The Los Angeles Lakers had been without D’Angelo Russell for six games as he nursed an ankle sprain, but he was finally able to return for a Friday night tilt against the Toronto Raptors.
It didn’t take long for Russell to get re-acclimated as he went right to work scoring and distributing the basketball. The Raptors have a swarming defense, but Russell was able to get to his spots to set up his own shots or his teammates.
After a poor third quarter, the guard was able to pick the team up with his outside shooting in the fourth quarter. Russell hit a series of 3s, each attempt more difficult than the last. His 16-point eruption in the final period was enough to lift the Lakers to their third consecutive victory.
Russell finished the night with 28 points to go along with nine assists and four rebounds. It was a successful return to the starting lineup and he should be a big piece for Los Angeles moving forward.
Outside of Russell, the bench unit was a collective force that helped the Lakers overcome their poor starts to the halves. The reserves scored 61 points, with Dennis Schroder leading the way with 23 of them. Schroder had a few rough stretches taking care of the basketball, but alongside Russell had a a great fourth quarter scoring the basketball.
Not to be outdone, Austin Reaves had another strong performance as he poured in 18 points and dished out five dimes. Reaves kickstarted the comeback with a couple of jumpers at the top of the fourth, whittling down Toronto’s lead bit by bit.
With the Raptors’ defense swarming toward Anthony Davis anytime he touched the ball, Rui Hachimura got a chance to shine in the halfcourt. Hachimura’s blend of midrange scoring and size near the rim helped the Lakers score on several possessions, easing the burden on the rest of the team. The 25-year-old finished with 16 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting.
Despite 21 turnovers that led to 17 Toronto points, Los Angeles was a perfect 19-of-19 from the free-throw line. They also outshot the Raptors on the night, shooting an impressive 56.3 percent from the field.
Up next for Lakers
The Lakers conclude their homestand on Sunday against the New York Knicks. L.A. then hits the road for a back-to-back set against the New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. They then return home on Friday for their regular season finale against the Dallas Mavericks.
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