By Mark Medina
TORONTO – The Lakers couldn’t escape from the problems that have plagued them all season back at home. It also appeared they didn’t bring much energy along with their luggage over here, either.
The Lakers’ 108-103 loss Sunday to the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre featured far too many snapshots of another effort gone astray.
Before the Lakers had enough time to realize they switched time zones during an afternoon game, the Raptors stormed out to an 11-2 run. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni called two times outs within the first seven minutes of the game.
But the mess continued.
Kobe Bryant never found his jump shot, posting 24 points on only nine of 30 shooting. Toronto shot 54.8 percent from the field, a by product of the Lakers defense cracking simply by conceding open three-pointers and drives to the basket.
Lakers center Dwight Howard earned his second ejection of the season with 1:49 left in the first half. Lakers center Dwight Howard with 4:43 left in the first quarter, visibly upset over a no-call after absorbing contact from Raptors center Aaron Gray. Howard picked up his second technical, prompting an immediate ejection with 1:18 left after locking up with Toronto’s Alan Anderson. It was an otherwise forgettable night for Howard, who had 5 points on only three field-goal attempts.
The ejection appeared surprising for Howard, who questioned the call and prompted Metta World Peace and Steve Nash to calm him down. Howard has been ejected twice this season and has picked up six technicals, remaining 10 shy from picking him an automatic league suspension. Bryant barked at officials too and picked up a technical. D’Antoni frequently voice displeasure as well.
Pretty bad, eh?
Yes, it is.
The Lakers (17-23) squandered an opportunity to beat a sub.500 opponent at a time they need to collect as many victories to climb out of the Western Conference basement. With the Lakers playing nine of their next 12 games, they have offered no evidence they can improve their 5-13 road record. A week after snapping a six-game losing streak, the Lakers have dropped two consecutive games.
Those looking for any silver linings could look at a f ew things. Earl Clark provides continuous energy once again with his third double double since entering the rotation. Pau Gasol’s second half picked up in production and effort following Howard’s ejection, scoring 16 of his 23 points in that time frame. The Lakers chipped away to reduce the game to single digits in the final minutes of the game.
But that proved to be mere window dressing overshadowing the Lakers’ long-term inconsistency on effort, defense and ball movement. Those issues may continue each time the Lakers play another game.