January 28, 2018, 6:00 am
The Lakers (19-29) head to Toronto on Sunday for a showdown with the Raptors (32-15).
Los Angeles is in the midst of a hot streak, winning eight of their past 10 games and four in a row. They will be in for a serious challenge as the Raptors have the second-best home record in the NBA at 17-4.
The Lakers’ recent improvement in play is largely on the merit of their defense — their defensive rating during their 10-game stretch is fourth in the league at 100.2 points per 100 possessions. This improvement is no accident as defense has been the main focus of the players and coaching staff.
Los Angeles recently found out that rookie point guard Lonzo Ball does not just have a sore knee, but that he has been officially diagnosed with a sprained MCL, an injury that carries a 1-3 week timetable for recovery. He will not be available for Sunday’s contest.
In his stead, several Lakers have stepped up to help spark this current win-streak. Leading the way have been Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Ingram. The latter carried the Lakers in their 108-103 victory over the Bulls, contributing 25 points, nine rebounds, five assists and one steal while shooting 10-of-18 from the field. He showed leadership and poise throughout the game, improved touch on his mid-range jump shot and made several clutch plays down the stretch to seal the Laker win.
However, one interesting development for the Lakers is the growth of rookie point guard Alex Caruso. He has provided Los Angeles with a stabilizing force off the bench, playing competitive defense and giving the Lakers a much-needed edge. It was recently pointed out that the Lakers have not lost a game in which Caruso plays at least 18 minutes.
The main challenge for the Lakers will be stifling the Raptors backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan, a Los Angeles native, is having a career-year and was recently selected to be an All-Star starter. Statistically he is having a tremendous campaign averaging 24.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.2 steals while shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 82.2 percent from the line.
- The recently improved Laker defense will have its hands full with the Raptors’ offense, a prolific scoring unit averaging 110.9 points per game (4th). In comparison, the Lakers score 106.6 points per game (9th), an impressive total in their own right.
- One of the major differences between the two teams is their ability to convert at the line as the Lakers are last in the league (68.6 percent) vs. the Raptors who make 79.8 percent of their freebies (3rd).
- Free throw shooting will be particularly crucial in this game as both teams foul with great regularity, the Raptors leading the way at 22.3 fouls per game (4th) and the Lakers right behind them with 21.9 fouls per game (6th).
- Part of the recent success for the Lakers has been their ability to limit their turnovers as they have only committed 8.3 turnovers per game, best in the NBA during that span. For the season they average 16.1 turnovers per game (29th) vs. 13.7 turnovers per game (5th) for the Raptors.
- The Lakers’ ability to get out and run is vital as they struggle in their half-court offense. On the season they average 17.4 fast break points per game (2nd) and during their four-game win streak they are even better with 21.3 fast break points per game. Toronto is also quite good at running as they average 13.9 fast break points per game (6th).
Projected Starting Rosters
Tyler Ennis (PG)
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG)
Brandon Ingram (SF)
Julius Randle (PF)
Brook Lopez (C)
Kyle Lowry (PG)
DeMar DeRozan (SG)
OG Anunoby (SF)
Serge Ibaka (PF)
Jonas Valanciunas (C)
Lonzo Ball (knee sprain) – OUT
Time: 3:00 PM PST, 6:00 PM EST
Television: TSN 4/5, SPECSN/SPECD
Radio: TSN RADIO 1050 TORONTO, 710 AM ESPN, 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES
November 15, 2019, 1:25 amPaul MillsapPF, Denver Nuggets
Paul Millsap had a throwback game on Thursday, scoring 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting with nine rebounds, two assists and two triples.
Millsap continues to turn back the clock with his performances and he did so in only 27 minutes tonight. This is all with Jerami Grant (12 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two triples) also providing value. Mason Plumlee (10 points, seven rebounds and two assists) was actually vital in tonight's double-digit deficit comeback. The main guy to own right now is Millsap, but beware of his mileage.
November 15, 2019, 1:25 amTaurean PrinceSF, Brooklyn Nets
Tauren Prince had an inefficient night shooting the ball on Thursday, going 5-for-15 from the floor on his way to 12 points with eight rebounds, two assists and two triples.
Prince should be able to churn out some standard-league value while Caris LeVert (thumb) is sidelined for the next few weeks. He won't be as good as he was on the Hawks. but the points, triples and steals are still there and he's a top-90 player so far this year.
November 15, 2019, 1:24 amJoe HarrisSF, Brooklyn Nets
Joe Harris scored nine points on 4-of-11 shooting with three rebounds, a steal and a 3-pointer on Thursday.
Harris was held to only nine points tonight and only attempted three shots from deep. He should be much better on the next one and while he won't light up the scoreboard, the triples should come at a higher rate.
November 15, 2019, 1:15 amNikola JokicC, Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets to their 101-93 win over the Nets on Thursday with 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting to go with 10 rebounds, three assists and two 3-pointers.
Jokic's line is still under what he usually delivers and again, we're preaching patience here. He always takes a bit of time to warm up and there's no doubt in our minds that he'll be due for a top-15 finish.
November 15, 2019, 1:14 amWill BartonSG, Denver Nuggets
Will Barton played a game-high 38 minutes on Thursday, scoring 17 points on 8-of-17 shooting with six rebounds and four assists.
Barton had another solid night scoring the ball and the Nuggets offense should have enough usage for him to provide some decent value. The Nuggets are actually sputtering on offense, ranked 22th in ORTG on the year and they'll need Barton to continue to be himself on offense.
November 15, 2019, 1:13 amMalik BeasleySG, Denver Nuggets
Malik Beasley sat out Thursday's game vs. the Nets with an illness.
Beasley sitting gave more time for Monte Morris (19 minutes, 10 points, three rebounds, seven assists, a steal and a triple) and it's a known fact that Morris is standard-league value when he gets enough time. It's just a short-term injury though, so Beasley should be re-inserted again soon.
November 15, 2019, 1:12 amJamal MurrayPG, Denver Nuggets
Jamal Murray had an awful game on Thursday, scoring four points on 1-of-11 shooting to go with five rebounds, four assists, a steal and a 3-pointer.
Murray was getting all of the attention and collapsed on every time he drove in the paint. He's prone to some shooting slumps like this, but as we've seen before, he busts out of them in a huge way.
November 15, 2019, 1:11 amGary HarrisSG, Denver Nuggets
Gary Harris filled up the stat sheet on Thursday, scoring ten points on 4-of-7 shooting with seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, a block and two triples.
Harris's line was exactly what owners should be seeking. He got it done across the board and hit his triples. The top-40 days are long gone, but Harris is more than serviceable for standard leagues as the main man in Denver at shooting guard.
November 15, 2019, 1:10 amKyrie IrvingPG, Brooklyn Nets
Kyrie Irving scored 17 points on 8-of-20 shooting to go with six rebounds, nine assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in Thursday's 93-101 loss to the Nuggets.
Irving couldn't get his shot to fall in the second half, but he still delivered on the dimes tonight. He's still one of the top players in the league and if a slow stretch can pry open even the smallest buy-low window, you have to pounce on it. The only warning sign is his health as he played through a shoulder injury today.
November 15, 2019, 1:09 amJarrett AllenC, Brooklyn Nets
Jarret Allen scored 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and a block on Thursday.
Allen had a monster game, contesting almost every shot in the paint, but the Nets just couldn't keep things going in the second half. He's clearly the better player between he and DeAndre Jordan (17 minutes, zero points, 11 rebounds, three assists and a block) and it's good to see the minutes reflect that.