The Los Angeles Lakers (2-9) return home after a short trip to Phoenix, in which they suffered a fourth quarter meltdown in the 120-101 loss to the Suns. Now they look to get back on track tonight at Staples Center as they welcome the Toronto Raptors (7-6).
A well-rested Kobe Bryant returns to the lineup after missing the trip to Phoenix due to his team-high 35 minutes versus Detroit on Sunday.
Despite the rough ending to last game, the Lakers got solid contributions from Jordan Clarkson’s 20 points and Roy Hibbert, who finished the game with 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting and seven rebounds.
Toronto made waves in free agency this year by signing the highly-coveted DeMarre Carroll away from the Atlanta Hawks. His numbers certainly haven’t taken a hit as he is averaging 12 points and four rebounds per game, roughly the same as when he was with the Hawks.
Alongside Carroll is the first-rounder from Lithuania, Jonas Valanciunas and the always steady Luis Scola. Most remember Scola from those heated playoff duels against the Houston Rockets between 2008-2011. Meanwhile, Valanciunas is having his best season, posting career-highs with 13 points and nine rebounds per game to this point.
The Raptors boast one of the most electrifying backcourts in the entire league in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Each possess the ability to score from anywhere on the court, but are also great playmakers capable of getting the team involved.
Even their stats are eerily similar, DeRozan leads the team in scoring with 21 per game, while Lowry is second with 20 per game. Lowry being the point guard he leads the team with six assists per game, while DeRozan is second with four per game. Needless to say, it will be exciting to see how Clarkson and Russell fare against dynamic 1-2 punch.
Keys To Victory:
Don’t Lose Focus on Defense: Just when the Lakers seemed to improving on the defensive side of the ball, they take a step back by allowing a huge game. It was the first game that Roy Hibbert didn’t record a single block. After holding their last two opponents to under 100 points, they allowed the Suns to explode for 120. Although the Suns are one of the better offenses in the league, allowing 120 in a game can be credited to a lack of focus on the defensive end.
Win Rebounding Battle: Lakers rebounding was atrocious this last game against Phoenix. Suns outrebounded the Lakers 55-41, and to make matters even worse, 18 of them were offensive rebounds. Los Angeles gave Phoenix way too many second chances for points and the Suns made them pay for it. If the Lakers don’t get on the boards early, Valunciunas and the hustle of Scola will give Toronto plenty of opportunities at second-chance points.
Continue Taking High-Percentage Shots: Despite the Lakers faltering late in the game, the offense was actually surprisingly efficient. As a team, the purple and gold shot nearly 50 percent going 37-of-77 from the field. And although they tend to let it fly from deep, they shot well last game as they hit nearly half their threes, going 9-of-20 from behind-the-arc. One factor they must improve on is setting each other up with easy buckets. Hibbert led the team with three assists last game, and it is never a good sign when the center is leading your team in assists.
Los Angeles Lakers (2-9) vs. Toronto Raptors (7-6)
7:30 PM PST, November 19, 2015
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN (English)/ 1330 (Spanish)
Raptors Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Kyle Lowry
SG: DeMar DeRozan
SF: DeMarre Carroll
PF: Luis Scola
C: Jonas Valunciunas
Key Reserves: PG Cory Joseph, SF James Johnson, PF Patrick Patterson
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Jordan Clarkson
SF: Kobe Bryant
PF: Julius Randle
C: Roy Hibbert
Key Reserves: SG Lou Williams, SF Nick Young, PF Larry Nance Jr.