Raptors 102 – Lakers 91: victory with a high price


The Toronto Raptors used a Q4 surge to shake free of the Los Angeles Lakers, and end a three-game losing streak. While we breathe a sigh of relief for a much-needed win, our happiness is considerably darkened by an injury suffered to Jonas Valanciunas late in the second quarter. Our starting centre was whacked en passant by Kobe Bryant, and suffered a broken bone in his left hand. JV is out, though for how long is unknown as of this writing.

Kyle Lowry led the way for the Raptors, on a night when they couldn’t manage many points in the paint but were deadly from distance. Our little point guard drained seven 3-balls (and no 2s!) while six mates added eight more. With five assists against one turnover, and three steals, Kyle was the difference-maker.

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JV’s forced departure late in Q2 forced the Raptors to improvise, and to lean more heavily on the rotation players. Fortunately, they were up to the task. The obvious answer is Bismack Biyombo, but he only saw 15+ minutes of action. Instead, Dwane Casey cobbled together a quartet which the Lakers couldn’t handle. Patrick Patterson and Cory Joseph (another fine outing, with 11 points and 6 assists) were both plus_21 versus the youthful Lake Show. DeMarre Carroll, who struggled in the first half, found his stroke. While Terrence Ross’ return after missing six games (also with a left-hand injury, oddly enough) wasn’t spectacular, he chipped in 8 points and didn’t look lost on defense. The smurfs of the rotation carved out a 16-point bulge midway through Q4. When Kobe Bryant and his mates clawed back to within six, Toronto’s first unit returned well-rested, and kept the home team at bay. DeMar DeRozan’s wonderful spinning slash to the bucket, and a Carroll floater high off glass, were twin daggers.

While the Raptors committed a few embarrassing turnovers, losing the ball wasn’t a huge problem this night. Nor did our team suffer another crummy first quarter; the Raptors led by six after 12 minutes. To their credit, the Raptors didn’t miss JV on the boards, outrebounding LA by nine in the second half.

Nov 20, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Roy Hibbert (right) posts up on Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (left) during the second quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers have a slew of talented young players, and I suspect they will be back to .500 within two seasons. The legend that is Kobe still has game, but his legs are betraying him. He logged 37+ minutes, which is folly, but the Lakers are playing to the crowd. He should announce his retirement, and enjoy a victory lap around the NBA’s arenas. Such news would be greeted with immense relief by Lakers management, although they would never admit it.

Not our problem, though what to do while JV is on the shelf certainly qualifies. The road trip ends on Sunday against the Clippers, and presumably Biyombo will start. Whether he finishes is quite another matter. If the small ball lineup Casey used to secure this Lakers victory still has some magic, we may enjoy an exciting battle against the other, and better, Los Angeles team.

Next: Fixing Raptors' offense

Brian Boake is Senior Editor 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.