The Toronto Raptors scratched and clawed to get a win over the Lakers at the ACC. Last night at Staples Center they did the same, the only difference is this time Kobe didn't miss. A late turnover by Hedo Turkoglu would force Raptors to need a 3 to tie. Chris Bosh in his second game back would step up to plate and nail a 3 to tie the game at 107. Unfortunately there was still 9.5 seconds left and that was more than enough time for Kobe Bryant to undress Antonie Wright and make a shot that few could make look so easy. Raptors would only be left with just over a second and no time outs. They would not have anything left in their bag of tricks.
There were a lot of calls that were questionable at best. A fan even interfered with a ball heading out of bounds. I personally hate going to the idea of the refs being a reason a team losing. I think a team can always over come it whatever it is. For example last night if Hedo doesn't make that turnover and if Jay Triano put Jarrett Jack and Bosh back in the game sooner the Raptors still could win. Ironically I watched the Bucks vs Celtics game prior to this game and made note of Bucks announcers constant moaning over calls. I thought to myself I am glad our announcers do not do a lot of that. So when Jack Armstrong is complaining about calls and makes a major point about it, I take notice. I feel that in comparison to around the league Toronto fans get a more balanced view on both Radio with Paul and Eric and T.V with ether Jack and Matt or Matt and Leo.
There was some bright spots for the Raptors in the loss. Demar DeRozan in his second trip back to L.A had one of his best games in awhile. DeRozan had 11 points and was 4 for 6 from the field. He did get himself into foul trouble with 4 fouls. However Demar was better and let's hope he can care all that hometown love and that performance with him for the rest of the trip. In fact the Raptors as a whole need to carry over the performance to tonight vs the Kings. Raptors have lost 7 of 8 and now sit a game and a half behind the Bucks for 5th.
Jay Triano in attempt to respond to his teams lack of performance on defense has been mixing in zone defense more and more. Sometimes with success and sometimes not. As Jack Armstrong said to me once the zone can be effective for The Raptors but it can only work for so long. Changing looks and trying to confuse the opposition can help somewhat. However the Raptors also have to bring the effort to go a long with it.
The Raptors still have never swept the Lakers in a season but they came very close last night. The Raptors have shown the ability to be good basketball teams. They are a good team but they need to work hard to be that good team. When we are this deep into a season the topic of effort really should not be a topic of conversation. The effort the Raptors showed last night must become the rule and not the exception regardless of who they line-up against.
Taking away the bias we all have as people that cheer for this team to do well. That game last night was the reason we all love basketball. There was excitement and clutch shots and everything that makes basketball the most exciting sport there is for me. The Raptors will look to rebound from a heartbreaking 109-107 loss as they take on the front runner for Rookie of the Year Evans and the Kings.