Raptors stumbles into Lakers: Two sorry foes meet


Good news for the Toronto Raptors: the Los Angeles Lakers are not quite the same anymore. This notoriously successful and proud franchise finds itself deep in an awkward rebuild. In the NBA draft, they selected D’Angelo Russell rather than two skilled big men (because they grow on trees). He is still too young to make an impact at point guard, the hardest position in the league, but he is learning. The most emerging players for the Lakers are 2014 first-round pick, Julius Randle, and second-round pick, Jordan Clarkson. Oh yes, the youth movement is on.

Kobe Bryant is (hardly) enjoying what is most likely his last season in the league. After 20 breathtaking years in the league, he is slowing and aging at an accelerated pace. But don’t think that has stopped him from getting his shots up. Michael Pina of Bleacher Report outlined a whole slew of problems for the Lake Show, such as:

  • Lakers are 28th in offensive rating
  • League high shooting contested 3’s (at 9 a night)
  • They shoot the same amount of corner 3’s as mid range jumpers

Statistics dating from November 17th.

There are more issues discussed in the article, but the point is it is not good.

Nov 18, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) grabs a rebound in the second quarter against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Who says everything is good in Raptor land? They have lost 3 games in a row on their western road trip in which they held leads in each of them. The end of the game offence is stagnant and the defence ain’t much to sniff at. Both teams are looking to get back on track this evening.

Three keys to victory

Don’t let shooters get hot

The Lakers shoot a remarkable 31.4% of their shots from three point land. With streaky shooters such as Nick Young, Kobe Bryant, and D’Angelo Russell, the last thing you need is one of them getting hot from down town. Nick Young especially is a human slingshot, and sometimes there is fire coming out of his hands.

Luckily, the Lakers shoot much of their shots contested from three and are hitting only 32.%.

No Kobe Bryant shenanigans

Kobe’s eyes typically light up when he sees the Raptors. Throughout his career, he averages his second highest PPG in 31 appearances at 27.7 points. Yes, there is this, and that, but he is a much different player and one more of these instances would be the ultimate embarrassment.

Close out, finish strong

The Raptors offence toward the end of games could be better. DeMar DeRozan will generally try to will his way, but the isolation is never healthy. Quite honestly, most NBA teams play this style at end of games, it’s just they have more success on the offence and hold it together on the defensive end. The Raptors are still figuring it out in the early going.

Oct 8, 2015; Ontario, CA, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Terrence Ross (31) guards Los Angeles Lakers forward Nick Young (0) in the second half of the game at Citizens Business Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Key Players

LAL: D’Angelo Russell; the rookie has been good for a 19 year old, but not great. The key to the future and success will be this man. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen tonight.

TOR: Jonas Valanciunas; going up the big man Roy Hibbert has always given JV fits. After struggling against Rudy Gobert in Utah, he needs to come out as a force


People will still come and watch the Lakers for Kobe Bryant (why else?) and there will be a large showing of Canadians!

(By the way, my predictions have been wildly inaccurate thus far, c’est la vie)

Next: Casey on this ice?

Graeme Klayh is a Staff Writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.