Lakers Vs. Raptors Game Preview & TV Info: Bouncing Back After Blowout Loss
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers were embarrassed by the Phoenix Suns on the road Sunday night, but they have little time to dwell on the past. Less than 24 hours later, they are back on the court at Arena to take on the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors have been one of the surprise teams of the 2021-22 season. While no one expected them to be a non-competitive team, they are seven games over .500, and just one game back of the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.

They are led by the balanced five-man attack of Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr. and rookie Scottie Barnes. The Raptors rank 14th in offensive rating, defensive rating and net rating, but their stats don’t tell the whole story.

Of these five, VanVleet and Anunoby’s statuses are in question for Monday night, as VanVleet is questionable against the Lakers due to a knee injury while Anunoby is out with a fractured finger. If VanVleet plays, he is the exact type of guard that has given L.A. trouble all season.

The Lakers continue to play their games without Anthony Davis or Kendrick Nunn, although there has been increased talk of a Davis return before the playoffs. Dwight Howard was also ruled out of this game due to personal family matters.

Another status to watch for is that of LeBron James, given that it’s the second night of a back-to-back. He is truly a game-time decision according to Frank Vogel and will test it out pregame.

If James is able to play, it gives him another chance to build on an incredible individual 19th season. It also improves the Lakers’ odds of winning against a pesky Raptors team that is not going to make things easy on teams that don’t give their best effort.

L.A. has shown some self-awareness recently, criticizing their own effort and energy the way fans have for much of the season. With just 15 games left in the season, the Lakers are running out of chances to prove they’re even capable of turning things around.

Wins against teams like the Raptors show an ability to work hard when need be. The Lakers have also fared significantly better at home, where they are 20-16 this season. At home, the Lakers play at a 45-win pace. On the road, they play at a measly 24-win pace.

It’s not a guarantee, but the Lakers appear relatively locked into the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference. They have a 1.5-game lead on the No. 10 New Orleans Pelicans, a 2.5-game lead on the Portland Trail Blazers, and trail the No. 8 L.A. Clippers by 5.5 games.

At this point in the season, fans want to see energy and effort as much as they want to see wins. Let’s see if the Lakers can deliver on the second night of a back-to-back.

Lakers (29-38) vs. Raptors (37-30)

7:30 p.m. PT, March 14, 2022 Arena, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Malik Monk
SF: Austin Reaves
PF: Stanley Johnson
C: LeBron James

Key Reserves: Carmelo Anthony, Talen Horton-Tucker, Wenyen Gabriel, Trevor Ariza

Projected Raptors Starting Lineup:

PG: Fred VanVleet
SG: Gary Trent Jr.
SF: Scottie Barnes
PF: Pascal Siakam
C: Precious Achiuwa

Key Reserves: Chris Boucher, Thaddeus Young, Armoni Brooks, Khem Birch

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