Bryant’s Barrage Leaves Toronto Buried

By Clinton Hosannah
Updated: February 6, 2008

TORONTO — What a night! One of the worst snowstorms to hit Toronto this season it brought a blizzard named Kobe Bryant to the Air Canada Center, along with the Los Angeles Lakers, to put a beat down on the Raptors.

Obviously they were not affected by the massive amounts of snow and the freezing temperatures. Bryant finished the night with 46 points and it looked like it was just too easy. The Dinos had no answer for Bryant.

Anthony Parker gave it his best shot, but covering Bryant is not the easiest assignment. He did have a good showing on offense though, finishing the night with 12 points.

The Lakers had something to prove, they just had a close loss to Detroit and they just heard news about the Pau Gasol mega-trade with Memphis, earlier in the day. They still trounced the Raps and served it up shaken, not stirred!

“We wanted to keep them from shooting threes or making threes but we didn’t do that great a job at it they’re awfully good at three point shooting,” said Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson.

“We call them the Eastern Phoenix team, they play that style of ball and I’m sure Colangelo has had an effect on that. But all in all we really say penetration, the inside game is what’s going to kill you, you may get 30 points on threes but those other seventy points are really going to hurt.”

Although the Raptors lost by twenty points, they did show a spark midway through the third quarter. At the beginning of the second half they were down by four. By the eighth minute mark they were down by 11.

At the 7:27 mark, Andrea Bargnani hit a 16-foot jumper that propelled the Raptors into a run that brought them to within four again. The Raps held on and finished the quarter six points behind the Lakers.

Maybe the Raptors had the All Star game on their minds. Many Toronto fans believe that Jose Calderon should have been named to the All Star reserves roster and Chris Bosh just heard, the day before that he was added to the All-Star team.

CB4 will join teammates, Jason Kapono who will be competing in the three-point shootout while Bargnani and Jomario Moon will be playing in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge, Moon will also be throwing it down in the Sprite Slam Dunk contest. All of this could have accounted for their lazy, lackluster playing in the second half.

Bosh showed more than 30 points in six different games throughout January, most recently scoring 37 against the Wizards last Wednesday. CB4 was held to just 22 points against the Lakers.

But the real stress came from the Raptors’ inefficiency in the paint. By the end of the first quarter the Lakers had out scored the Raps 18-4 under the rim. At games end, L.A. beat the Dinos by ten points on fast breaks. Even with Bynum out, the Raptors still did not penetrate.

The Lakers weren’t without their problems and were just as much to blame for the lack of excitement in the game. Besides a few slams by Kobe and two aggressive moves to the bucket from Bargnani, there wasn’t much to get amped over.

Surprisingly, 12-year vet, Derek Fisher did not get hot until the third quarter. He finished the night with 11 points on five of 14 shooting along with only two assists.

“In the first half I got some really good looks at the basket and rushed a couple of them”, said Fisher. “I was open; they were a little bit long. I had a little bit of a wrist, I guess not injury, but a little difficulty with feeling in my hand so at half time I was able to calm that down.”

“Every day is a work day if you don’t do work physically, mentally you have to prepare yourself.”

The Lakers are currently on a nine game road trip. The Raptors did have a six game winning streak at home until the Lakers came to town but they are set to re-focus and come with a more aggressive style in the games to come.

Bargnani seems to have regained his confidence and he looks like he is feeling his stroke again. He attacked the bucket more in this game and he was on like a dagger. He finished the night with 28 points. Being able to count on him for that contribution will be clutch in the up coming games.

“Anytime Andrea’s being aggressive, trying to get to the rim, he got a couple dunks tonight, he can always fall back on that jump shot, because he can shoot the ball well, when he’s being aggressive that kind of opens up his game and it opens it up for everybody else too,” said Chris Bosh.

“He’s unselfish with the ball too so he can really put us in some real drive and kick positions.”

In my opinion, the Raptors need to start penetrating more often. If the guys are not moving around to acquire a lane, they are hindering Calderon’s ability to find the open man.

This results in fewer shots from the charity line and in fewer offensive rebounds. Consequently they will not have many second chance attempts on their sojourn to the promised the land, the rim.

The Raptors usually play a lot better than this. Sometimes though, it is hit and miss. The organization is right on point with esthetics of the team and the production at home.

Toronto is known worldwide as a multicultural city, that trait is reflected in the team’s roster. It is also reflected in the chants that are inspired by the hype people in the ACC and in the choice of music played throughout the game.

Every time a three ball is dropped, the announcer shouts out, Uno! Dos! And the waits for the crowd to shout, Tres!