Dwight Howard Ejected, Lakers Suffer Embarrassing Loss in Canada

NBA: Miami Heat at Los Angeles LakersThe Lakers had an early morning matchup with the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. It was a 10:00 AM (Los Angeles time) start up in the land of the maple leaf, so the Lakers would have to overcome the fatigue that may present itself with this unusual start time. After falling to the Miami Heat on Thursday night, the Lakers were looking to get back on track and win their third game in their last four games.

Pau Gasol was back in the starting lineup for Los Angeles after spending his first game back as a bench player. He wasn’t very happy about the prospect of coming off the bench long term, and D’Antoni reinserted him to the first unit on Sunday.

Let’s get to the action.

First Quarter

Things didn’t start well for the Lakers. They scored the first basket of the game but fell apart quickly after. The Raptors went on an 11-0 run, forcing an early timeout from Mike D’Antoni. The team wasn’t moving the ball, they weren’t rotating on defense, and they weren’t doing anything that resembled successful defense.

The lone bright spot for the Lakers in the first quarter was Earl Clark. He seemed to be the only guy on the team that had some energy. He created several scoring opportunities for the team, and was the only player who didn’t appear to be sleepwalking through the first 12 minutes of basketball. Still, despite a horrid start the Lakers picked things up a bit with a 13-4 run to close the quarter.


Second Quarter

After closing the first on a positive note, the Lakers were hoping to build on that momentum in the second period. But they couldn’t get stops, and the Raptors hit some difficult shots. In fact, things were so frustrating at one point that injured Laker Jordan Hill displayed his frustration via Twitter.

The Lakers once again did a decent job of closing out the quarter. They pulled it back within 10 with several minutes left in the half, but had trouble establishing more momentum due to poor defense. Toronto was consistently getting open looks, and for the most part made the Lakers pay.

Things got tricky for the Lakers late in the second when Dwight Howard was ejected from the game after receiving his second technical foul. It was a controversial call at best, but the Lakers suddenly found themselves without their best big man for the second half of the game. At the half, Toronto led the Lakers 53-49.


Third Quarter

The Lakers took the court without their center to start the third, but it became an interesting opportunity for Pau Gasol. After wanting more touches in the post, Gasol suddenly found himself as the go-to center for the rest of the game. And he took advantage. Pau scored 10 quick points in the third, leading the team offensively in the period.

Unfortunately, it was Kobe Bryant who couldn’t get things going for the Lakers. After struggling in the first three quarters against Miami on Thursday, Bryant was ice cold on Sunday, too. He went 0-8 in the first three quarters from perimeter jump shots, even though he had some good looks.

Things began to fall apart as the quarter progressed. In fact, the defense got so bad that I don’t even want to explain how bad it is. Instead I’ll just post one of my tweets because I’m a self-promoter like that.

At the end of the third the Lakers trailed the Raptors 83-70, and entered the fourth knowing they would need some kind of a miracle to leave Toronto with a victory.


Fourth Quarter

Trailing by 13 entering the final period the Lakers needed to put together some kind of run to get back into the game. An early turnover and technical on Kobe Bryant didn’t help their chances. Instead it was beginning to look like so many other games have looked this year.

By the end the team had just given up. There was no defensive rotation and no evidence that the team wanted to win. It was a layup drill on defense, as Toronto marched to the rim on every possession. It became another embarrassing afternoon for the Lakers, as the team that everyone thought was destined for greatness continues to wallow in the NBA’s basement.

The Lakers did what they always do – make it close in the fourth. So many times this season they have pulled back into the game late, seemingly giving themselves a chance to win. But they always come up short.

Finally things came to a merciful end, and the Lakers left Canada with more than their tails between their legs, but their heads in the basket underneath the guillotine. The fourth quarter flourish fell short, as it always seems to do this season, and the Raptors finished off the Lakers 108-103.

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