Outrebounded 49-31, beaten in points in the paint and simply shown up by a struggling (though talented and young) Toronto Raptors team, and maybe it was a good thing. Of their perfect 6-0 record, the Lakers simply outscored their opponents, but did very little to keep their opponents from scoring. Their offense, frankly, is gold, especially when they’re moving the ball and running their offense. Their defense, however, is no more than suspect at this point and they’d be wise to start figuring out that part of their game…and soon.
After falling behind by four points early in the first quarter, the Lakers quickly found their rhythm. Derek Fisher (11 points on 4-7, four steals) stole the ball from Andrea Bargnani and beat Jarrett Jack to the hoop for a layup. Kobe Bryant (23 points, six assists) ran full-court and sent a Showtime pass over his right shoulder to a running Pau Gasol (30 points, seven rebounds) who tossed it in the hoop for two. Steve Blake (14 points, 4-6 from three), hit three after three and suddenly the lead was 20-33 after the first quarter. Unfortunately, there were still 36 minutes left to play. Toronto knew that, but the home team, after 12 minutes of game time, appeared to check out.
The Raptors came out of the second quarter gate at full throttle, their bench leading the way to 38 points in the final 12 minutes of the half. The Lakers? They were barely awake to witness their 13 point lead turn into a deficit when Leandro Barbosa hit a last second three to end the second quarter.
The second half was not much different from the first. The lanes that led to Toronto’s basket remained as open as the 405 freeway at 3 am, resulting in layup after layup. The suffocating defense that earned the Lakers their Championship trophy have been amiss this early regular season, and tonight was the most glaring evidence of it all.