Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour: next up, Raptors


The Toronto Raptors have lost three straight home contests and are now 0-2 on their 6 game home-stand. Luckily the Los Angeles Lakers have come to town, with their woeful 3-17 record. Future Hall of Fame inductee Kobe Bryant will make his last trip north of the border in a Lakers uniform (it is likely he will be voted to his last all-star game, if he chooses to play will be up to him). He is listed as day-to-day with the flu but has made a promise.

After Kyle Lowry played front-runner MVP Stephen Curry toe-to-toe on Saturday afternoon, the Raptors still didn’t have what it took to be the first team to close them out. All because of, you guessed it, the horrid first quarter which is haunting each fan in each game.

Will Dwane Casey change the line-up? Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, and DeMarre Carroll are a lock so long they are healthy. The obvious choice is to switch out Luis Scola for Patrick Patterson. Unfortunately the onus is on the first three mentioned, but a shake up will always give different results. But then there’s this.


3 keys to victory

Attack early and often

The Raptors let the Lakers hang around in their first meeting at the Staples Center until half time. They then pulled away for a 102-91 victory. The real test is if this team can come out and handle a way lesser foe right out the gates. This team forces a lot of possessions in the early goings, it looks like they kind of just put up shots in hopes they will make them, before actually initiating their offence for the rest of the game. Please, enough.

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Handle the young guns

I love the young players the Lakers have brought in so far. Julius Randle is a stud and is showing amazing flashes of potential. Mixed in with a surprising Jordan Clarkson who can get his buckets, and a flashy point guard in D’Angelo Russell, these guys can put up some offence if given the opportunity. This can’t be a defensive slack-off game, take nothing for granted and handle your business.

Enjoy, but limit Kobe’s momentum

The crowd will (and should) cheer for Bryant’s last game in Toronto. Being a Raptor killer in his career was great to watch, but don’t let it continue in his last contest. We have all heard about his horrible percentages but after putting up 31 points against the Washington Wizards, anything is possible.

Nov 20, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (front) and Los Angeles Lakers guard D Angelo Russell (back) battle for the loose ball during the first quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Key players of the game

LAL: D’Angelo Russell; the 19 year old rookie is trending upwards as the season progresses, and recently had his first double-double. Watch for his eye-popping passes and shooting skills to potentially shine.

TOR: Lucas Nogueira; love this guy’s game so far this season. I wrote about his potential in the preseason and he is making great use of his time in the rotation. He has earned Casey’s trust in the fourth quarter, something that took Jonas Valanciunas 3 years to gain.

Next: Raptors change at power forward?


Everyone will cheer Kobe Bryant to a 6-22 shooting appearance and we will call it ‘Kobe’s flu game.’