The Los Angeles Lakers had not won a road game since the end of January but finally snapped that streak after overcoming the Toronto Raptors in overtime on Friday night.
The Lakers had just suffered an embarrassing defeat to the Raptors earlier in the week, but they would not let it happen a second time as they fought toe-to-toe with them from the jump and got the much-needed victory.
Head coach Frank Vogel made a surprising decision to start Wenyen Gabriel in order to combat the length and size of Toronto’s frontcourt. Gabriel rewarded Vogel’s decision with a career night, scoring 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field including 3-of-3 shooting from beyond the arc.
Gabriel was the shot in the arm the Lakers needed as his energy on both ends of the floor was infectious throughout the night.
Russell Westbrook has had to endure the ire of fans throughout the entirety of the 2021-22 season but came up clutch when L.A. needed it most. Westbrook recorded a triple-double of 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, but more importantly, redeemed a costly error by coming up with a steal and knocking down the 3-pointer that sent the game into overtime.
Toronto had a hard time keeping him out of the paint, where he either scored right at the rim or found open teammates.
Not to be outdone, LeBron James had another magnificent performance in a building he has grown comfortable in the past few seasons. James led all scorers with 36 points but really came alive in the fourth quarter, where he kept the Lakers from ever getting too far behind. It was another vintage James game and a reminder that he is more than capable of taking over when he needs to.
On the Raptors side of things, Scottie Barnes once again showed why he should be in consideration for Rookie of the Year after another impressive game against the Lakers. Barnes finished the night with 31 points, 17 rebounds, and 6 assists. Gary Trent Jr. followed behind him with 23 points, including a couple of threes that nearly doomed L.A.
Up next for the Lakers…
The Lakers continue their road trip with the second night of a back-to-back against Kyle Kuzma and the Washington Wizards. Afterward, they close out the trip on Monday against the Cleveland Cavaliers and return home to play the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.
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