The Los Angeles Lakers looked to continue their recent strong play on Friday night when they welcomed the Toronto Raptors to town.
The Lakers hadn’t beaten the Raptors at home since 2014, but that streak came to an end as L.A. hung on for a 122-112 victory.
L.A. got off to a slow start, trailing 8-2 early before D’Angelo Russell drove and finished a layup. It marked Russell’s first game in a while after missing the last six games with an ankle sprain.
Toronto’s size overwhelmed the Lakers early though as Jakob Poeltl finished a few easy buckets inside. OG Anunoby then hit a 3 to extend the Raptors lead to 22-10 early, forcing the Lakers to use a timeout.
The Lakers finally started to get going a bit out of the timeout with Russell completing a three-point play and then Rui Hachimura drilling on from deep. That was the start of a nice run for L.A. to close the first as they went into the second with a slim 35-31 deficit after once trailing by 15.
Jarred Vanderbilt made sure the run continued into the second as he knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to tie the game at 41. L.A. then took the lead after Vanderbilt came up with a steal and then earned a flagrant foul on Scottie Barnes.
Coming off the bench for the first time with Russell returning, Dennis Schroder did a good job of leading the second unit. He was creating shots for himself and others, and then Russell returned the favor by hitting Schroder for a corner 3 to give the German point guard 13 first-half points.
It was the Russell show to end the second quarter as he was scoring from everywhere, leading the Lakers on another run. They went into the halftime locker room leading 70-62, closing the half on a 15-7 run.
The Raptors came out in the third quarter much like they started the game though, scoring nine straight points to regain the lead and force another Lakers timeout.
Turnovers were a theme for the Lakers in the third quarter as they could not take care of the ball, allowing the Raptors to continue getting easy buckets to extend their lead. After a flagrant one was called on Anthony Davis, the Raptors extended their lead to double digits again with a 24-5 run.
The Lakers closed the quarter strong to keep it within striking distance at least, but they still went into the final quarter trailing 90-85.
Reaves started the fourth quarter off on a high note, completing a three-point play and then connecting from midrange. He then came up with a big steal when Toronto was in transition, leading to a 3 by Schroder to give the Lakers the lead once again.
L.A. locked in defensively from there, allowing them to get out on the break where Russell drained a pair of 3s to extend the lead to 107-98 midway through the fourth.
Barnes kept his team in it by getting to the free throw line, and then he cut the deficit to six after drilling a 3 with 3:30 to play.
Russell again answered with back-to-back triples of his own, putting the game out of reach for good this time.
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