Five takeaways from the Lakers’ loss to the Raptors
LeBron James calls it an AAU tournament. Frank Vogel said it felt like March Madness. Basketball is being played pretty much all day long. But unlike AAU players, these are grown men who are the best in the world. And unlike March Madness, all the games are played in the same city on the same campus.
A viewer could catch at least part of every game on a given day without much trouble.
Here are five takeaways from the loss:
1. Bubble basketball has been a high-scoring affair in many cases. On Friday, eight teams scored more than 120 points in regulation and only five won. But the Lakers’ game against the Raptors unfolded in a way more in line with what most believed bubble basketball would be like — at least at first. “I always anticipate defense is going to be ahead of the offense in a training camp or preseason, early in the season,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “It looked like the offense for us was ahead of the defense in the scrimmage games and early on in camp, but the first two games it’s been the other way around. Our defense has performed really well. I think there’s an element of, if you’re working that hard on the defensive end you gotta be sure your legs are under you to make shots on the other end, so I believe that will come.”
2. Entering the game, Vogel had hoped to find more playing time for Dion Waiters and JR Smith to help integrate them into the offense. The game didn’t really allow for that. Waiters played about 20 minutes and scored eight points, and Smith played only seven minutes. Vogel said Smith’s minutes were tied to occasions when he wanted to play Anthony Davis at center.
The Lakers struggled on offense and lost 107-92 to the Raptors on Saturday night, missing a chance to clinch the top seed in the Western Conference.
3. The Raptors are tenacious rebounders. Guard Kyle Lowry, for example, grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds. Their anticipation and effort on the glass was apparent during a 13-0 opening run and continued throughout the game. It provided an edge early that the Lakers eventually matched. Still, the Raptors collected 12 more defensive rebounds than the Lakers.
4. The Lakers attempted 40 three pointers, but only made 10. Toronto, meanwhile, made 41% of its threes. Part of that is a function of the way the Raptors play. “They do a good job of clogging the paint,” Davis said. “I think they’re second or something in paint defense. But they’re 29th in three-point field-goal attempts, third in percentage defensively. They let guys shoot the three but do a great job of contesting and making guys miss.” Overall, the Lakers had their lowest shooting percentage of the season Saturday, although several of them said they weren’t worried.
5. The Lakers bench made a few critical errors but also provided needed scoring. It was an element the Raptors didn’t have. “Me, [Alex Caruso] coming in, bringing energy, trying to change the game defensively, stopping guys, getting up, changing the pace, that is what we do,” Kyle Kuzma said. “For the second unit, that is how we got to play. First unit, obviously those are the big dogs, they play a methodical way. For us, our game is pace.”
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