Do the Raptors Even Have a Play that isn’t Just Telling Rudy to Shoot (Also, Raptors Collapse Late, Lose to Lakers)

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March 8, 2013 by slewfeet

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Pictured: Probably one of Rudy’s higher-probability shot attempts.

We open our evening with Matt Devlin and Jack Armstrong shooting irrelevant stats back and forth, while a particularly shiny Sherman Hamilton tries to get a word in edgewise. Notably, they’re wearing four rings between the three of them as Armstrong apparently has two wives. In the studio, Rod Black looks like a small, furry Yoda while Leo Rautins is sporting an incredibly orange tan. Who in the world can even stand watching this?

A final pre-game thought: Even years after he’s changed his name, seeing Metta World Peace in the starting lineup graphic is still hilarious.

Dwight Howard opens the scoring with an easy layup, quickly followed by scores from DeMar DeRozan, World Peace, Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry. It seems like this is going to be one of those stat-padding games, so it’s a good thing Landry Fields is going to be stapled to the bench most of the night.

The Raptors miss several shots in a row, and the Lakers heft the ball over to some douchebag cherrypicker #24 in gold. Shots are still falling like rain for both teams though – especially for DeRozan, who has mastered the shot from exactly one step inside the three-point line but is still afraid to try from downtown.

For some reason, TSN names Sebastian Telfair as being Primed to Perform. He responds with a stinkface worthy of Alan Anderson, but the Raptors continue they can succeed without him, with a Gay steal off Kobe Bryant, followed up by a three-pointer. Even the bench is getting in on the fun, and DeRozan walks in for an emphatic layup with 0.6 seconds left to cap a 37-25 quarter. I think I speak for everyone when I say hello, inevitable 4th-quarter chokejob!

John Lucas III comes in flying, much to the chagrin of the many schoolchildren chanting DE-FENSE, and beats Steve Blake like a rented mule. Bronasdome commentary reaches the consensus that Blake resembles a less malformed Franck Ribery.

Aaron Gray comes in looking extremely grizzled, and so does Telfair to form a very strange lineup of two mediocre point guards who spend far more time dribbling than they ought to. In the meantime, TSN has run out of statistical anecdotes entirely and has elected to just recycle them in the hopes that nobody is watching this game for more than ten minutes at a time.

Most of this quarter was spent eating pizza rather than watching the game, but the Lakers made a run late to cut their deficit to 59-53 for anybody who’s still interested. Bargnani was injured at some point, but the halftime show was even more unbearable than usual due to Leo Rautins’ orange face so I don’t know how.

Dwight Howard has really massive shoulders, like wow.

DeRozan and Nash exchange shots to open the scoring, and Jonas Valanciunas will get some big body presence at both ends of the court to open things up. Steve Nash is inexplicably left open for three, but Lowry takes it right back. Unfortunately Nash doesn’t give a fuck and makes another, but Jonas gets a strong dunk off a great pass from Fields.

There’s Fields again, sneaking in undetected and getting the dunk from a Lowry assist. Maybe there was a reason he was signed apart from that desperate courting of Nash after all.

Nash makes a hard pass into Howard’s face, and the ball flies several metres into the air. Nash laughs about it afterwards, right to his face. Talk about bad locker room chemistry.

Suddenly, a comedy of errors – Gay turns it over to Kobe off a defensive rebound, and then still can’t drive as he loses the ball and hurts himself, lying in the offensive zone while the Lakers score an easy 5-on-4 basket. The Raptors keep up the pressure though, and end the quarter up 89-79 on a tough shot from DeRozan, who’s now 10-12, and a failed attempt at a buzzer beater from Jodie Meeks. Fields grabs the rebound, shoots at his own net from behind the line, misses badly, and walks away pretending nothing happened like the unbelievably cool guy he is.

Kobe, Howard and Nash are starting to take over with pure talent against the likes of scrubs like Gray and Anderson. But John Lucas III, the most talented player on the floor, backs up the defense far enough to make a smooth jumper. Next shift, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event: an Aaron Gray jumper, which goes in and out and gives the room a fit of near-ecstasy and then crushing disappointment.

Lucas tries defending Kobe with jazz hands, until Anderson takes matters into his own hands and fouls him. A glance at the statline says Kobe has a whopping 8 turnovers somehow, despite being defended by losers like these guys.

Suddenly, an amazing play develops and Gray makes one, two, three, four dribbles in a row – almost certainly a career best. It’s a momentous occasion for the veteran, and inspires Lowry to shoot a three and Kobe to flop his way into a momentum swing.

Both offenses are still rolling, but the Lakers are closing in on Kobe’s shoulders as he makes shot after shot – and with four seconds remaining, Kobe pulls up and sinks a three to even things up 109-109. Rudy gets the last opportunity, but can’t sink it before the horn. I get to tell everyone I told them so, everyone else tells me to shut up. We’re headed to overtime.

Gay is shooting an abysmal 7 for 22, by the way. Apparently, that’s still no reason not to try and run the offense exclusively through him. Howard makes a free throw, but DeRozan makes two after Amir makes a monster block on Kobe. Some clever passing lets Anderson sneak in for an easy dunk, but a dramatic fall from Kobe earns him another two free throws. It’s 113-112 and still incredibly close into overtime, which is a refreshing change from the Raptors’ usual 49th minute collapse.

Meeks is incredibly useless, missing defensive assignments and shots alike. How is this chump getting these huge overtime minutes? In the meantime, fellow chump Alan Anderson posts up Kobe and shoots over Howard’s extended hand. NBA teams really need to pick their chumps more wisely.

Suddenly, Nash rolls in for an amazing off-balance three to tie the game, and then Gay misses yet another shot. Next shift, Gray idiotically charges out to double-team Kobe, who just runs right around him to score easily. It should be noted that Gray’s intrepidness also blocked Anderson off from defending him, making it a doubly terrible play. With ten seconds left, it’s 117-115 Lakers.

Alan Anderson gets the inbound, walks around World Peace, and draws a foul from Howard. He hits the first, but the second’s awry and the Lakers grab the rebound. Nash somehow misses his first shot, and suddenly the Raptors have hope as long as they aren’t putting it on Gay’s shoulders.

Gay gets to inbound, thank every deity ever, and passes to Fields, who fucking passes back to Gay fuck and he misses goddamn and the Raptors end with yet another ugly, well-deserved loss and Dwane Casey is an absolute tool for enabling him like that.

Game Goat: Sometimes, your best player is your best player – Kobe Bryant racked up 41 points and 12 assists and carried his team to overtime when they desperately needed a hero. But sometimes, your best player is Rudy Gay, who missed several key shots, severely overestimated his ability to shoot from downtown, made 6 turnovers, and shot an ungodly awful 7 for 26. Gray made a garbage play when it counted as well, but it’d not like we expected any better from him. The Raptors were counting on Gay tonight and his response was thoroughly underwhelming.

Game Toad: Valanciunas had yet another excellent game, showing off some strong offensive instincts and rebounding well in 16:32 before retiring to the bench for good – even after Amir fouled out. Sometimes it gets ridiculous how little the Raptors are willing to play their rookies, considering the season has been lost for a while now and the likes of Telfair and Gray will continue to be entirely worthless in the team’s future. Though in fairness to Dwane Casey, maybe it’s best that JV’s scrappy facial hair gets as little exposure on national television as possible.

Game Bench: Anderson played very well in the second half, making some big shots and not trying to go beyond his capabilities for a change, and Lowry was quietly effective all game. But DeMar DeRozan was a scoring machine over the first half, taking tough shots from everywhere and nailing nearly every one, with no recorded turnovers to boot. He was easily the Raptors’ most effective player overall, even after Gay took over the game and started fumbling it away.

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