Photo Credit: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images
The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 110-101 at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Tuesday night in a battle between the NBA’s last two champions.
Talen Horton-Tucker led the Lakers in scoring with 17 points. Former Raptor Marc Gasol had a strong showing, scoring 13 points and grabbing nine rebounds on six-for-nine shooting.
Pascal Siakam spurred Toronto’s comeback effort, leading the Raptors with 27 points. Chris Boucher broke out of his recent offensive funk and contributed 19 points and eight rebounds, while Aron Baynes had a refreshing performance, scoring nine points and securing six boards.
Los Angeles scored 40 points in the first quarter and never looked back, cruising comfortably through the rest of the game. Dribble penetration by the likes of Dennis Schroder and Talen Horton-Tucker cleared up open looks on the perimeter, with shooters reluctant to miss. The Lakers ended the night shooting an impressive 45 percent from three.
Toronto, meanwhile, struggled to move the ball and generate any sort of rhythm offensively. Missing their top ball handlers in Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, much of the playmaking responsibilities fell on the relatively inexperienced shoulders of DeAndre’ Bembry and rookie Malachi Flynn. The Raptors only recorded 17 assists, compared to the Lakers’ 29.
It was a poor shooting night for Toronto, hitting only 39.6 percent of their field goals and an atrocious 5-for-33 from beyond the arc. It was always going to be a challenge for this shorthanded Raptors squad, facing the league’s second-best defence.
OG Anunoby and Montrezl Harrell were ejected after an altercation near the end of the first quarter, making matters worse for the already-thin Raptors lineup.
This was the Lakers’ first win against the Raptors since 2014, when a Kobe Bryant triple-double led Los Angeles to an overtime win at Staples Center.
Rodney Hood, Jalen Harris, Patrick McCaw and Paul Watson missed the game due to injury along with VanVleet and Lowry.
The Lakers managed to earn the victory despite missing superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Recent buyout-market acquisition Andre Drummond sat out due to an injury as well.
Toronto will rest on Wednesday after back-to-back games, before they face the Chicago Bulls at home on Thursday night.