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Tag:Los Angeles Lakers
Posted on: November 14, 2010 10:20 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2010 10:22 pm
 

How do the Heat stack up with the contenders?

Comparing the best teams in the league, the Heat don't stack up so far.
Posted by Matt Moore


As we look at the teams around the NBA who genuinely look like contenders to match up with the Heat, we find most of them are those we expected. The Magic, the Celtics, and naturally, the Lakers. But two newcomers have to be considered: the Hornets and Spurs. We've already broken down for you where the Heat are strong and lacking in and of themselves through ten games. Here's a look at the performances of these contenders in relation to the Heat. All stats available from HoopData and reflect games prior to Sunday, November 14th. Category leaders are in bold.



Category Lakers Celtics Magic Hornets Spurs Heat
Win % 0.889 0.800 0.667 1.00 0.875 0.600
Off Eff 112.5 104.6 102.9 105.4 106.8 108.5
Def Eff 101.8 98.1 95.6 95.1 102.7 96.8
eFG% 51.33 51.67 51.75 51.39 52.67 51.33
TOR 12.03 14.29 15.88 13.28 15.09 13.09
Signature win Suns Heat (2x) Hawks Heat Suns Magic

Obviously that last category is subjective, i just took what seemed like the best win from what has been on their schedule. So two of those teams' signature wins are against the Heat. Not a great resume the Heat have building up, considering the Magic, the Heat's signature win, has the second lowest winning percentage of the group and their signature win is against the Hawks.

Getting past the numbers, the Lakers have looked every bit the best team in the league through the first three weeks of the season, while Boston looks very much like the second best. The Hornets' undefeated streak can't be ignored there, and as they are the only two teams with multiple category leads, hard to argue against them. Also interesting to note that the Heat do not lead in any categories.

Quite simply, when you stack the Heat up against their competition? They don't stack up at all so far.

Posted on: November 12, 2010 11:07 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:41 pm
 

Game Changer 11.12.10: Unblemished no more

The Lakers finally lose, the Celtics down the Heat in front of a bunch of stars, Paul Pierce talks trash to LeBron James on Twitter and Chris Bosh is in some non-lofty company when it comes to his rebounding numbers. Posted by Ben Golliver

Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer. 

THE BIG ONE: LAKERS GO DOWN:

By Royce Young.

Sometimes, when the Nuggets are really clicking, that offense is absolutely terrifying. Not in a "Oh wow, they're really good!" way. Like a lock-the-doors-and-take-cover way.
Heading in to the fourth quarter Thursday, Denver trailed the Lakers by eight and at one point, were 14 down. But the Nuggs started the fourth on a 16-0 run then later added another 11-0 spurt to essentially put the Lakers away.

But that offense wouldn't have done the Nuggets any good without the stops. For instance, Denver scored 35 points in the second quarter. However, they allowed L.A. 38. And coming off a game where the Nuggets allowed Indiana 54 points in a quarter, defense had to become a priority in order to knock off the unbeaten champs.

Denver held the Lakers to 19 points in the fourth mainly by forcing Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol into a combined 3-11 from the field. Bryant was just 2-8 and Gasol only had three shots. The Nuggets funneled the offense through Shannon Brown and Matt Barnes, essentially daring them to step up. Brown and the Laker bench has certainly done that, but they weren't able to do so in this one.

Instead, it was the Nugget bench that came up large. Ty Lawson put in 17 points and five assists in 23 minutes. J.R. Smith added 13 in 26 minutes. Between them and what the starters provided, Denver had the scoring angle covered.

A lot of this game can be summed up between the two stars. Kobe finished with 32 points but was just 11-32 from the field and started 2-10. Carmelo Anthony netted 32 but was 14-25 from the floor. Efficiency wins.

Early on, it looked like the Lakers were perfectly content to play at the Nuggets leisure. Whatever pace Denver wanted, it got. The Nuggets controlled tempo and the Lakers didn't put up much of a fight in stopping the game from going into a shootout. Not that the Lakers can't hold serve in that situation, but the Nuggets are a powerful offensive team when things get rolling. And they did Thursday.

The Lakers weren't headed for an undefeated season. Some thought they might be able to challenge the record 15-0 start. A tall order for sure, even for a team as stout as the Lakers. But I don't think 8-1 is all bad. Though that 33-19 fourth quarter for the Nuggets has to have the Lakers thinking they very well should still be unblemished.

GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:

Ray Allen: 35 points, one rebound, zero assists on 13-23 shooting and 7-9 from downtown in 41 minutes in a Boston Celtics road win over the Miami Heat.

Honorable mention to...

Carmelo Anthony: 32 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, two blocks on 14-25 shooting in 41 minutes in a Denver Nuggets home win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
LeBron James: 35 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, three setals on 9-21 shooting in 44 minutes in a Miami Heat home loss to the Boston Celtics. Luol Deng: 26 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, one steal and two blocks on 9-19 shooting in 40 minutes in a Chicago Bulls home win over the Golden State Warriors.     

BULLS ROUT WARRIORS:

By Royce Young.

It was the game that no one was watching. Heck, I'm not 100 percent sure even Warrior or Bulls fans were tuned in with Miami and Boston going for Round 2 on TNT.

But here's what you missed:

  • A swarming, relentless defensive performance by the Bulls, holding the Warriors to 90 points, including just 38 at the half.
  • A terrific game from Derrick Rose who 22 points and 13 assists.
  • Chicago's starters all scoring at least 14 points.
  • And really, a game that stayed interesting despite being a blowout after three quarters.

Credit the Warriors, who really kept playing all the way through. This was the fourth in five nights for Golden State and the Warriors were just in over their heads against a rested Bulls club. Plus, it was obvious early on how meaningful David Lee is to them. He was out of this one because Wilson Chandler broke a piece of his face on Lee's arm, requiring Lee to get a number of stitches.

But Brandan Wright started for Lee and was entirely unproductive against the Bulls' front line. Dorell Wright led Golden State in rebounds with eight, if that tells you something.

Regardless though, the Warriors are still 6-3 and actually looking like a decently solid team. The Bulls reclaimed the Central Division in the East with the win, moving to 4-3. It was a great game or anything necessarily skipping Heat-Celtics over, but the game was played and stuff happened. But you probably didn't see it. Hence why I'm here telling you about it.

DON'T MISS:

 

WHIMSY:

A "Big Four" of musicians -- Chris Brown, Bow Wow, Lil Wayne and Drake -- take in the action between Boston's Big Four (Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo) and Miami's Big 2.5 (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh).

rappers-heat

 

ONE FINAL THOUGHT:

According to Basketball-Reference.com , 5'3" point guard Muggsy Bogues averaged 4.1 rebounds in 35.7 minutes during the 1993-1994 season. So far this season, Miami Heat power forward Chris Bosh is averaging 5.1 rebounds in 33.3 minutes per game.

Follow F&R on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA and check out our RSS feed . This has been your daily edition of the Game Changer.
Posted on: November 10, 2010 3:30 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2010 3:31 pm
 

West statue joining Magic outside Staples

West to be honored with Staples Center statue at All-Star Weekend 2011. Posted by Matt Moore



Magic, you've got company.

ESPN LA reports that the Lakers have commissioned a statue which will be unveiled at All-Star weekend in February honoring Jerry West. It is the fifth statue to go outside Staples Center, and the third Laker-related piece. All-time great play-by-play man Chick Hearn, Oscar De La Hoya, Wayne Gretzky and of course, Magic, also have statues outside the famous arena.

Jeanie Buss alluded to the commissioning in her recent book, "Laker Girl ," saying that there was a choice to be made between West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Jabbar, despite all his stats, accolades, and legend, failed to nab the plaster. You have to wonder how much of it was due to his notorious attitude, combined with West's contributions as both a coach and General Manager for the franchise.

West carries the nickname "Mr. Clutch" and was so involved in the team throughout his tenure that during his time as General Manager he could hardly stand to watch the games.

He looked good in gold. He'll look good in bronze.

Posted on: November 9, 2010 4:50 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:37 pm
 

Lamar Odom sues IRS over tax deductions

Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom is involved in an income tax dispute that has led him to sue the Internal Revenue Service. Posted by Ben Golliverlamar-odom 

On the court, it's all peaches and cream for Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who is off to a red hot start during L.A.'s torrid start to the season. Odom is averaging a double-double through seven games, 15.9 points and 11.1 rebounds, and he's adding 3.4 assists on top while shooting 46.5 percent from the field. Ow ow. In tax court, however, it's not as smooth sailing for Odom. Apparently, the Internal Revenue Service took issue with some of his deductions in 2007. Namely, according to Forbes.com, Odom tried to write off the cost of league-imposed fines and, after the deductions were disallowed, he is taking his case to court. 
“The taxpayer claimed $12,000 of employee business expenses for fines that were assessed by the National Basketball Association,” he declared, writing in the third person. “These fines are commonly assessed on professional athletes and are work related. Therefore the fines incurred are ordinary and necessary employee business expense.” The petition, which listed his address as an agent’s office in Los Angeles, offered no details about the nature of transgressions leading to the fines.
Federal law generally prohibits tax deductions for financial sanctions resulting from criminal cases and matters like traffic violations. But Odom wrote, “The fines imposed by the team and the NBA are not imposed for the violation of any government law and are therefore not specifically excluded.”
Does Odom have a case? Who knows. Does he need the money that bad? Probably not, but it sounds like this has become a matter of principle for him.  As long as he doesn't try to deduct the cost of Khloe's weaves, I'm cool with this legal journey, especially because it's surely the most complicated way to appeal an NBA fine ever undertaken.  Somewhere, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is rubbing his hands together, thinking, "Brilliant!" and yelling for his personal assistant to get his tax attorney on the phone immediately.
Posted on: November 8, 2010 5:06 pm
 

What we've learned: Week 2



Posted by Royce Young

I have a confession. This is something I'm not proud of. This is something I haven't told many people, but I'm going to share with you guys who are my closest friends (right?). Up until about five years ago, I didn't know what "tennis shoes" were. I only knew of these things called "tennashoes." It's true.

I considered (and still do) consider myself a decently bright person. But for some reason, that little nugget of information always slipped past me. I remember saying to myself upon learning the correct usage, "Oh, well you learn something new every day."

And when it comes to the NBA, that's definitely true. In this case, we learn new things every week. Now two weeks are down and everyone has at least five games under their belt. What kind of knowledge do we have now that maybe we didn't have before? Five things:

Forget Durant. Forget LeBron. Chris Paul is your current MVP frontrunner - in November. These things change. Kind of like how in college football everyone freaks out and starts declaring Heisman frontrunners in September (remember Denard Robinson and Ryan Mallett? How are they doing now?), people like to crown MVP winners way too early. So keep that in mind as I tell you that Chris Paul is the early favorite to win the MVP award.

There's a lot of criteria, though undefined, as to what it takes to win the MVP. A great season, a great team and big media attention are all important parts. But right now, CP3 has two added things that makes him a prime candidate: 1) A great story and 2) A great turnaround.

Before the season not many expected the Hornets to be a viable contender in the West. But they've started well going 6-0, which includes a big win over the Heat. And what that means is that Chris Paul gets a lot of credit for raising his game to make what most perceived as an average team into a good team and that immediately, we all start saying things like "CP3 4 MVP!"

Come March though, if the Hornets have returned to the planet and are hovering around .500, playing out a season that most expected, Paul probably won't be an MVP favorite. If Durant's Thunder are on course for 50 wins and he's going to lead the league in scoring, he'll probably win. Or if Dwight Howard is putting up 25 and 12 for a 55-win Magic, he'll get the nod. So it's too early to make any real judgments on it yet, but if we were handing out an MVP for the First Two Weeks Award, Chris Paul would be deserving.

Oklahoma City really does has some work to do. It's not time to panic in Thunderland, but it's not a bad time to raise an eyebrow.

The Thunder are 3-3 with losses to the Jazz, the Clippers and the Celtics. Not terrible loss, considering the Clipper loss came on the road. But the two home losses to the Celtics and Jazz are really the ones that have people puzzled. In both games, OKC was down by 20 points and in both games, struggled on both ends of the floor.

The Thunder offense is basically a complete mess right now. It's all one-on-one basketball with at the most, two passes on a possession. OKC ranks dead last in assists per game and last in assists per field goal made. They aren't moving the ball, aren't spacing and aren't shooting well. Honestly, maybe it's a miracle it's not worse than 3-3.

So much expectation was placed on this team and it's way too early to give up on them. It's too early to even start saying things like, "I thought this team was supposed to challenge the Lakers... yeah right." Give it time. How you're playing in the first two weeks of November doesn't matter near as much as how you're playing the last two weeks of March.

It's too early to be concerned about a team that still has every key piece off a team that won 50 games last season. But it might not be too early to ask what's going on.

It's the Lakers and 29 other teams right now. There are about four elite looking teams in the league right now. The Heat, the Celtics, the Magic and the Lakers. But the Lakers have even separated themselves from those other three at this point.

The 7-0 record is nice, but the Lakers lead the league in point differential, winning by an average of 13.6 points a game. And it's not just that, but they've dismantled teams. Like dominated them. What's scary too, is that they aren't even at full strength without Andrew Bynum. That sound you heard was the entire Western Conference peeing their pants.

It's way premature to start talking about 72 wins for this team because their competition hasn't been that difficult and losing three in a row isn't that hard to do in the NBA. But as it stands now, in terms of ranking power, it's the Lakers alone at the top, with 29 other teams looking up.

Houston may have a big problem. (Has that joke reached a point where it's fair to use again? Like it's so lame that it's kind of OK?) The Rockets start of 1-5 was unexpected. They do have an excuse because they've probably played the toughest schedule in the league thus far. The teams they've lost to are a combined 25-5. They finally caught a bad team, whooping the Timberwolves Sunday.

Houston surely isn't feeling great about its start because you never want to dig a hole early, but with the loss of Aaron Brooks for 4-6 weeks, it could be getting a little rougher for the Rockets. They are on the road for five of their next six and after three weeks of the NBA season could be too far behind to make up ground.

The Wolves are truly terrible. In the same way starting any 72-win talk now is way too early, starting any "worst team ever" talking is equally premature.

Howevah, the Timberwolves are ridiculously, comically bad. They won their opening game by a point over the Kings and now have dropped five straight. They are losing by an average of 17.1 points per game right now. The next closest team is the Wizards, who are losing by 11.6 ppg.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, in the past 20 seasons, only two other teams have suffered three 25-point losses in their first seven games: the Bulls in 2003 and the SuperSonics in 2005. The Wolves have lost by 25 or more in three of their first seven games. Yikes.

Add in the fact that the Wolves lost every functioning point guard on the roster and may be starting Wayne Ellington or Maurice Ager there for a week and it's kind of hard to picture the next Minnesota win.

These are the pains you go through when you're rebuilding (or I guess "building" in Minnesota's case). Remember, the Thunder were 3-29 before Christmas two seasons ago. So things can be turned around. But at this current moment, the Wolves are a total disaster in every way.
Posted on: November 8, 2010 2:19 pm
 

Lakers could be moving rookies to D-League

Posted by Royce Young

It's not easy to make an impact as a rookie with the Los Angeles Lakers. The team is stacked with a ton of veteran talent to start with, plus the Lakers are typically picking in the late first round anyway.

But rookies Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks have kind of found their way on to the floor and have added some value to the Lakers. However, that time may be short lived.

With Andrew Bynum returning in about three weeks, room in the rotation won't be there and both Caracter and Ebanks might find themselves inactive and sitting in suits on a nightly basis. So instead of just leaving them be, Phil Jackson told the O.C. Register that he'd like to see both sent down to the D-League to get some more experience.

Caracter has actually been playing a decent amount appearing six of the Lakers seven games, including a season-high 16 minutes in a blowout win over the Grizzlies last week. It's not a ton, but Caracter is getting 6.5 minutes a game and it's not just scrap minutes. He's been filling in at power forward in the meat of the game.

Ebanks has seen less time appearing in just three games. But he's shown flashes of talent and as a 6'9 swingman with handling abilities, he's someone worth being patient with.

But when Bynum returns, that playing time won't be there. So the Lakers are taking a wise step and instead of getting nothing out of the two young talents, they're going to try and develop them. That's not something you see a lot of from the Lakers who don't really focus a ton on internal development, but with an eye toward to the future, they're going to take some time with Ebanks and Caracter.
Posted on: November 8, 2010 9:50 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:33 pm
 

Game Changer 11.8.10: Lakers keep rolling

The Lakers are the class of the NBA, Boston's bench holds down the Oklahoma City Thunder, Pau Gasol goes triple-double thanks to some slick passing and Marco Belinelli hits from way downtown. Posted by Ben Golliver

Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.

THE BIG ONE: LAKERS REMAIN UNDEFEATED

After looking bored against the Toronto Raptors on Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers put on their Sunday best to demolish the Portland Trail Blazers 121-96 at Staples. The game was over almost before it started, with the Lakers dominating virtually every facet of the game and breaking out some Showtime stunts as they coasted home during the second half. The scariest thing about Sunday night's win for the rest of the league is that it featured an ineffective and inefficient game from Kobe Bryant. Bryant was just 3-11 for 12 points in 25 minutes, but it hardly mattered, as the Lakers pounded the offensive glass (14 offensive rebounds) and got bucket after bucket at point blank range. Pau Gasol was sensational, slapping together a triple-double and operating at will from everywhere on the court. His interior passing was extraordinary at times, as the Lakers offense displayed great rhythm en route to their seventh straight victory to open the season. As impressive as the Lakers starters were -- and they were very impressive, with Ron Artest turning Portland all star Brandon Roy into a non-factor and Lamar Odom going off for a double-double -- the Lakers bench was equally solid. Point guard Steve Blake capped a solid evening for the second unit when he threw a transition alley oop off the glass after picking Blazers guard Wesley Matthews at the top of the key. Shannon Brown seemingly couldn't miss when open, Matt Barnes roughed up Rudy Fernandez and Derrick Caracter provided energy. Even without injured center Andrew Bynum, the Lakers are getting solid contributions from nine players deep, and the production drop off from the first unit to the second unit has been less noticeable than just about any other team in the league. Blake's addition is particularly key, as his ability to integrate quickly into the triangle offense makes the backcourt transition from first unit to reserves virtually seamless. It's starting to feel like the Lakers, by virtue of their unmatched chemistry, simply have a two year head start on the rest of the league (except Boston). The passing, the timing, the ball movement, the team defense, the group-first commitment is something that takes time -- perhaps more than a single season -- to get exactly right. The Lakers have all of that right now, in spades.  The rest of the league, including the new-look Heat, are simply playing catch-up right now.

GO-GO-GADGET LINES:

Pau Gasol:20 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals on 9-13 shooting. A triple double for LA's Spaniard in a runaway win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Honorable mention to...
Steve Nash: 19 points, 15 assists, five rebounds, 7-11 shooting. He's still got it, as the Suns top the Hawks in Atlanta on Sunday. Joe Johnson: 34 points, seven rebounds, six assists, on 15-27 shooting in 44 minutes. Huge night in a losing effort.

Al Horford: 30 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks on 13-16 shooting in 42 minutes. Even huger night in a losing effort.
Evan Turner: 14 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, 6-11 shooting in 35 minutes. Turner, starting in place of an injured Andre Iguodala, notched a double-double in a Sunday road win for Philly over the New York Knicks

DON'T MISS:

BOSTON BENCH HOLDS DOWN OKC:

Posted by Royce Young.

Holding leads as big as 22, the Celtics appeared to have the Thunder completely under control Sunday night. Oklahoma City was turning the ball over at a rapid rate, couldn't score and couldn't stop anybody. The game was on the verge of getting out of hand, if it wasn't already.

The deep Celtic bench was in charge of holding the lead, but Russell Westbrook sparked his club to a quick 9-0 run and then Kevin Durant got into the mix as well, keying another 13-2 spurt to finish the third quarter. The Thunder held the Celtics without a field goal for the last four minutes of the third and cut the lead to nine heading into the fourth. OKC wasn't done either. James Harden knocked down a 3 to start the fourth and just like that, OKC had Boston's lead to six with an entire quarter to go.

 

That's where Doc Rivers did something interesting. He didn't call timeout. And he didn't put his starters back in. Instead, he trusted his bench.

It's a luxury Rivers has the very few other coaches do. A bench that can be relied upon to hold leads, spell starters and in some cases, handle business all on their own. A lineup of Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels, Semih Erden, Glen Davis and starter Ray Allen, saw the Celtics' lead dwindle, but they were also the ones that restored it. After OKC cut it to six, Glen Davis hit back-to-back jumpshots to push the lead to 10, starting a 13-4 run that basically ended the game early.

Rivers eventually went back to his starting five with 4:30 left in the game, but truthfully, he could've used his bench to close out the Thunder. It was possibly more a function of the bench guys needing a break and the starters stepped in to spell them. Ironic, indeed.

The Boston bench is really what won the game for the Celtics too. In terms of starting scoring, the Thunder won 71-59. But the Celtics second group outscored OKC 33-12. It was pretty evenly distributed with Robinson and  Erden scoring nine, Davis eight and Daniels seven. And most importantly, they upheld the Celtic way playing terrific defense and keeping the Thunder out of the game.

Boston's depth is truly a weapon and something general manager Danny Ainge has wisely added to this team. With the age of the starters and the fact some games will be missed due to injuries or other things, the Celtics have the option to defer to a second unit that can not only stay competitive, but can win. 

WHIMSY:

Fresh out of jail, rapper Lil Wayne showed up courtside as the New Orleans Hornets hosted the Miami Heat on Friday night. lil-wayne

HERO OF THE NIGHT:

On Saturday night, the New Orleans Hornets topped the Milwaukee Bucks 87-81 thanks in part to a super long distance bomb by Hornets forward Marco Belinelli to close the first half.

ONE FINAL THOUGHT:

Via HoopsHype : Through Sunday's games, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom are combining for 64.5 ppg, 27.6 rpg and 12.9 apg. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are combining for 59.2 ppg, 16.5 rpg and 13.2 apg.
Follow F&R on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA and check out our RSS feed . This has been your daily edition of the Game Changer.
Posted on: November 6, 2010 1:42 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:31 pm
 

Lakers put down Raptors with late-game execution

The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Toronto Raptors on Friday night thanks to some clinical late-game execution. Posted by Ben Golliverpau-gasol

Friday night in Los Angeles we learned once again that a disinterested, more talented veteran team can hold off an upstart, motivated younger team simply by virtue of reliable late-game execution. The undefeated Los Angeles Lakers (6-0), who at times looked like they were going through the motions, received a solid test from a struggling Toronto Raptors team (1-4) that played like they have nothing to lose, because they don't.  A monster 38-point second quarter put Toronto on top at halftime, but the Laker attack continued to churn and churn and churn down the stretch, and the Raptors, despite receiving double-digit contributions from six different players, simply could not keep pace. This game turned on identity. The Lakers know themselves so well it's probably annoying. Their fourth-quarter offensive plays were as bread-and-butter as it gets. Baseline jumper from point guard Derek Fisher. Free throws from guard Kobe Bryant, who finished with 23 points, four rebounds, six assists and three steals. Eight fourth-quarter points from Pau Gasol, who played entirely above his Toronto opponents on his way to 30 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks. His points came about as efficiently as possible: two close-in looks and four free throws. On the flip side, the Raptors couldn't consistently get winning looks at the hoop, and they couldn't keep track of possession when it mattered most. During the final eight minutes of the game, Forward Amir Johnson missed a number of contested attempts near the rim, wing DeMar DeRozan was whistled for a careless charge, point guard Jose Calderon had a sloppy turnover, post Andrea Bargnani settled for multiple jumpers, and DeRozan and guard Leandro Barbosa both settled for, and missed, contested 3-point attempts.  It felt, at times, like directionless abandon, with both everybody and nobody stepping up for the Raptors offensively.  Aside from a meaningless Jarrett Jack 3-pointer as time expired, the Raptors were outscored 18-14 in the final 7:57 of the fourth quarter. In a nip-and-tuck affair, that was your ballgame. Chalk up another win for a strong title contender and put this in the books as another learning experience for a lottery-team.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com