The mood around the locker room and during postgame interviews after Sunday's loss to the Toronto Raptors was generally positive. Losing to the Raptors is not like losing to the bottom-dwelling Mavericks. And, in truth, if the Lakers played the way they did Sunday against all of their opponents, they'd have more wins.
Here are five takeaways from Sunday's 123-114 loss.
1. The Lakers coaches addressed two problems with one move on Sunday. They hadn’t been able to find playing time for Tarik Black lately. Although Black’s ankle had felt better for about a week, Lakers Coach Luke Walton didn't want to take away playing time from Thomas Robinson to get Black back in the fold. On Sunday, he used both players in the same lineup. It got Black back on the court, and it addressed a major problem the Lakers have had: defense.
2. What Walton also created was a competitive situation that served the Lakers very well early in the game. Robinson said the two players fed off each other. “We just play our games, go out there and give it all we have and let the end results be the end results,” Black said. “We don't look at the stat sheet. I didn't know I was almost at a double-double, and I haven't spoken to him but I'm pretty sure he didn't know either. We just go out there and play.” Robinson was one rebound away from a double-double to go with his 12 points. Black was one point and one rebound from a double-double.
3. Even as he's become such a hot shooter, Nick Young has remained one of the Lakers’ best defenders. “Tonight he picked up some foul trouble so we had to get him off DeRozan,” Walton said. “Obviously everybody’s going to slip from time to time but I think for the most part he’s been pretty consistent with that defensive effort and spending energy on the defensive end. Even tonight, I didn’t agree with the foul call, but he came over from the weak side and did a verticality at the rim when their big [man] was rolling. For our shooting guard that’s hot shooting threes to be the guy that makes that read … speaks to how much he’s trying to play the right way and be the guy that helps us win.”
4. Brandon Ingram’s aggressiveness showed on a few plays. On one, he used his length to get around Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas for a one-handed dunk. It wowed the Staples Center crowd and offered a glimpse of Ingram’s potential.
5. The Lakers backup guards are often a big part of their production from that position, but Sunday Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams combined to go 4 for 16. They each had one assist and missed the free throws they took.