Home / Sport / Lakers versus Raptors score, takeaway: Kyle Lowry leads Toronto to a lopsided victory over LeBron James and the company

Lakers versus Raptors score, takeaway: Kyle Lowry leads Toronto to a lopsided victory over LeBron James and the company

Ladies and gentlemen, we may have just found our fourth league contender. Just two nights after shooting down the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers were throttled by the Toronto Raptors, 107-92. They shot a meager 35.8 percent from the ground and 25.6 percent from behind the line, largely thanks to Toronto’s No. 2 defense. Former Raptor Danny Green didn’t shoot. Anthony Davis was held in a paltry 2-for-7 game from the field.

The Raptors, meanwhile, got their traditional contributions from almost everyone, although it was Kyle Lowry who led the way with 33 points, 14 rebounds and six assists. In doing so, he helped the Raptors to play the spoiler not only for the Lakers, but also for their rival Milwaukee Bucks. Both teams would have gotten the number 1

seed in their respective conferences if the Lakers had won. But alas, both sides will have to wait to get the spot.

Victory ensures almost a seed no. 2 for Toronto, who now leads Boston for 3.5 games with seven remaining. This should give them the flexibility to manage their lineups in the best way to prepare them for the post season. The Lakers already had that privilege by virtue of their dominant regular season. Coming tonight, it seemed likely that this would be the last battle between the Lakers and the Raptors this season, but Toronto’s performance made something perfectly clear: a rematch between these two teams in the NBA Finals is absolutely on the table.

There is no one that the Raptors cannot defend

Just two days after Anthony Davis prepared the Clippers’ mincemeat, defense no. 2 of the NBA kept him only 2 out of 7 from the field. Their commitment to closing it was remarkable. At one point, it was even tripled on the perimeter. Nick Nurse’s game plan was clear: stop the star and let the bench try to beat us. The bench was excellent but the plan worked perfectly. Without Davis entering his usual 25 points, the Lakers were kept at only 92 points. There is only so much that a group of RPGs can do.

The raptors stumbled upon another star

Let’s talk about OG Anunoby night. He finished with 23 points in 8-for-9, perfect from behind the bow, while also shedding four rebounds and an assist. Oh, and he also defended that LeBron James most of the night. Have you ever heard of him?

Toronto’s staff for player development is among the best in basketball, but their work with Anunoby has been remarkable. Its development was almost a mirror image of Pascal Siakam. He entered the league as an elite athlete capable of defending, but slowly learned to shoot and then handle the ball. Anunoby fired 38% behind the bow before stopping and his dribbling grew by leaps and bounds. If this is Anunoby, the Raptors are a true championship contender.

The Lakers mixed him on the defensive and found some success

The Lakers tend to be a fairly traditional defensive team. They prefer to lower the coverage as a method of channeling drivers into their rim protection, a good strategy when playing two big men most of the time. But with Avery Bradley out, their attack point defense has lost its main weapon, and so the Lakers have adapted. They turned on much more defensive screens than they usually do, and while the Raptors finished 107 points, most came out of the hot fourth quarter shoot. They kept the Raptors just 41 points in the first half. It’s a nice weapon to keep in the back pocket against some opponents, especially those who shoot particularly well.

The Lakers have to be happy with their bench, at least

The Lakers offensively rely on their two superstars and, under normal circumstances, getting just nine field goals from James and Davis would have been catastrophic. But boy, the bench went up in this. The Lakers scored 49 of their 92 points from the players on the bench, including 39 from the combination of Kyle Kuzma, Dion Waiters and Alex Caruso. The waiters and Caruso have had positive differentials in the loss, a critical nugget considering how much the Lakers tend to play with LeBron on the ground. After a dominant exit against the Clippers, it seems that adding Waiters is making a substantial difference to these backup drives. They finally have a real hit maker, and it’s making their lives a lot easier.

JR Smith is not ready for prime time.

Okay, it was a worthwhile experiment considering how little was out there, but it ran its course. JR Smith will not be a significant part of the Lakers’ rotation in the playoffs. In eight minutes, he committed two fouls, missed his one (bad) shot and committed a remarkable turnover. His defense is not close to the caliber of the playoffs at this stage. The Lakers were five points behind him on the floor, somewhat surprising given the success of the rest of their bench. It’s just so washed up at this point. Few should be surprised to hear that a 34-year-old who has just spent a year and a half out of basketball will not contribute to the championship push. Barring accidents, he should be glued to the bench for the rest of the season.

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