Toronto Raptors vs. LA Lakers: Postgame Grades and Analysis for LA

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIMarch 9, 2013

Toronto Raptors vs. LA Lakers: Postgame Grades and Analysis for LA

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    What. A. Game.

    With defense absent, the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Toronto Raptors by a score of 118-116. The offensive slugfest was down to the wire, as Kobe Bryant's late-game heroics led the Lakers back to force overtime.

    Bryant finished with 41 points and 12 assists—his second consecutive game with at least 40 and 12.

    It didn't look like it would be a win through the first 47 minutes. The Lakers allowed Toronto to score 37 first-quarter points and trailed 107-103 with 30 seconds remaining.

    Suddenly, Bryant took over in the fourth quarter, Steve Nash came up with huge three-pointers and Dwight Howard made the necessary defensive stops. If that's not enough, Metta World Peace decimated Rudy Gay defensively.

    So how did it all go down?

Steve Nash, Point Guard

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    Overall Grade: A-

    Minutes Played: 40

    +/-: +6

    Stat Line: 22 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 7/13 FG, 4/6 3PT

    After performing rather transparently in the first half, Steve Nash turned it on in a major way come the third quarter.

    Nash scored eight points in a hurry, countering Toronto's scoring with two three-pointers.

    Come the fourth quarter, Nash was at it again. This time around, it came with the Lakers trailing by seven with less than three minutes left.

    Bottom of the net.

    Nash struck again in overtime, draining a huge three-pointer with less than a minute remaining in overtime. The shot tied the game at 115-115 after L.A. appeared to have lost it.

    Old man Nash continues to thrive.

    Even as he missed a clutch free throw with 06.6 seconds remaining, Nash's contributions were invaluable.

Kobe Bryant, Shooting Guard

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    Overall Grade: A+

    Minutes Played: 44

    +/-: 0

    Stat Line: 41 points, 12 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 9 turnovers, 11/22 FG, 5/10 3PT, 14/16 FT

    Can we give Kobe Bryant's fourth quarter and overtime bonus points and push this grade above A+?

    Bryant picked up yet another double-double with 41 points and 12 assists. Unfortunately, Kobe also committed nine turnovers.

    The second half and overtime made the world forget about those woes.

    During the third quarter, Bryant began to find his scoring touch. He took it to the rack for a coupe of buckets before dropping in a jumper.

    His signature moment came as he stole an outlet pass, spun away from a defender, dropped back to wait for his teammates and attacked the basket with a dunk.

    Moments later, Kobe took a charge and brought the Lakers back into a rather disappointing outing at the Staples Center.

    Bryant hit an unbelievable double head fake three with 1:40 remaining to make it 105-103. With 29 seconds left, Bryant hit a three-pointer to make it 107-106.

    With 05.5 seconds remaining and the Lakers down 109-106, the Black Mamba struck again—BANG!

    Three-pointer and we're headed to overtime.

    Come the extra period, Bryant played lockdown defense on the red-hot DeMar DeRozan. With 10.6 seconds remaining, however, the Mamba made his true mark.

    Kobe went by all five defenders—literally—for a dunk to give L.A. a 117-115 lead.

    Kobe had 42 points and 12 assists in the game before this. He had 41 and 12 Friday night.


Metta World Peace, Small Forward

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    Overall Grade: B-

    Minutes Played: 44

    +/-: +11

    Stat Line: 9 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 3/12 FG, 1/6 3PT

    During the second quarter, Metta World Peace received a pass in transition at the three-point line. MWP hesitated and lost balance as he didn't realize just how wide open he was.

    After holding back on the extra pass—rightfully so—MWP attempted to spot-up for three. He ended up missing an off-balance shot.

    It was that kind of night for Metta.

    World Peace never seemed comfortable, missing shots that we're used to seeing him convert. Most of those shots came during late game situations.

    Fortunately, MWP did a phenomenal job of defending Rudy Gay.

    Paired with Kobe Bryant, World Peace shut Gay down. He shot just 7-of-25 from the floor and was dominated in overtime.

    MWP's defense on Gay's game-tying attempt as the clock expired secured a win.

Earl Clark, Power Forward

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    Overall Grade: C-

    Minutes Played: 18

    +/-: -10

    Stat Line: 2 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1/3 FG

    Earl Clark saw limited playing time due to the Toronto Raptors going with small ball and the Lakers offering Jodie Meeks extended run.

    In his time on the court, however, Clark played quality individual ball. He ran well in transition, made quality passes and came up with key rebounds.

    Unfortunately, his minutes were limited and his defensive contributions were poor at best.

Dwight Howard, Center

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    Overall Grade: A

    Minutes Played: 46

    +/-: +14

    Stat Line: 24 points, 13 rebounds, 1 assist, 5 blocks, 3 steals, 9/15 FG, 6/13 FT

    If you're looking for someone to blame for a difficult win, Dwight Howard isn't the guy. Even if the Lakers defense failed to step up, D-12 was one of the few players who kept them in this game.

    That includes a game-altering block during the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and another in overtime.

    That was the story of Howard's evening, as he compensated for horrendous team defense by making huge plays on the ball. That includes running full speed in transition for both offense and defense.

    All in all, Howard played an exceptional individual game.

    Unfortunately, free-throw shooting woes continue to plague the All-Star center. It appears as if this has limited his offensive touches due to his teammates' wariness of Howard getting fouled.

    Fortunately, Howard stepped up in the clutch on D as Kobe did the same on offense. If his teammates would have followed suit, the Lakers might have won this game rather comfortably.

    Instead, it took Kobe's late-game heroics and D-12's overtime swats to get the W.

Jodie Meeks, Sixth Man

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    Overall Grade: C-

    Minutes Played: 36

    +/-: -8

    Stat Line: 8 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 3/11 FG, 2/9 3PT

    Jodie Meeks received the most significant playing time of his Lakers career. Not only did Mike D'Antoni trust him with major minutes, but he provided him with late-game scoring opportunities.

    Meeks didn't come through.

    After struggling from the floor throughout regulation, Meeks missed a golden opportunity in overtime. Specifically, he botched a wide-open three with the team down 115-112.

    There was just over one minute remaining.

    With that being said, Meeks was on the floor for a reason. He provided excellent energy and enabled the Lakers to switch Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace onto and off of Rudy Gay.

    For a glimpse of sunshine on a cloudy day, note that Meeks didn't commit a single turnover.


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    Overall Grade: C

    Average +/-: -4

    Collective Stat Line: 20 points, 18 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals

    Steve Blake's game was summed up in two plays during the second quarter.

    Blake came up with a steal and jumped out into transition, pushing the pace and getting into the lane. As the defense began to trail, however, Blake slowed down out of caution.

    The play fell apart and the Lakers walked away empty-handed.

    Moments later, Blake ran the floor in transition, caught a pass in stride and drained a three-point field goal.

    During the third quarter, Blake struck again. The former Maryland Terrapin grabbed a long offensive rebound, kicked it out to Jodie Meeks and assisted a key three-pointer.

    On a night in which L.A. failed to get anything going defensively, Blake stepped it up in a major way on offense.

    Antawn Jamison provided quality minutes, as well, although he did miss a wide-open three with the Lakers down 94-88 at the 6:11 mark of the fourth quarter.

    With that being said, Kobe Bryant saved everyone's grade Friday night.