Three takeaways from shorthanded Toronto Raptors win over Lakers

Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

In their first game without Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, the Toronto Raptors still found a way to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers. What did we learn from the shorthanded win?

What an impressive win. The Toronto Raptors didn’t have all their pieces against LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and a Los Angeles Lakers team which hasn’t lost a game since opening night. It didn’t matter. Toronto fought, clawed, and scrapped their way to a victory.

The Lakers controlled most of the contest. They jumped out to an 11-point lead faster than you could say “where are Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry?” However, from that point forward, the Raptors started to pull it together, particularly defensively.

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The Raptors posted a 98.7 defensive rating during the final three quarters. The Lakers shot just 44-percent from the field and 33-percent from behind the arc during the contest. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but when you’re playing without two starters, you take the wins how you can get them.

The Toronto Raptors took care of business for their most impressive victory of the season. So what stood out?

The bench dominates

With Lowry and Ibaka out, the question was less about if the starters could remain as productive, but instead about the players who filled the end of the rotation. Well, just one game in, they’ve been absolutely amazing.

Matt Thomas was good with five points on 2-3 shooting, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was better 10 points on 4-6 shooting, but let’s be honest folks, this was the Chris Boucher and Terence Davis show!

We’ve been wondering what Boucher could do with more time on the court, and last night gave us a glimpse. He blocked shots; he scored inside; he launched up some triples. Nick Nurse deployed him at both power forward and center, and during his 24 minutes on the floor, he absolutely looked like he belonged.

And as that was happening, the group of us on Terence Davis mountain increased significantly.  Davis was fantastic, scoring 13 points on eight shots, grabbing five rebounds, and dishing three dimes. You couldn’t have asked for anything else.

Boucher, Davis, and Hollis-Jefferson combined for 24 of the Raptors 35 points in the fourth quarter. They weren’t adequate during their time on the court. They were the reason the Raptors won the game.

Get out and run

The Raptors struggled to execute in the halfcourt offensively. The Lakers roll out a Godzilla sized frontcourt and have been one of the best defensive teams in the NBA so far this season. Without Lowry to run the show and generate open looks, you’d expect Toronto to struggle in the halfcourt. In this game, they averaged an offensive rating of under 89 during those possessions (according to cleaningtheglass).

They managed to scrape together 113 points in this game by running the floor and pushing the pace. The Raptors scored 32 fastbreak points, compared to the Lakers measly eight.  According to Cleaningtheglass, Toronto 25-percent of Toronto’s possessions came via transition. On those plays, they posted an offensive rating of greater than 145.

Over the next month, the Raptors will be attempting to manufacture points in whatever way possible. It may not be to this extreme, but expect Toronto to continue to push it.

Weight of the world on Pascal

Pascal Siakam took 25 shots in 42 minutes on Sunday night. He posted a 31.3-percent usage and was relied on to initiate the offense whenever he was on the floor. Lowry and Ibaka ranked 2nd and 3rd on the team in usage. While they’re gone, Pascal is going to carry a heavy load.

Siakam was inefficient during this game, posting a below-average scoring efficiency and turning it over three times. It’s hard to blame him. The Lakers are one of the best defensive teams in the league, and when you’re asked to do everything, it’s hard to remain effective. Don’t be shocked to see Pascal’s counting numbers go up as his efficiency drops during the next month.

However, when the Raptors needed him most, in the fourth quarter, Siakam went 3-6, scored seven points, and iced the game.

Next. Who's going to play with Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry out?. dark

Next, the Toronto Raptors will face Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers. Make sure to check out the grades and takeaways after the game at Raptors Rapture.