The night started out so bad for Lakeshow it felt like it was going to be a blowout from the opening six minutes, and Kawhi Leonard didn't even suit up for the Toronto Raptors! I can't remember the last time I've seen a Laker outcome so seemingly decided that early on, and we've had some shitty teams the last five years. It was ridiculous. The Raptors hopped out to a near 30 point lead in the first quarter!!!
That was because Lakers came out with no energy. The team knows it. That translated to awful defense and no gusto on the glass. The Raptors just took advantage. People can point to this game being the second night of a back-to-back after an enormous win in Portland the night before (a place where the Lakers hadn't won in years) but this performance was just vomit-inducing.
The Lakers young guys rallied a bit in the fourth quarter to cut it to a ten-point game, but Toronto closed things out cleanly to go home with the win. Going to delete this one from the memory bank as soon as I can. See the game recap and takeaways below.
Kawhi Leonard was out of this game for Toronto because of a foot injury, so Danny Green and Serge Ibaka capped things off for Canada with two threes and some paint buckets to take the early lead over the Lakers 10-4. LA chose to attack the paint for their points while their defense around the perimeter suffered. The Raptors were just on fire from the floor as they cracked open a double-digit lead on LA's home floor 20-8 with 7:00 to play in the first. Kawhi Leonard was out of action, but the Raps looked totally capable of stealing one. The Lakers were seriously underestimating them.
Luke Walton called a timeout what felt like two minutes too late, which didn't phase the Raps who kept up their Sunday assault on the Lakers 30-10. When's the last time you saw somebody down by 20 six minutes in the first freakin' quarter??? Serge Ibaka was a ridiculous 8/8 with 18 points and the quarter wasn't even over. Luke needed another timeout with the score at 34-10 with 3:30 to go in the first. Lakers couldn't hit anything for the life of them.
This was shaping up to be the Lakers first blowout loss of the season....One team on the floor clearly had a plan while the other was just grasping at straws. Just an unbelievable embarrassment. Raptors were up 42-17 at the end of the first quarter.
And it was the same story to start the second. The Lakers allowed three easy buckets and committed careless turnovers. The Raptors just had their foot on the gas and would not let up. It was bad strategy littered with isolation plays by the Lakers and a failure to adapt to Toronto's lineups. I mean LeBron was sitting on the bench to start the second! The Raptors crossed the 50-point mark and there was STILL 8:45 left in the second quarter.
The Lakers found a sliver of momentum when the majority of the starters came back in. They actually started running some sets and getting transition opportunities, but the defense and rebounding were still anemic. Nobody on the Lakers thought to box anyone out for a rebound. That's what happens when you don't have more than one good, experienced big on the roster. It was now a 22 point Toronto lead 54-32 with under six minutes to play.
Pascal Siakam tried going up for a thunderous dunk but JaVale McGee met him at the rim with the open palm of dejection. Pascal apparently kneed JaVale pretty hard in the stomach on that play, which sent McGee to the floor writhing in pain afterward. It was a scary moment for their integral big man, but McGee got up and was ready to go for the next play.
The Lakers had some momentum for a few minutes, but then they proceeded to make horrible turnovers and throw up bricks when Toronto's starters came back in. The Raptors got it back to a 30-point lead, 69-38 with three minutes to play. They were doing the Lakers dirtier than any other team this season. LA ended things on an 11-2 run but the Raptors were still up big time as the first half came to a close, 71-49. Serge Ibaka was running around looking like Wilt Chamberlain thanks to the Lakers putrid D.
Danny Green nailed a soul-deflating three to start the third quarter, but the Lakers got two nice transition buckets and a foul courtesy of Kyle Kuzma for five quick ones. LeBron sunk a fallaway corner three to cut the Raptors lead to 18, 74-56. The Staples Center crowd came back in it too. Things were looking up for the Lakers, and then just like that the Raptors scored six consecutive to push the lead back to 24. They were about to pump the lead back up to 30, but the Lakers got some nice play from their young guys who narrowed it to 22. Kyle Kuzma was having a nice game on offense despite the bad overall Laker play with 16 points of his own.
LeBron hit back-to-back triples to get the lead under 20, 94-75 with 3:30 to go. I was thinking to myself, "If there was any time to take over and start acting like the superstar you are, now's the time LeBron!".
The Raptors lead hovered around 20 in the closing minutes of the third. Luke Walton still decided to stick with a small-ball lineup, which Ibaka continued to feast on en route to 34 points in the game (before the start of the fourth!). Nick Nurse brought in Jonas Valanciunas to further punish the Lakers lack of size. They cut it down to seventeen at one point during the third, but the lead stood at 21 when the penultimate buzzer rang, 101-80 Toronto.
Lakers were getting open looks to start the fourth, but they just weren't converting them. They uncovered some semblance of a rhythm and made it an 18-point game with seven minutes to play in the fourth. LeBron still wasn't back in the game. As we crossed the six-minute mark of the fourth it still remained a 20-point game, and Luke Walton wasn't even letting LeBron back in to play. I don't think LeBron even checked in for the fourth quarter at all in this one. A Lonzo Ball three cut it to a fourteen point game, 114-100 with a little over four minutes remaining. There was a conceivable chance to win this game, but Toronto was bringing all their starters back in that clapped the Lakers earlier on.
It was a 12-point game with under three minutes to go, 117-105. The crowd was on their feet and chanting, pleading the Lakers to play some DEFENSE! Svi then made a driving layup to cut it to a ten point game with only two minutes to play. The Lakers had a huge chance to cut it to eight with a Kuzma drive, but Kyle Lowry stepped up and took a huge charge to regain possession of the ball. I felt like it was over after that giveaway. Kyle Lowry found Serge Ibaka for a shovel pass underneath the hoop and a bucket, which effectively ended the Lakers late rally. Raptors pulled away for the win 121-107.
Just another awful display from the usual Laker suspects: rebounding and defense. The addition of Tyson Chandler should give them some relief in that department, but I don't know if his presence really would've changed the outcome of tonight's game. The Raptors stepped up so big in Kawhi's absence.
LeBron didn't even play in the entire fourth quarter, and I think it could've been because he got benched for his horrific defense. Dude was out here literally with James Harden levels of apathy on the defensive end. I thought that the Lakers would've come out stronger knowing they had a good chance of winning with Kawhi out, but that certainly wasn't the case. Serge Ibaka had a career-high 34 points! Any reliable big man is going to feast on the Lakers all year long.
Something worth considering in tonight's result is the level of continuity in each organization. The Raptors have a new coach this year, but they came into it with so many returning pieces that know how to win together. They're familiar with each other's style of play and it showed in that dominating first half. Half of the Laker's roster is new, they're spearheaded by LeBron James now instead of the young core like last year, and we aren't even ten games deep into the season. Still, seeing them put forth such a shitty effort is undeniably disheartening. As Kobe Bryant once said about a bad game, "Shit game. Flush it. Learn From it. Move on."
They'll get a much-needed three day rest before they take on the Timberwolves at Staples Center on Wednesday night. The Wolves beat the Lakers in a down-to-the-wire contest a week ago, so the Lakeshow will be looking to get revenge on Jimmy and company. Check out the highlights to tonight's stinker below.