Final Score: Raptors Thrash Unwatchable Lakers, 108-103

USA TODAY Sports

Stinky team still stinks.

In cold numerical terms, a playoff berth remains within the Lakers' reach. The teams immediately ahead of them in the standings - the Rockets, Trail Blazers and Timberwolves - are all piling up losses like they're tanking for draft position, which has kept the Lakers just a few games back of that eighth seed we've pitifully come to regard as priceless treasure. But it's impossible to watch this Lakers squad and picture them playing beyond game 82. They're just terrible - a comically overrated glob of mediocrity that's done nothing but embezzle money from the Buss family coffers and degrade one of the foremost brands in professional sports.

Most of us knew better than to think their "good job, good effort" loss to the Miami Heat would translate into any kind of positive momentum, and our pessimism was well confirmed by the latest humiliation, a 103-108 loss this afternoon to the Toronto Raptors. The Lakers wasted no time putting their trademark indolence on display, falling behind 19 to 4 in the first seven minutes. I suppose one could blame the early tip (at 10:00 a.m. California time), but I do believe coffee is a legally available substance in Canada. After this catastrophic start they spent the next couple hours making the Raptors' lead variously bigger and smaller but, aside from a brief moment at the end of the second quarter when they sliced the lead to two, never convincingly appeared capable of winning the game. As usual, the final score masks the true extent of the beating the Lakers endured. Toronto led by 19 with less than eight minutes to play before a garbage-time run juked the final stats and helped preserve the Lake Show's ever-more-deceiving net point differential. They've now lost their last five road games, the first such streak since 2006.

The Raptors are a pretty good offensive team - not great, but pretty good - but of course they ran wild against the sorrowful Lakers' D. For the game they scored over 1.16 points per possession, well above their season average of 1.06. Jose Calderon, who finished with 22 points and 9 dimes (Principal Rooney voice: NINE DIMES), found open looks in midrange zones and in the paint all day long, both for himself and his co-Raptors. As a team the Raps made an unfathomable 63% of their two-point shots despite relying on a front line of Ed Davis, Aaron Gray and Amir Johnson. Except for the hard-working Earl Clark, who continues to play with a fire and focus lacking in his more lavishly compensated teammates, no Laker defended with anything like a professional effort. F's all around.

Not helping the situation was Dwight Howard's ejection from the game in the second quarter. He'd picked up an early technical for arguing a noncall and then got caught up in a double-tech situation with Alan Anderson late in the first half. (The refs should have let it go and did poor work pretty much throughout the game.) Dwight's absence moved Pau Gasol into the center position, where he found a really nice scoring groove (25 points on 10-for-15 shooting), but just killed the Lakers' already-bad interior defense and rebounding. The Raps managed only two second-chance points before Dwight got tossed but 10 afterward.

The Laker offense was productive only in fits and starts. Early on they couldn't hit anything (7 for 23 in the first quarter). In the second period Metta World Peace got going and the bench had a good little run to get the purp and gold back in the fight. In the third quarter Pau shot 4-for-5 but everyone else shot 3-for-17, which obviously didn't work at all. The offensive numbers in the fourth were overall quite good but by then the outcome was decided and the Raptors were thinking about getting home in time to watch some football.

Kobe Bryant had what can only be described as an awful day. In 43 minutes played he scored 26 points on 10-for-32 shooting while turning the rock over six times. The notion that the Lakers play badly when Kobe shoots a lot is put forward way more often than events actually justify, but in this case there was a clear correlation between Kobe dominating the attack and the Lakers' team-level production.

Kobe's MP

Kobe's FGAs

Kobe's Pts

Kobe's TOs

Lakers' Off Eff

Q1

12

8

2

1

83.3

Q2

7

2

2

2

138.1

Q3

12

10

9

2

87.5

Q4

12

12

13

1

132.0

Not much explanation required. He shot the ball poorly, so when he shot it a lot the Lakers' offense tended to struggle. He sort of got on track in the fourth quarter but even then he wasn't that great. Also, 43 minutes is way too many for him to be playing.

The purple and gold are now 17-23, just half a game ahead of Dallas and a game-and-a-half ahead of Sacramento. That's what it's come to: we're looking in our rearview mirror at the Sacramento Kings. This evening the Lakers fly to Chicago to face the Bulls on Monday. At least Dwight Howard will be rested.

Poss.

TO%

FTA/
FGA

FT%

3FGA/FGA

2PT%

3PT%

EFG

TS%

OReb Rate

DReb Rate

Off Eff

Lakers

94

12

0.24

86

0.31

44

33

46

53

31

73

109.6

Raps

93

14

0.20

59

0.24

63

30

58

59

28

69

116.1

Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.

For tickets to the next Lakers game check out our ticketing partner TiqIQ.

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