Needing every win to avoid the play-in game, the Los Angeles Lakers hosted a shorthanded Toronto Raptors team on Sunday night in what was a prime opportunity to come away on top.
Unfortunately though, the Lakers’ effort level was low once again and Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam both had their best games of the season, resulting in a 121-114 loss for L.A.
The Lakers were determined to establish Andre Drummond in the low post early and the center delivered as he scored seven quick points to put the team ahead. Defensively, Los Angeles did a great job limiting Toronto to one shot and running out in semi-transition to set up their offense.
The Purple and Gold looked like they settled in on both ends as they forced turnovers that ignited their break while also hitting open 3-pointers that extended their lead to 12 as the decision to insert Alex Caruso into the starting lineup was appearing to pay off.
Siakam was able to get the Raptors back on track by scoring 17 points in the period, but Kyle Kuzma caught fire from the field and the Lakers went into the second up 38-32.
It was a sloppy beginning to the second for L.A. as they began to turn the basketball over, which allowed Toronto to tie the game at 40. The Lakers responded with a mini-run, but the Raptors responded to keep the game close midway through the quarter.
Los Angeles’ issues fouling Toronto came back to bite them as the latter got into the bonus and took full advantage of their trips to take a lead. Things only got worse for the Lakers as they played with a lack of intensity and focus that put them in a 72-59 hole at halftime.
Lowry sparked the end-of-the-half run for the Raptors, knocking down a three and then a layup at the buzzer with little-to-no resistance from the Laker defense.
The poor effort on both ends continued at the start of the third as the Lakers quickly fell behind by 18, forcing a timeout from head coach Frank Vogel. Vogel inserted Talen Horton-Tucker who provided a small spark, but Toronto held on to its massive lead.
Like the rest of the Lakers, Anthony Davis struggled to get much going offensively while the Raptors continued to pile on. Kuzma was able to cut some of Toronto’s momentum with a 3-pointer but L.A. went into the fourth trailing 99-84.
The Lakers finally showed some signs of life as they briefly cut the deficit to 10, but Lowry’s hot shooting kept them at bay. LeBron James tried to keep L.A. in it, but the lack of defense prevented them from making much of a dent in the score.
The team tried to make a late-game comeback and got within six, but ultimately Toronto’s double-digit lead was too much to overcome and the Lakers would walk away with another disappointing loss.
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