10 things: Raptors show fight but can't overcome huge deficit to Lakers
Here are 10 takeaways from the Toronto Raptors' 110-101 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
One - Nasty: That was a tough watch. We thank the Lakers for an extraordinary game without Anthony Davis and LeBron James, but the Raptors just had nothing. From the jump it was clear that the Raptors were struggling with the size of the Lakers and their struggle was not there to fill the gap. At least there was a bit of extra-curricular entertainment in the first quarter, but it's best to just forget about this game ever happened and focus on the rest of the week.
Two - Random: OG Anunoby was dumped in one of the strangest fights in NBA history. Anunoby was pulled down by Dennis Schroder, who tried to tie him up during the quick break, and the two remained tangled even after the piece died. Anunoby put his arm under Schroder's leg and in one effortless movement Anunoby turned Schroder over with the same care and ease as one would turn an egg without breaking the yolk. A crowd gathered and there was a lot of shoving, with Schroder trying to claw back while Anunoby offered a puzzled look as the umpires threw him out on review.
Three - Shorthanded: Anunoby's sputum only made it harder for the Raptors, who only had nine healthy bodies in play. The immediate impact was that Nick Nurse had to rely even deeper on his wing chord and none can be found between Yuta Watanabe and Stanley Johnson. The Raptors also desperately needed a playmaker to unlock the Lakers defenses, but Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet were sidelined. All that was left was a rock fight between the raptors, who only scored a goal out of their hectic pace and almost never through skill.
Four - Empty: This was one of Pascal Siakam's worst performances of the season, despite finishing with 27 points, largely in the garbage time. Some of this was just the matchup as the Lakers were the size to deny Siakam to get to the edge where he is most effective. Some of that is a lack of skill as Siakam continues to be caught in a seasonal shooting slump and his mistakes are so unpredictable that the defense and his own teammates ignore him when he's open. The most revealing part of his performance, however, was his lack of explosiveness, which is a core component of what makes him effective. Siakam has been pushed around by Wes Matthews and Markieff Morris and blocked by Marc Gasol and Kyle Kuzma, and it's evident that his conditioning is nowhere near where it needs to be.
Five - Concerns: It's one thing to fight back, it's another thing to bottom out. Siakam can get inside his own head at times if he missed a few shots and his decision-making gets out of hand. He was unpredictable defensively and it dragged the team as a whole down because you can't plan around gambling. Siakam's game hasn't gotten to the point where he can take over when he wants, but there has to be a way in which he can step back and still make a positive contribution in other areas. His heart is in the right place, but winning won't always come on its terms, and it is equally an honor to step back and sacrifice when things go his way, as it is to force the subject on until something breaks down.
Six - Effort: The best player for the Raptors was DeAndre 'Bembry, which is both an indictment against the team and a compliment to Bembry. He competed again for the top five, filing around the gaps at both ends wherever he could with heads-up games. Bembry is a very useful glue that's just a 3-point shot away from a rotation player on a playoff team, and the Raptors were smart about adding a second year to his contract. The entire bank has been a let down all season but Bembry is a goalkeeper. He makes smart games, which is why the coaching team is constantly changing roles because they are comfortable with their adaptability.
Nick Nurse and Pascal Siakam discuss what made Marc Gasol so special
Nick Nurse, Chris Boucher and Pascal Siakam praised the former Raptors Center for its basketball IQ, attitude and leadership skills after losing to the Lakers 110-101.
Seven Limits: This was a memorable performance by Gary Trent Jr. after his game winner's high. Trent Jr. was pushed into causing so much of the offensive for the team in the first half, and he struggled with the Lakers' physicality to create enough separation to fire clean looks. Shot creation isn't his primary skill, but there's a great opportunity for Trent Jr. to grow in this area, especially with the Raptors injured on the back seat. Trent Jr. has some good tools to work with between his midrange game and even a stepback three, but there is room for improvement in driving and finishing on the basket. Time is on his side as the youngest player on the team, which is easy to forget given that Trent Jr. is already playing his role as a veteran.
Eight - Bullied: Malachi Flynn couldn't sway the game the way it did in the Raptors' two wins against Washington and Golden State, and much of it was due to a lack of physicality. Alex Caruso was taller and more aggressive in his approach to defense, which made it difficult for Flynn to perform even simple games like dribble handoffs. Flynn is wiry and tough, but he has to find a way to increase his strength without compromising his speed, or opponents can throw him off his preferred spots. VanVleet had similar problems as a rookie but eventually grew into a very strong player who can use it to his advantage on both ends.
Nine - Shuffle: Nurse is never one to suffer defeat, so much so that he took advantage of his coach's challenge at the last minute and the Lakers were just trying to cut the time to a sure win. Nurse also pulled out his usual catalog of trick defenses, ranging from various zone coverage to squeezing the full seat, aggressively trapping ball handlers like an outsider in March Madness. Nurse said the most effective look is the 3-2 zone, which hasn't been used much by the Raptors this season. It was a spontaneous decision as Trent Jr., who played in the middle of the zone, had to be given new instructions during each time-out, but this was also the theme of the season.
Ten - Smart: Marc Gasol was clearly excited to play against his former team and 13 points to him feels like 30 points from everyone else. Gasoline brings so many intangibles that have been missed this season, and despite all the rumors that it is fading in the twilight of his career, his experience alone is invaluable. Little things like timing his auxiliary defense on the edge, the extra pass on top of the ground, the distance to the center, finding the right angle to the screen to give his teammate an edge, all of those things have been missing from the Raptors this season. The thought of Gasoline becoming the third center for a perfectly sane Lakers team is almost a cruel joke as it would without question start for the Raptors.
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Raptors Reaction: Gary Trent Jr. hits the buzzer as Shaptanded Raptors complete their 19-point comeback
Host William Lou sums up the Toronto Raptors' 103-101 win over the Washington Wizards. Three Stars: Gary Trent Jr., Malachi Flynn, DeAndre 'Bembry - Gerald Henderson Award: Garrison Mathews
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