The Los Angeles Lakers moved their record to 2-2 Wednesday night when they came back to beat the Washington Wizards in overtime.
Lakers forward Brandon Ingram led the way with 15 second-half points, including the game-tying tip-in layup with 0.7 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime. Lakers head coach Luke Walton praised Ingram, saying that he is developing into the team’s closer.
Things don’t get easier for the Lakers Friday night, as they host another Eastern Conference playoff team in the Toronto Raptors, who hold the same 2-2 record as the Lakers on the season.
After facing one of the best backcourts in the league in John Wall and Bradley Beal, they are now faced with stopping Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan, and that’s where we begin our preview of Friday night’s game:
The Raptors backcourt duo of Lowry and Derozan is one of the most dynamic in the NBA, although Lowry is off to a slow start to the season.
So far Lowry is averaging just 12.8 points and 6.5 assists while shooting 37.5 percent from the field. He may face some challenges against the Lakers and rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, who is six inches taller than him.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who looks to be the Lakers best perimeter defender, will likely be guarding Derozan, who is averaging 23.3 points while shooting 49.2 percent from the field so far this season.
The Lakers have the edge over Toronto in the backcourt off the bench, with Jordan Clarkson and Josh Hart playing at a very high level so far this season. Delon Wright gets most of the guard minutes off the bench for the Raptors while Fred VanVleet may also see some time.
Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas is currently a game-time decision for Friday night, as he is dealing with an ankle injury. Lucas Nogueira is also listed as questionable with an ankle injury.
If neither player is able to go then that would be a big loss for Toronto’s frontcourt, as young guys Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl would likely see increased minutes next to veteran Serge Ibaka and noted defensive stopper Norman Powell, who will likely be matched up with Brandon Ingram.
The Lakers frontcourt is starting to shape into form, with Brook Lopez, Larry Nance Jr. and Ingram in the starting lineup, and Julius Randle and Kyle Kuzma logging a bulk of the minutes off the bench with Andrew Bogut and Corey Brewer also providing leadership and defense toughness when needed.
Randle played just six minutes in the first three quarters against the Wizards but played the last 13 minutes to close the game and played perhaps the best defense of his career. It looks like Randle may be starting to warm up to his role off the bench, and if that’s the case then the Lakers could have a deadly weapon on their hands.
Three Keys To Victory:
Get off to good start: In the Lakers’ last two games they have trailed by double digits and have been forced to come back late. They were able to do it both times, although they ultimately lost to the Pelicans the first time. Instead of playing from down double digits for once, it would be nice to see the Lakers get off to a good start and play with a lead against Toronto.
Focus on defensive end: With the Lakers, it is not a question of talent on the defensive end of the floor, but rather focus and effort. Guys like Randle, Clarkson and Ingram all have the skills to be good defenders, it’s just a matter of working together as a unit.
Knock down shots: Lonzo Ball has an ability to find open shooters, but the Lakers currently rank 25th in the NBA, knocking down threes at just a 32.3 percent clips. Making two or three more of those three-point attempts per game could be the difference in winning and losing for this team.
Los Angeles Lakers (2-2) Vs. Toronto Raptors (2-2)
7:30 P.M. PST, October 27, 2017
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/ 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Larry Nance Jr.
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Andrew Bogut, Corey Brewer
Projected Raptors Starting Lineup:
PG: Kyle Lowry
SG: DeMar Derozan
SF: Norman Powell
PF: Serge Ibaka
C: Jonas Valanciunas
Key Reserves: C.J. Miles, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl, Delon Wright, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet