When is the last time you can remember the L.A Lakers have lost 4 in a row? The answer is February 13th 2007 and the Lakers would go on to lose 6 in a row. Lakers have recently lost 3 straight all to Eastern Conference teams with losing to Miami Charlotte and Orlando. Raptors have lost 5 of 6 with only win over the Knicks. It is a very tough way to start this week out West. But after this game with the Lakers the Raptors should have a chance to win all 3 of the other games on the trip. That being said I watched the Warriors fall to Hornets last night and if the Raptors guard the 3 point line anything like they have recently they could be in trouble in that one on Saturday. But you have to take it one game at a time so they say.
The Raptors on top of the impossible task of getting the Lakers to drop 4 straight also have to deal with the fact they already beat the Lakers this year. Which in case you were wondering the Raptors have never swept the Lakers in a season. Pretty much every stat we could dig up will point to the Raptors have no chance tonight. That being said when the Lakers rolled in to Toronto earlier in the season did we give the Raptors much chance then? I didn't being honest about it.
The Raptors have had some similarities to the team that won a division title. That team with no Chris Bosh went on a west coast trip and T.J Ford hit a game winner in L.A (vs Clippers not Lakers) then later in that same trip Andrea Bargnani made a dagger shot to sink Portland. I am not suggesting that history will repeat itself. But the Raptors could use a rallying type of trip like that. While many have already pressed the panic button I may join them if this team does not at least survive this trip with a 2-2 split. Once they do return home they face two teams that are those athletic type squads that tend to give the Raptors issues. The poster boys of that statement the Atlanta Hawks and the young and talented Oklahoma City Thunder.
So get set for a week of staying up late and watching the Raptors try to get back on track and not lose more ground in the playoff race. They must find a way to solve their defensive issues. This team has shown it can be capable of playing good defense. However they have also shown the lack of ability more. If this slide helps the Raptors get the message on that end of the floor it may be worth it in terms of getting this team ready for the playoffs. If it doesn't the playoffs are not a lock and that could be the most epic of disasters if when the music stops on April 14th the Raptors are in 9th. They would have a draft pick in the first round if that happened. However they also would likely be saying good bye to Chris Bosh.
If there is an X-factor for this game and this trip. How about Demar DeRozan. He has been in a funk but he is back home in L.A and maybe that is the tonic he needs to get on track. Seems he was fired up in practice yesterday according to reports from Twitter. Reggie Evans( who's interview with me was in the the DNB yesterday) says that Demar DeRozan posterized POB in practice. As someone tweeted to me if he can just do that to Lamar Odom or Ron Artest that is something to get excited about. Kobe Bryant in his visit to Toronto praised the work ethic of DeRozan and O.J Mayo when talking about the rookie to the Toronto media. He won't be praising him tonight safe to say.
So if you have no hope for the Raptors tonight it is hard to blame you. If you still want a reason to watch. How about Ron Artest's hair. He looks like Dennis Rodman 2010. It is bizarre. But then again so is Ron. Still despite all the odd things Ron Artest does it has not phased Phil Jackson and we have heard little trouble from Ron Artest this season. A lot of the credit for that should go to Jackson.
So it is a 10:30 tip. I suggest you take a nap if that is possible before this game. These west coast trips are not just hard on the team. They can be hard on fans too staying up late and hoping to not be disappointed for doing so. Tim Horton's should sponsor all Raptors West Coast road trips because there is no doubt win or lose fans that stay up and watch will need some coffee this week. I suggest Vanilla Cappuccino they are great. I discovered them up in Ottawa when I was covering training camp. That really doesn't seem that long ago but this season has flown by. The Raptors just hope their playoff chances don't fly away from them.