It’s onto L.A. for the final two contests of this six game road trip.
The Raptors (37-30, 7th in East) and Lakers (29-38, 9th in West) face each other for the first time this season. Staples (yes it’s Crypto.com arena but I still call Rogers Centre the Skydome so sue me) has been a sanctuary for Toronto. The Raps haven’t lost to the Lakers in L.A since November 30th 2014 and that game needed overtime. Even the acquisition of nemesis LeBron James hasn’t stopped the Raptors from winning six straight.
Chasing Cleveland to escape the play-in tournament appeared dead in the water a week ago, but all of a sudden Toronto is one game back after three straight wins. The Cavs host a pesky Clippers team so a tie at the end of the night is not unrealistic.
Meanwhile the Lakers are freefalling with 10 losses in their last 13 games, which doesn’t seem to matter because nobody in the lower half of the Western Conference seems to want the final two play-in spots. L.A. is also on the second night of a back to back, coming off a disastrous effort in Phoenix where they allowed 48 first quarter points. How bad is that exactly? It’s a franchise worst in the shot clock era. That dates back to the mid 50’s folks. It got worse because the Suns also scored a season-best 79 at the half, and reached 119 by the end of the third for the first time since 2009.
Player to Watch
If he plays, it’s clearly this guy.
Frank Vogel says LeBron James will play tonight against Phoenix and then see how he feels tomorrow ahead of the Toronto game.
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) March 13, 2022
LeBron has scored over 50 points twice in his last five games, which is the only reason the Lake Show has a 3-10 instead of 1-12 in their last 13. He dropped 50 against Washington on Friday and hung 56 vs Golden State three games prior. Since the all-star break, the Lakers are winless (0-7) when The King doesn’t score 50. LeBron trails Joel Embiid by the slightest of margins for the scoring title, which would make James the oldest player in NBA history to achieve that. Michael Jordan’s 1997-98 season at 35 years old currently holds the record.
Also LeBron became only the seventh player to eclipse the 10,000 assist mark vs Phoenix, the lone bright spot for the Lakers. He’s still capable of beating the Raptors by himself, which would only bring back trauma and a certain word Mark Jones invented that I won’t repeat.
Despite all of this, it’s fair to say James appears to be demoralized by this disaster Lakers season at times. See for yourself against the Suns just minutes in.
1. LeBron isn’t on the screen
2. LeBron doesn’t close out
3. LeBron jogs to the paint & doesn’t go for rebound
4. LeBron isn’t on the screen pic.twitter.com/uDUFdJqxtC
— Jake Reetz (@jajareetz) March 14, 2022
"We've seen LeBron James quite a few times tonight just decide he's not gonna run back on defense." pic.twitter.com/WLobLwU8xT
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) March 14, 2022
On the Raptors side, Pascal Siakam had a whale of a game in his last Lakers visit. 39 points (15-26 FG), 13 boards, four assists, two steals and two blocks. That was also the last time Kyle Lowry suited up as a Raptor.
Tip-Off: 10:30pm EDT | TV: Sportsnet | Radio: Sportsnet 590
Toronto Raptors Results, Lineups & Injuries
Los Angeles Lakers Results, Lineups & Injuries
My over/under prediction (13-12 this season): The Lakers just gave up 140 points in Phoenix. They haven’t allowed under 100 since February 2nd vs Portland, which was 15 games ago and included Anthony Davis who is still out. Extremely comfortable with the over. There is still more cushion to fall in the West without jeopardizing a play-in spot. Probably another lackluster effort from L.A, especially on a back to back. Four straight road W’s for Toronto.
Raptors 124, Lakers 110