The Winning Streak ends with a

At any rate, there were some mild bright spots. Caruso looks more like the first backup off the bench every game. After a rough start (one similarly experienced by Josh Hart who was slow in coming back from his leg injury) Caruso has shown he can compete at this level. In 13 games he’s shooting 46%, 36% from 3. Like the rest of the team his free throws are a mess, but he makes solid reads and hasn’t shown a proclivity to make silly plays. Ennis struggled from the start, never found a groove, and largely looks nothing like the player I was mildly fond of late last season. Not sure what is going on but he’s committing absurdly silly fouls, not really hustling how we’ve seen he can, and is making terrible reads with the ball. Not a good recipe for your success at this level.

Julius Randle had an awesome first half and should have been the focal point of the offense tonight but never really was. Jonas couldn’t stop him, Serge couldn’t stop him and yet they settled for a lot of jump shots when they were down in the third. Larry Nance Jr. had a great game, Clarkson a so-so game for him, lately. Kuzma looked tired, again, but I think he and Hart are in the middle of hitting their respective rookie walls. I’m hoping he gets some bounce back in him. Maybe after All Star weekend.

Comebacks hinge on stops and scoring off of them but despite turning over the Raptors 15 times we only scored 8 fast break points. We played so-so defense tonight (too many points in the paint) but just could not figure out how to score on the Raptors. Won the battle from the free throw line, for once, but lost the rebounding game and we just couldn’t knock down threes to save our lives. That’s what makes it so odd we ignored our best low post players so often when that was the only part of the game working for us. Need to be a smarter team followed by a better fundamentals team. Hallmarks of a young team learning.

All in all, the Raptors are going to the playoffs, maybe even the Eastern Conf. Finals, and with the Cavs struggling and Boston not having an option other than Kyrie…this could be the year they get to the Finals. They’re a solid NBA team. You maybe don’t want to see Fred VanVleet go off on you for 25 points…but there it is. Maybe this is the game that helps us move past losing our effort and focus when a couple shots or calls don’t go your way, especially on the road. Couple days off before the flight to Florida and the Orlando Magic. The best teams lose one and start a new streak, let’s see how these young Lakers respond.

Oh, I almost forgot. Congrats Nigel Hayes on some big NBA minutes and team leading PER of +7!!!