The Los Angeles Lakers (0-2) looked to bounce back after dropping both games in Hawaii, as they returned to the mainland Thursday night to square off against the Toronto Raptors (1-1) at nearby Citizens Bank Arena.
Although they came up short in a nail-biting 117-114 loss to the Utah Jazz in overtime, Laker fans were enticed by a team that showed passion and energy along with a few dazzling plays. A fired up front court in Julius Randle and Roy Hibbert helped combat the the Jazz’s highly efficient guard play.
With D’Angelo Russell out with a bruised glute, the Lakers would need the solid play of their big men to continue as they attempt to finish out the game strong and come away with their first preseason victory.
The Lakers started off the game similarly to last game with Kobe hitting a soft jumper from just inside the three-point line, that was quickly followed by a floater from Jordan Clarkson. Kobe started to get it going with back-to-back dimes to Nick Young and Clarkson as the Lakers quickly took a 10-2 lead. After a Raptors timeout, Toronto answered back with 7-0 run of their own. Julius Randle got into foul trouble midway through the quarter giving way to Larry Nance and Robert Upshaw to see work early on. Upshaw made his presence known early with a wide open dunk on a nice pass from Lou Williams to put the Lakers up 17-13. Meanwhile, Toronto kept themselves in the game by being aggressive on the boards, recording four offensive rebounds in the the first quarter to the Lakers’ zero. Propelling the Raptos ahead of the Lkers after a three-pointer by DeMarre Carrol to put them ahead. Williams finally got the purple and gold back on the board with a jumper to end the quarter with Toronto up 30-27.
Jabari Brown looked to get out of his shooting slump by hitting a three-pointer to open up the quarter. Upshaw then flexed his wing span with a thunderous block on Cory Joseph’s attempted lay-up. Randle finally got on the board with a jumper to bring the Lakers within one 35-34. Kobe started to find his rhythm after hitting both of his free throws followed by a jumper off a clean pass from Hibbert to put the Lakers ahead by one. Terrance Ross took over the offensive workload by hitting a jumper and following it up with a three-pointer to tie it up at 40 midway through the second quarter. Toronto retook the lead with a three-pointer from Kyle Lowry on an assist from Carroll. Clarkson answered back with a three of his own that hit nothing but the bottom of the net. Nance recorded his first bucket of the game as he went right around Patrick Patterson for the easy lay-up to put as the Lakers slimmed the lead 57-53. The Raptors made the most out of their opportunities at the free-throw line going 9-10 in the second quarter as they went ahead 59-53 at halftime.
Julius Randle came out on fire to begin the second half, finishing at the rim and hitting jump shots to bring the score to 61-57. However, Lowry responded with his third three-pointer of the game. Kobe got his first bucket in the half hitting a three on a nice pass from Clarkson. Lowry started to catch fire after sinking a leaner from the three-point line. Clarkson started getting his teammates involved with a couple of delicious dimes to Roy Hibbert and Kobe to cut the lead 75-68. The Lakers started to build momentum with a spectacular play from Randle going behind-the-back before hitting Kobe with a nice pass on the wing to finish the play with a three-pointer. However Lowry would continue his dominant performance scoring the Raptors last nine points as they extended their lead 81-74. Upshaw continued to be active on the floor getting rebounds and recording his third bucket of the nice on the dish from Metta World Peace. The Raptors continued to stay ahead after a lay-up from Joseph put them ahead 86-76 to end the third quarter.
Lou Williams got the fourth quarter started with a three in the corner cutting Raptors’ lead to seven. Rookie Jonathan Holmes attempted to get on the board for the first time, but was blocked leading to a fastbreak for Toronto. Raptors failed to capitalize. Williams cut the lead to seven again with his 14th point. Cory Joseph counters with a three. Metta World Peace headed to the line and knocked down both shots. Bismack Biyombo hit one of two free throws extending Toronto’s lead to nine. Jabari Brown split a pair of free throws. Joseph drove the basket with ease and finished at the rim while drawing the foul. Missed the free throw. Anthony Bennett connected on a jumper putting the Raptors ahead by double digits, 96-84. Metta knocked down a couple of free throws. Holmes headed to the charity stripe and hit both. Lakers down eight. Bennett threw down a monster jam to get the lead back up to 10 for Toronto. Williams hit one of two free throws with about four minutes left to go. World Peace made his way to the basket with ease and finished with a clean layup. Joseph back to the line for two. Made the first, missed the second. Holmes grabbed his fifth rebound and scored quickly. Joseph got on the board again with another bucket. Williams countered with a layup of his own. Williams connected on another jumper improving his total to 19 points cutting the lead to four. Holmes got a huge block on Joseph, but Raptors kept possession which was finished off by Norman Powell. Joseph continued to dominate the Lakers reserves hitting another jumper. Lakers lose third straight preseason game, 105-97.