Coach Casey’s defensive-minded Raptors were seduced into a pretty Coach D’Antoni style of play and it cost them a winnable game at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday afternoon. The Lakers outscored the Raptors 112-106.
Toronto, who had held opponents below 90 points on average over the past 10 games, had the Lakers on their heels in the second and third quarters, but let leads of 19 points and 17 points slip away as the usually pace-conscious Raptors were quite literally tricked into having fun. Toronto hoisted an unconscionable 90 shots and forgot about their defensive identity.
“Our personality wasn’t into the game today,” Casey said. “We got caught up into the spread the floor, draw and kick shoot the three – shoot the quick three and we can’t win that way. We are not built that way. That is not our identity.
“We didn’t get defense in the game. That was the thing about the whole night. (We) played their game up and down. It was pretty, but we didn’t get defense in the game and that allowed those big runs and that is not who we are.”
What was happening to the Raptors was obvious from the opening tip. The Lakers want to play streetball and its fun. Almost immediately the Raptors fell into the trap and were seduced by the fast-flowing easy-scoring style that the Lakers like to play and have some personnel who are very good at it.
Nick Young, who has never seen a shot he didn’t like, went off for 29 points as the Raptors let their defense slide. The softer than usual defense also led to a lot of step-slow foul calls against the Raptors who put the Lakers on the free throw line 28 times. Casey making the unusual comment that his team took some ‘bonehead’ fouls.
Toronto out rebounded the Lakers 47-31, hit on 48.9 percent of their shots and only turned the ball over 13 times, but they are not going to win many games against any team in the NBA playing the style of game they were seduced into this afternoon. Casey knows his Raptors are not going to out-talent their opposition very often.
“We have to be a grind it out (team),” Casey said.
Props should go to the Raptors bench who scored 35 points, played some defense and were better than the opposition. Greivis Vasquez had 11 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists and was a +15 while he was on the court.
The Lakers road trip moves on to Chicago for Monday.
The Raptors face their arch nemesis – the Bobcats – in Charlotte on Monday.
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“Coach Clifford is big on defense,” Zeller said. “We won a lot of games just playing defense. We won a lot of games that haven’t been pretty, but they go down as wins still, so that has been big for us all year and hopefully we can keep that up.”