Lakers sinking fast: Five takeaways from loss to the Raptors

Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma drives past Raptors forward Freddie Gillespie for a reverse dunk.
Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma drives past Raptors forward Freddie Gillespie for a reverse dunk Sunday night at Staples Center.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Did LeBron James come back too soon from a sprained right ankle that kept him out of 20 games?

Did James feel it was urgent for him to rush back after being out for 40 days because the Lakers were wobbling?

The Lakers have lost both games since his return Friday night against Sacramento and Sunday night against Toronto.


So, naturally the question about James coming back too soon was presented to the Lakers All-Star forward after he left the game against the Raptors in the fourth quarter because of a sore right ankle.

“You never know until you get out there because honestly some of the sharp pain that I’m feeling or the pain that I’m feeling on the floor I didn’t have during my workouts, during my training or during my running and things of that nature,” James said.

“So, the only way to test is to get out on the floor. For one, there ain’t no damn practice time. It’s not like when you get practice time, you get five-on-five, you get lives, this is not the season for it. We’ve known that since the beginning. The only opportunity for me to get some live was during the game. I don’t want to say I came back too early, but at the end of the day I had to test it out and see where I was at.”

Five takeaways from the Lakers’ 121-114 loss to Toronto on Sunday night at Staples Center:

1. With 6 minutes 42 seconds to play, James checked out and did not return. The Lakers told the media James had a sore right ankle.

James had played 28 minutes and had 19 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five turnovers.


The Lakers play a second consecutive game Monday night, when they host the Denver Nuggets.

James said “that’s the plan” when asked if he would play against the Nuggets.

The key, James admitted, is him being healthy.

“Well, my level of concern … I really don’t have too much level of concern,” he said. “But my thing is I need to be healthy. I need to make sure my ankle is where it was before the injury. I’ve got to be smart with it.”

2. The Lakers have lost six of their last seven games and their schedule doesn’t get any easier.

Besides playing the Nuggets, the Lakers play at the Clippers on Thursday night and at Portland on Friday night in another set of back-to-back games.

Highlights from the Lakers’ 121-114 loss to the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center on Sunday.

Still, Anthony Davis has remained confident.

“We’re not playing with any swag,” Davis said. “I don’t think guys are having fun. Obviously, it’s no fun when you’re losing, but at the end of the day, we’re the champs, man. Like, we are the champs. We’re the defending champs. So, we got to play that way and play with a little bit more swag.”

3. In Kyle Kuzma’s eyes, the Lakers as a whole are not “connected right now” and that is an issue for the defending NBA champions.


“I think we’re unhealthy and just not good enough,” Kuzma said. “Losing six is very tough, and we’ve all had winnable games during that stretch. And it’s just a little disappointing. We’re just not together as a whole — team, staff, everything. So, we just gotta get back onto it. Try to find out some way, somehow, to get it clicking again and get that spark. And, yeah, I think that’s what it is.”

4. Losing starting point guard Dennis Schroder to the NBA’s health and safety protocols for the game against the Raptors left some of the Lakers wondering about the process and how it works.

“I’m not sure if he has it or not. I don’t know,” Kuzma said about whether or not Schroder tested positive for the coronavirus. “But it’s just very unfortunate that the league’s protocols and how they go about things. I’ve had inconclusive tests and been negative, and we’ve had a bunch of guys with that. And it just sucks. Obviously, it’s just a lot of public media control with, I feel like, how the protocols are ran. So, I mean, that’s just my opinion. But it’s tough.”

Lakers star LeBron James is not happy about play-in games and says if he’s not 100%, a title repeat is out of the question. Health is No. 1 priority.

May 3, 2021

5. Kuzma thinks the Lakers should play center Marc Gasol more.

When the Lakers signed Andre Drummond to be the starting center, Gasol went from first team to the third-string center behind backup Montrezl Harrell.

Gasol didn’t play against the Raptors.

“I wish we could get a little bit more time out there with Marc,” Kuzma said. “That’d be something that would be pretty good for us, for sure. But it’s just tough. It’s tough. We got a lot of different situations, and a lot of things going on around us. So ...”