The Los Angeles Lakers lost 123-111 to the Toronto Raptors in a game both teams would like to forget. In a long season these games happen. On the upside Los Angeles still has a four game win streak in the continental United States.
The Lakers lost every quarter and struggled to find an offensive rhythm. On a team where average shooting is great shooting, a bad shooting night is deadly. Julius Randle ended the game with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists. Jordan Clarkson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Larry Nance, Jr. all ended up in the teens and that just about wraps up the highlights of Laker offense.
Alex Caruso had the highlight of the night when he drove the lane for a two handed dunk. Caruso continues to make a case for more minutes and a contract upgrade when his Two-Way deal expires. To the great chagrin of fans many of those minutes are still going to Tyler Ennis.
For the Raptors, they brought just enough game to win. Toronto, a top five team both offensively (109.5 Offensive Rating) and defensively (102.7 Defensive Rating), the game was theirs from the start. The Lakers did give up 25 points in a career scoring night to former World War I general Fredrick VanVleet. Aside from that, most Raptor players went home with a participation trophy.
The Lakers did not play a good game, but they did not give up. They battled for most of the game before ultimately losing out in the 4th quarter. To beat the Raptors a team needs to be able to make threes and trade them for Toronto layups and jumpshots. The Lakers simply did not have the shooting to keep up with the number two team in the Eastern Conference.
Moving forward, we are about 10 days away from the trade deadline. The Lakers have chosen not to bring back Nigel Hayes after his 10 day contract expires. Jordon Clarkson and Julius Randle have continued strong performances and it remains to be seen if that has improved their stock in the eyes of GMs around the league.
Unsourced expectation is that Ennis time on the Lakers may be coming to an end, either through trade or release. That may perhaps shed some light on the Alex Caruso situation moving forward. Whether or not that is the case, the Lakers need a back-up point guard when Lonzo gets back. Look for some resolution to that question in the coming weeks.
Next up the Lakers face the Orlando Magic in Florida on Wednesday. At 19=30 we should expect Los Angeles to finish strong, threatening 30 wins in a step back towards league relevance.