The Toronto Raptors finally broke through with a win, after coughing up several healthy late-game leads recently. Another double-
digit spread was in jeopardy against the Los Angeles Lakers, who buried a flurry of 3-balls to make the issue close in Q4, but the home team had enough offense of their own to weather the storm.
The Raps broke out early to a big lead. With Q1 more than half over, the Raps had a 19-4 stranglehold, aided by frosty shooting from Kobe Bryant. The Lakers’ gunner couldn’t find the range, going 1/8 in the quarter. Jose Calderon, on the other hand, had 8 points and 3 assists. Dwight Howard, the Lakers’ monster centre, was nailed with a technical foul for chirping after not getting a foul called; his lack of restraint would soon cost his team dearly. Other Lakers began to make some shots, including Steve Nash with a 3, Earl Clark and Pau Gasol (who got the start), and the Raps’ lead was shaved to nine starting Q2. The Lakers chipped away, and were in the midst of an 8-0 run when Howard and Alan Anderson got tangled up with each other following some Metta World Peach free throws. The referees called technicals on both combatants (something must have been said, because the pushing and shoving was negligible) and Howard was banished from the game for his second T.
With Howard sidelined, the Raps enjoyed Q3, stretching a four point halftime lead to 13 lead by its conclusion. They piled up 30 points by getting contributions from all quarters, including Landry Fields, who didn’t have to attempt his woeful jumper to score. Instead he showed up below the basket to receive precise passes from Calderon and later from Anderson. As it turned out, the margin was necessary. The lead was 19 with 7:30 to play, but the Lakers hit 5 of their next 6 3-ball attempts, led by Kobe with 3. His last shaved the lead to six with 1:35, but Amir Johnson’s layup was just enough to keep the Lakers at bay. Calderon broke the press to dribble out the victory.
The Raps had no passengers on this flight. Anderson’s 14 points was healthy, as was his 8 assists. He displayed excellent court vision to find his mates in traffic. Calderon ended with 22 points and 9 assists, although with a disappointing 3 turnovers. Kyle Lowry hit consecutive 3s early in Q4 when the Lakers were making a run. Fields’ 18 points and 10 boards was pleasant enough, and he piled on 4 steals while harassing Kobe all game. Ed Davis also scored 18, but didn’t see the floor in Q4, which mystified me. He had 8 boards, so it wasn’t lack of rebounding.
Can the Raps start a new winning streak? We’ll find out when they travel to Miami on Wednesday night.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.