Lakers [19-29] at Raptors [32-15]: Preview & 3 keys to victory

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope /

The Raptors began their 3-game homestand with a shabby loss to Utah. Can they bounce back against the young and talented Lakers?

Following a profoundly disappointing defeat at the hands of the Utah Jazz, the Toronto Raptors need to pull themselves together. The Los Angeles Lakers are at the Air Canada Centre, and they are just talented enough to beat anyone.

On Friday night, the Raptors shot like your friends do at a lunchtime pickup game. They won’t beat anybody like that. When the All-Star backcourt ends the night 9 for 36 from the floor, and Jonas Valanciunas makes more 3-balls, the world is out of alignment.

Anyway, the Lakers have a bunch of kids who can be brilliant or downright bad, and there’s no way to know which squad will show up. Adding to the uncertainty is the question of whether heralded rookie guard Lonzo Ball will play. He’s listed as “doubtful” with a knee injury; I can’t imagine the Lakers taking a chance with someone so valuable. With four straight victories, they haven’t missed him.

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Their other rookie of significant note is late-draft steal Kyle Kuzma. He leads the Lakers with 16.5 points per game [PG], and will be a tough cover for Serge Ibaka. Kuzma is shooting 37.8% from deep, which is higher than his team’s rate of 32.7. That’s the NBA’s worst, though the Lakers aren’t deterred by their lack of success. They try 27.8 PG, or 19th-most.

LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 27: Julius Randle
LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 27: Julius Randle /

Tyler Ennis will start at the point, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is his partner. KCP has never been my kind of player. He doesn’t do anything terribly well, but he’s making huge money regardless. For Ennis, this game is a homecoming as he’s from nearby Brampton.

Brook Lopez, who just finished defeating his twin Robin in Chicago, is a strong veteran center likely to give JV fits at both ends of the floor.

The forwards are Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle. Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. will come off the bench. They are both highly competent youngsters who will make the Lakers better sooner than later.

3 keys to Raptors victory

  1. Make some shots. Not much else matters. The Raptors defense was acceptable against the Jazz. Even leaving Ricky Rubio alone at the end was an acceptable risk. We haven’t had to suffer through two straight games of misses from everywhere. Let’s hope today isn’t the first instance.
  2. Play them loose. I’d rather take the chance that they can’t hit their threes than to give up the paint. The Jazz was getting inside almost at will, which put pressure on JV to defend. Not surprisingly, he got in foul trouble.
  3. Continue to feed JV. He’s showing a better handle, and I was intrigued to see him in the corner against Utah. We have to keep showing new looks on offense.


The Raptors were due for a bad game, but the one against the Jazz was particularly galling. I don’t want to believe there’s another one in the forecast, so I’ll pick our guys. We’re in the NBA’s version of baseball’s dog days – anything is possible. The Raptors won the first game in October, and we can do it again.

Toronto 105 – LA Lakers 94