Raptors keep hot streak going with commanding win over the Lakers
LOS ANGELES — The game was about five minutes old and Scottie Barnes had done anything he wanted.
A basket on an offensive rebound and putback, a layup, a little six-foot jumper, another layup and another; five shot attempts, five baskets.
It reads like it was easy and in many ways it was: the Raptors were on their way to beating the disinterested and outmanned Los Angeles Lakers thanks to a rousing start to set them on their way.
Barnes finished the first quarter with 15 points, which is impressive, but what’s most telling about the evening is that he outscored the entire Lakers team by three in the period as the Raptors registered a 114-103 victory, their fourth in a row as they’ve buried any memories of a terrible post-all star stretch.
It’s what the Raptors have been doing all season, finding a way out of lulls with stretches of impressive play.
“I’ll give you the most obvious answer in the world here (about how the team gets out of funks) but you don’t start doing cartwheels after big wins and you don’t get too down in the dumps after a bit loss, man,” coach Nick Nurse said before the game.
“Get back to work, learn what you can learn and you try to get to a level where you’re ready to compete. I continue to say, over and over, I’m willing to live with a lot as long as we’re going out there and competing our butts off.”
The Raptors did compete from the tip to rout the Lakers, who are ninth in the West today but far closer to 11th than they are to eighth.
Toronto got 27 points from Pascal Siakam, who toyed with whatever Lakers defender tried to guard him, 27 from Gary Trent Jr. and Barnes finished the night with 21 to begin a Toronto-Los Angeles week.
“Our guys get loosened up with that sunshine and they come out and play,” Nurse joked before the game. “Let’s hope that’s the case here this week. Got an LA-fest this week, Lakers-Clippers-Lakers, Monday-Wednesday-Friday.”
The Barnes-Siakam duo has been devastating of late, able to recognize whatever matchup advantage they have and attack it repeatedly.
It’s hard to describe just how plodding and offensively outgunned the Lakers were and how disinterested they looked at times.
LeBron James, questionable to play because of leg woes right up until game time, did manage to score 30 points and showed some flashes but he also walked back on defence almost as often as he sprinted.
The rest of them were hardly worth worrying about once the game got under way.
The 12 points they scored in the first quarter tied their season low, they missed their first 16 three-pointers and 25 of their first 29 field goal attempts.
Even considering they were playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the effort was dismal.
Meanwhile, the Raptors should get injured forward OG Anunoby back for practice on Tuesday. Anunoby saw the hand specialist here Monday to get his fractured right ring finger examined and even if there’s little change in the diagnosis, Anunoby did go through a full pre-game workout.
“He’s going to maybe try to practice … and see what direction we’re going,” Nurse said. “It’s not dissimilar to where it’s been. There is a slight fracture, still, but we’ve got to make a decision on whether we’re going to move forward and him back in there or just continue to wait.”