The Los Angeles Lakers fell for the third-straight time and seventh time in the last eight games when they lost 123-114 to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night. But while the defining characteristic for the Lakers over that stretch has been blowing leads in the second half, this time the Lakers’ answered the Raptors’ fourth quarter run with some fight.
Los Angeles was trailing 110-91 with just under six minutes remaining when the team ripped off a 15-2 run that left the Lakers trailing by just six with less than three minutes to go. The young team ultimately couldn’t close the game out, but a major key in their run was the play of sophomore point guard D’Angelo Russell, who dropped 14 of his 28 points in the final period.
“I feel like (Russell) has been a little too hesitant with his shot, thinking a little too much,” said Randle, who had 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists. “I just told him to be aggressive and he just started being really aggressive and made a run and kept us in the game.”
The result of Randle’s prodding didn’t bring Russell’s veins to peak iciness, but it did result in some hot shooting. Russell knocked down five of his six attempts in the fourth, including four three-pointers.
Sometimes aggressiveness is just a postgame cliche used to describe a player who made shots, but in this case it described Russell’s play. He literally just had to be aggressive enough to shoot because the Raptors were nervous to send their bigs out to cover him, giving Russell wide-open looks like this one:
On his next shot the Raptors played off of him again (to double Luol Deng on the perimeter for some reason) and Russell made them pay:
His third make was his only shot inside the arc, and showed why the Raptors were afraid to switch a big man onto him. Russell’s change of pace still was devastating here:
On his final look the Raptors decided to try actually guarding Russell, but it didn’t work any better:
The Raptors started to play him a little more tightly at the end there, but they mostly dared Russell to beat them with his long-range meteors and he nearly made them as extinct as their team namesake.
Russell had a season-low zero turnovers against Toronto, only the fourth time in his career he’s never coughed up the ball, and when he learns to consistently combine his playmaking skills with his scoring ones, he holds the potential to be an incredibly dangerous player for the Lakers.
All stats per NBA.com. and Basketball-Reference.com. All quotes transcribed via Spectrum Sportsnet. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.