The Toronto Raptors saw their six-game home winning streak snapped this afternoon as the Los Angeles Lakers snatched a victory away from the Dinos via a 112 to 106 win. Nick Young led the Lakers with 29 points off the bench, including many late-game daggers that put things away for good. Toronto now turns around and heads to Charlotte for a Martin Luther King day date with the Bobcats.
To say this was a tough loss would be putting it mildly. After a slow start, Toronto turned on the gas late in the first quarter and finished the Q with a 36 to 29 lead. The Lakers would score only two more points for the next five minutes and the Raps would take what looked like an insurmountable 50 to 31 advantage.
However the Raps took their collective feet off the pedal, began settling for long-range shots, and suddenly the lead was only four at the half.
The third quarter showed more promise though as again, Toronto jumped out to a big lead. The club led 70 to 54 halfway through the quarter and once more, it looked like the Lake Show was done, and the Raps would roll to an easy win.
But the same issues that were so prevalent late in the first half returned and the Lakers not only closed to within a possession, but eventually took the lead 82 to 81 by the quarter's close.
And the fourth quarter wasn't much better. Toronto kept things close thanks to some gritty bench play by Greivis Vasquez, Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson but other than Kyle Lowry, the rest of Toronto's starting crew was nearly invisible down the stretch. Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan struggled in particular, both taking ill-advised jump shots and fouling unnecessarily. To compound things, DeRozan stopped passing the ball, and his frustration boiled over resulting in a late technical that put the final nail in a coffin that was almost closed on Toronto as it was.
He finished with 23 points, but it took him 24 shots to get those points and he got to the line only four times all afternoon.
This isn't all on DeMar of course, as the entire Toronto squad forgot about the charity stripe, shooting only 11 free-throws to 30 three-pointers. The Lakers took 22 long-range bombs themselves but also got to the line 28 times.
This was a major factor in the loss as while the Raps kept chucking them up from downtown, the Lakers used a more measured approach and got a nice two-man, high-low post game from Pau Gasol (22 points, 9 rebounds) and Ryan Kelly (17 points, 5 rebounds.)
As noted Kyle Lowry had another very solid game and tried to will his club to victory to no avail. He finished with 21 points and 9 assists.