ back and bury them in a 19-point hole.
Then, Nash hit a 3. Kobe hit two more. Clark dunked and then drained a three. Pau took a lob from Nash and the Lakers were within 7 with 3:15 to go. Could they seriously comeback from down 19. The Raptors gave up the exact same lead to the 76ers the on Friday in an OT loss. After 26 points on 10-32 shooting from Kobe and a team field goal percentage of 20% at one point in the game, drawing the ire of a grouchy Big Game James in the studio, overtime would be a gift from the heavens. But, Calderon capped off his 22-point, 9 assist performance with a jumper and some FTs to keep the Lakers at bay.
The Lakers seriously, unequivocally, and absolutely dropped the ball on this one. This is one of the games the Lakers had to have simply because the Raptors are by no means better. The Lakers must beat the lower tier teams if they want to have a shot at reaching the 8th seed, let alone a favorable position in the playoffs. At this rate, the Lakers can expect a first round match up with the Thunder or the Clippers, which could end in the most devastating tragedy. Superlatives about the playoffs already? The Lakers have time, but the clock is ticking, the alarm is ringing, yet they seem content on continuing to press the snooze button.