An only-in-L.A. moment also factored in the final decision moments earlier, when Toronto’s Jose Calderon went racing to the sidelines to save a loose ball with 1:48 to play. Before Calderon could get there to attempt an out-of-bounds save, the ball was tipped away by Lapo Elkann, the Fiat heir and international playboy watching from a courtside seat.
Elkann got a loud ovation when he was shown on the overhead scoreboard moments later.
That Turkoglu is at the point of having to salvage a much-hyped season is disappointing for Raptors fans, of course. Turkoglu’s improbable off-season acquisition was a joyous moment for a franchise whose depth chart could have been far shallower if not for some nifty navigation of the NBA’s salary-cap regulations. But after playing at a high level in a contract year for the NBA finalist Orlando Magic last season, Turkoglu has clearly slacked off for parts of this season. The team gave him time off for fatigue to open training camp. He since has been plagued by poor conditioning and nagging injuries.
And though his numbers aren’t abhorrent – he is slightly below his career averages in most major statistical categories – there is a sense he has under-delivered. He has blamed his role instead of adapting to it, publicly stated his wish to have the ball more often on a team that sometimes plays point guards Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon simultaneously.
But those arguments are old now. And a lot will be forgotten if, as the Raptors steer themselves into the final quarter of the regular season, Turkoglu finds his form. Still, it won’t be easy for him to ramp up his production. On Tuesday, as the Raptors prepared to open a four-game Western road swing against the Lakers, Turkoglu was still nursing the sprained left ankle that kept him out of Sunday’s loss to the 76ers, the latest in a lengthening list of weak spots.
Bosh scored 22 points in his second game back from a seven-game injury absence, and Andrea Bargnani had 21 as the Raptors opened a four-game road trip by struggling from the field in the final minutes of their sixth loss in seven games. Jarrett Jack added 18 points, but Toronto managed just four field goals in the final eight minutes.
“They’re the defending champs for a reason and everything,” Bosh said. “It’s always tough bouncing back (from injury), but I just wanted to get a feel, and I didn’t want to force anything.”
After Chris Bosh hit a 3-pointer with 9.5 seconds left to forge a tie, Bryant went to the right baseline and nailed a 17-foot fadeaway over Antoine Wright and Andrea Bargnani’s too-late trapping help. It was a more important winning shot, for sure, than the ones Bryant previously hit this season against Miami, Milwaukee, Sacramento, Dallas, Boston and Memphis.
With most of his teammates playing tight, Bynum seized the deep post-up opportunities he got from teammates who moved the ball very poorly early in the game. Bynum scored 11 of his 22 points in the third quarter to pull the Lakers back from a 58-50 halftime deficit. Lamar Odom also shook off a terrible start and finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Yeah, Andrew Bynum was big on the offensive end, but the Lakers frontline was again reverting back to its "soft-as-marshmallows" form by getting out-rebounded. Can someone explain to me how Amir Johnson, a Toronto forward generously listed as 6-9, and Jack, a short shooting guard, get more rebounds than Bynum?
I share Kobe Bryant’s words after the game: the win against Toronto was garbage.
With an Eastern Conference playoff berth in danger of slipping away, the Toronto Raptors are hoping Chris Bosh continues to recover quickly from his recent seven-game absence.
Perhaps facing the Sacramento Kings will help the All-Star forward return to form.
Bosh seeks his second excellent performance against the Kings this season Wednesday night, when the visiting Raptors try to bounce back from a demoralizing loss and avoid their seventh defeat in eight games.
The Raptors (32-30) had won 18 of 25 before Bosh sprained his left ankle. They went 3-4 in his absence, with the wins coming at the expense of three struggling clubs – New Jersey, Washington and New York. Toronto has also dropped both games since Bosh’s return, including a heartbreaking 109-107 defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night to open a four-game Western road trip.
Bosh hit a rare 3-pointer – his eighth of the season and second of the contest – to tie the game with 10 seconds remaining, but Lakers star Kobe Bryant answered, draining a game-winning 17-foot fallaway jumper with 1.9 seconds left.
"It’s always tough bouncing back (from injury), but I just wanted to get a feel, and I didn’t want to force anything," said Bosh, who finished with a team-best 22 points.
Kings update: This is the second and final time the Kings face the Raptors, and they’ll have to do a better job slowing Chris Bosh if they’re going to exact revenge. The Toronto star scored 36 points in the Kings’ 115-104 loss at Air Canada Centre on Feb. 7, with 12 of his points coming in the fourth quarter. It was the Raptors’ third consecutive win over the Kings and their sixth in a row in Toronto.
But, in order for Kobe to hit a game winner the game has to be close at the end and this is where things weren’t as positive. In an ugly 2nd quarter, the Raptors outscored the Lakers 34-21 as we could not convert on shots and couldn’t stop Toronto either. The Lakers struggled with Toronto’s various P&R sets and allowed the Raptors to get a lot of open shots. Shots that Toronto happily knocked down as Lakers defenders were either slow to rotate to the perimeter or caught in no man’s land confused as to whether they should recover to the paint or find a shooter. Granted, Toronto has the ability to put a shooter at every position on the floor and that leads to tremendous spacing that is difficult to cover, but there were still long stretches where defensive struggles were more the norm over strong execution and it was a problem against the Raps. What is most frustrating about the Lakers defense, though, is how they saved their worst defensive lapses for late in the game. When up by 4 with just under thirty seconds to play, the Lakers allowed a quick inbounds and layup to cut the lead to 2. Then, after Lamar made one of two FT’s, the Lakers didn’t effectively switch on defense on a high P&R that allowed Chris Bosh (who I already respected a great deal but gain more and more respect for as a PF every game) to shake loose and nail a game tying three pointer. It really was some poor defensive execution in those closing possessions.
Raptors coach Jay Triano called Bryant one of the game’s great players and wasn’t surprised that Phil Jackson called up a play to get the ball into Bryant’s hands.
“It’s no secret that he’s going to take the shot there and that they’re going to run the play for him,” Triano said. “We’ve all seen it happen.”
While Bryant was flattered by Triano’s comments, he was less-than-impressed with his team’s overall play. The Lakers needed Bryant’s bailout shot to avoid their first four-game losing streak in three years.
Did you see any positives tonight?
“None. This was… garbage,” he said.
Tonight’s selection from the Kobe Game-Winner Platinum Series took the form of a baseline fall-away over Antoine Wright with 1.9 seconds left. Yes, monsieur, that will do just fine! The shot put the Lakers up a deuce and, as the Raptors had no timeouts left, effectively sealed the win. What’s that, you say? Why did the Lakers need a dramatic end-game shot to snag a home victory from the Raptors? I… *fake static sounds*… I can’t hear you that well. *more fake static sounds* I think my phone’s going out….
- Admittedly the Raptors don’t have a true inside game but there was an awkward stretch where LA got the benefit of a number of calls.
- On Kobe – "That’s just him. That’s what he does regularly," said DeMar DeRozan. "It’s tough but at the same time, we’re not going to be the last team he does it against and surely not the first."
- "When Bosh stepped out and hit that three, everybody’s heart sunk a little bit," said Jackson, "but we were able to get the ball to a player where Kobe wanted to shoot it and he made the shot again."
- "We knew it was going to be an isolation," said Coach Jay Triano. "[Kobe] doesn’t like to have screen-rolls because it brings somebody else there. We ran at him anyway, he saw the trap coming – he escaped away from it and made a tough shot."
Turkoglu, who missed a game with a left ankle sprain, struggled in his return with six points on 2-for-7 shooting in 29 minutes. He also had four turnovers, one of which was a costly one to Derek Fisher in the final minute with his team down 104-102.
It was a parade to the charity stripe with both teams combining to shoot 74 free throws. The Lakers were 36-for-44 from the line, season highs in makes and attempts.
Los Angeles played little defense early. Toronto made 14-for-21 shots in the second period to outscore the Lakers 34-21. The Raptors built their eight-point halftime lead, 58-50, thanks to a 14-5 run in the final three minutes of the second quarter.
"Tough play, because it was a two-point game," Calderon said. "I was looking to pass to my teammate. I wasn’t looking, and I look back and the guy just hit the ball."
Elkann offered an apologetic shake of his hand to Calderon. Ron Artest came over, patted Elkann on the head, and told him "Good D."
Elkann truly was sorry he hurt the Raptors.
"Having two Italians [Andrea Bargnani and Marco Belinelli] on the team and being Italian, I wished for them to win," Elkann said. "I saw the ball coming on me, and I pushed it."
"I’m not an expert in basketball," he said, explaining his ignorance of the rules. "I know more about soccer than I do about basketball."
He pulled up his sleeve to reveal a tattoo of the Juventus Italian football club logo. But if he’s a soccer guy, he should know you’re not supposed to use your hands.
"You can’t," Elkann said. "The only one who’s allowed to use them is Maradona, in the World Cup."
Hedo Turkoglu’s recovering left ankle didn’t turn out to be a limiting factor because foul trouble did that for him. Turkoglu was on the bench with two fouls eight minutes into the game and had four and was back on the bench midway through the third quarter.
All of Turkoglu’s offence came from the three-point line with a pair of triples accounting for all six of his points. He also had four assists and four rebounds.
In his second visit to the Staples Center as an NBA player, Compton, Calif., native DeMar DeRozan made amends for a subpar visit the first time in against the Clippers. This time around, he managed 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting before his own foul trouble landed him on the bench prematurely.
On the other side, Andrea Bargnani started out the game looking like he would never find the basket. He was 0-for-5 before he found the mark and then went 6-for-7 from the field, including a pair of threes.
Bosh, who didn’t get to the line at all Sunday against the 76ers, went the whole first half without a visit but then got there in the first two minutes of the second half on a determined drive to the hoop with a pair of Lakers draped all over him.
Chris Bosh finally came around in the second half and started to look like an All-Star. He drove the lane, brought energy on the defensive end and was clutch down the stretch. He capped off a very strong fourth quarter with a huge 3-point shot to tie the game. The stage was set for an overtime thriller. That was until Kobe Bryant got the ball on the next possession. He saw Chris Bosh’s great shot and raised him a game winner. Kobe hit a shot under pressure from Antoine Wright and nailed it. It was a great shot, made by a great player. Plain and simple. Nothing you can do about that. Brush it off and come back tomorrow.
Just a quick comment on the refs. I never complain about bad calls or get on the bandwagon that claim that refs favour other teams, but I have never, EVER been so frustrated watching what were offensively bad calls, all in favour of the Lakers. At first, Gasol seemed to be getting foul calls the moment any Raptor made contact on defense, and then Turkoglu got several phantom calls. Then the second half, where I actually had to turn the channel out of frustration. The Lakers were getting EVERY call, and the Raptors weren’t getting similar ones on the other end. The “foul” that Kobe drew after he missed the layup was laughable. Well, it would have been if you were a Laker fan. Of course, the Raptor players took about 6 jumpshots in a row after that, so it’s pretty hard to get a makeup call when you do that, but it should never have been called in the first place.
- Triano shuts down Jack – again
- Rapcast #64: The Doctor Is In w/ Sactown blogger Zach Harper