Depleted Raptors Stun Lakers in a Wild Sunday Night in Hollywood
No Kyle Lowry. No Serge Ibaka.
The 6-2 Toronto Raptors rolled into Hollywood and pulled out a stunning victory over the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.
With Lowry shutdown for the next two weeks after suffering a left thumb fracture and Ibaka inactive as he sat courtside with his teammates rocking a brace over his sprained ankle, the undermanned Raptors were able to stick toe-to-toe with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers throughout the first three quarters, before pulling out a statement 113-104 victory. Led by a 23 point and 10 assist performance from Fred VanVleet, and an impressive night from the second unit, the Raptors were able to snap the Lakers seven-game win streak.
“It was great,” VanVleet said following the victory. “Best show I’ve seen all year. Those guys, just seeing them play, I know Coach has been hard on some of those guys, and to see them break through and have a moment, they’ve been working so hard. That’s what the NBA is about, is waiting for your opportunity, and you couldn’t find a better place to have it than LA in the bright lights against one of the best teams in the league.”
The two main takeaways from Sunday night’s game was the Raptors determination on the defensive end and the much-needed extra punch they received from their bench.
It was a career-night for Terence Davis as the undrafted rookie finished the contest with 13 points and five rebounds, looking seemingly unstoppable down the stretch in the fourth quarter. Chris Boucher was incredible, added 15 points, three blocks and two steals, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 10 points of his own while doing an incredible job defending James as the Raptors started building their lead.
“They’ve still got championship players over there,” James said of the Raptors, after piecing together yet another triple-double. “Don’t matter if they were short-handed. … They were the better team tonight, for sure. We had good opportunities to win the game, but they turned up in that fourth quarter.”
The length, athleticism, and grittiness of the Raptors proved to be too much for the Lakers to handle. The Lakers seemed to be out-worked and out-hustled for the majority of the night, ultimately fall behind in the fourth quarter. Behind their strong play on both ends of the floor in the second half, the Raptors were able claw back from a halftime deficit and take a fourth quarter lead which they would not relinquish.
“I think everybody that stepped out there didn’t only contribute, but they played awesome,” Toronto head coach Nick Nurse said.
After a slow start to the game, Pascal Siakam came alive in the second half, putting behind his poor shooting start en route to a 24 point, 11 rebound, and three block night.
“Playing hard is the most important thing, and that’s what we did,” said Siakam. “Everyone is understanding their role and playing to their strength.”
This back-to-back is a reunion of sorts. On Sunday, the Raptors took on Danny Green and on Monday, they will face another former teammate and reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.