After a horrendous showing against the Dallas Mavericks last week, the Los Angeles Lakers started 2016 with a much better performance. Though they eventually fell 123-114, the Purple and Gold hung in until the bitter end against the second-best team in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors.
LAL started the game on fire with Nick Young in particular launching meteors from behind the arc. As the Raptors ended the first and started the second quarter with a lineup featuring only DeMar DeRozan with four bench players, the Lakers were able to go on a run, eventually holding a double-digit lead.
That lead evaporated by halftime, however, as Kyle Lowry as well as DeRozan lit the the Lakers up and repeatedly got to the free throw line.
The second half featured much of the same. The Raptors best lineup all year of Lowry and four bench players (with Jakob Poeltl substituted for the injured Patrick Patterson) extended Toronto’s lead early in the fourth quarter, up to 19 points with six minutes to play.
While the Lakers looked dead in the water, that was hardly the case. Young continued his onslaught from behind the arc, draining three after three. D’Angelo Russell joined the fun in the fourth quarter with a scoring outburst of his own, recording 14 of his 28 points in the final period. The team’s starting backcourt finished the game with a combined 54 points on 17-32 shooting (13-21 from three).
In the end, the effort from Russell and Randle in the fourth was not enough to erase the Raptors’ lead. But there were plenty of positives outside of the two backcourt partners.
Julius Randle stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. He did not shoot the ball well but got to the free throw line ten times.
Luke Walton found himself another frontcourt combination with the return of Tarik Black. The center joined forces with Thomas Robinson to crush the Raptors on the boards late in the first quarter and into the second. The two combined for 21 points and 18 rebounds in 21 total minutes.
Brandon Ingram did this:
This is just pretty. pic.twitter.com/Vq9yJHffvH
— Gary Kester (@garykester) January 2, 2017
— Lakers Outsiders (@LakersOutsiders) January 2, 2017
Unfortunately all these performances were not enough as the Lakers could not control Lowry (41 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists) and DeRozan (31 points, 3 assists).
As a new initiative, we’d like to show you what some Raptors bloggers and reporters tweeted about the Lakers:
And of course, the fan takeaways: