After securing a much-needed victory against the L.A. Clippers on Sunday, the Lakers are finally back in the win column. Now with the record of 18-19, they must look to continue making up for the recent losing slump when they host the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
Start time and TV schedule
Who: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Toronto Raptors
When: 7:30 p.m. PT, Jan. 9
Where: Crypto.com Arena
Watch: Spectrum Sportsnet
Moments after the Lakers finally snapped their four-game losing streak and played their best collective performance in weeks, LeBron James had the perfect response after the game:
LeBron on how necessary this win was from a morale perspective: "It doesn't fix everything, obviously. But it helps. But we gotta still learn from the wins more than we learn from losses. ... We have to learn from the mistakes we had tonight, which we had too many still."— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) January 8, 2024
Beating the streaking Clippers, who had won five straight, was a small step in the right direction for the purple and gold to get out of this dry spell that they found themselves in. As James reiterated, Sunday’s win didn’t fix everything but it helped ease the frustration and tension that the Lakers were dealing with internally, at least for a bit.
Now Los Angeles has a choice whether they want to continue finding a way out of this dry spell or let it linger for a longer period of time. The only way the Lakers can make up for their horrible performance in the last three weeks is to start stringing wins and avoid dropping winnable games like this upcoming one against the Raptors on Tuesday.
However, if there’s one thing we’ve learned this season, it’s that the team’s trajectory can change in an instant. Maybe the Lakers can simply get back on track by winning their next five games. The focus now is to learn from this dry spell and fully leave it behind.
That all starts by beating the Raptors.
Toronto (15-21) has pretty much been a mediocre team this season and just made a trade move to acquire RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley in exchange for OG Anunoby. Despite losing to the Detroit Pistons on the same day of the trade, the Raptors have now won three out of their last four games. Barrett, who had 37 points against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, has fit really well as the Raptors have recently looked like the team they envisioned to be.
So yes, the Lakers will be stumbling upon a rejuvenated Raptors team that has been playing their best basketball of the season. Toronto will obviously want to continue their winning ways but the Lakers have the means to stop them.
First and foremost, the goal for this Lakers team on Tuesday night is to make sure the Raptors — who are ranked 24th in the league in 3-point shooting, just above the Lakers — don’t shoot lights out as the Memphis Grizzlies did.
It will also be nice if the Lakers’ defense that showed up Sunday against the Clippers makes an appearance in this one again because they’re going to need it against this Raptors team who have capable scorers like Gary Trent Jr., Scottie Barnes, our old friend Dennis Schröder, Pascal Siakam, Quickley and against Toronto’s overall height and bench mob.
The best way for the Lakers to make it two wins in a row is to repeat their performance from Sunday night, where everyone on the team contributed. That seems to be the formula to most of their statement victories this season and as AD reiterated after Sunday’s victory, it also just makes his and James’ jobs easier.
Anthony Davis credited the Lakers’ role players’ impact on the win over the Clippers: “It takes ‘The Others’ to win championships … When these guys are playing well, it just makes me and Bron’s jobs a lot easier” pic.twitter.com/FTRpCNOZgJ— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 8, 2024
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 8, 2024
LeBron James 25 PTS, 8 REBS, 7 AST
Anthony Davis 22 PTS, 10 REBS, 3 STLS
Taurean Prince 13 PTS, 2 AST, 3-6 3PT
D’Angelo Russell 13 PTS, 6 AST
Christian Wood 9 PTS, 10 REBS, 2 BLK
Austin Reaves 8 PTS, 2 AST pic.twitter.com/3qhYGm3WKV
This is the type of game where the Lakers’ role players have to outplay their opponents’ supporting cast. Let’s see if the purple and gold can make it two strong wins in a row on Tuesday, to help themselves get over this dry spell they’ve been dealing with over the last three weeks.
Notes and Updates:
- This will be the first time the Lakers and Raptors go head-to-head this season. Toronto is currently in the middle of a six-game West Coast road trip while the Lakers, who have been at home since last Thursday, will play two more games in Los Angeles before heading on the road again.
- For the Lakers, the team lists Anthony Davis (left ankle sprain/bone bruise) as probable while LeBron James (left peroneal tendinopathy) is questionable. Meanwhile, Rui Hachimura (left calf strain) is now noted as doubtful after being ruled out in the last three games and as expected, Gabe Vincent (left knee surgery) is out.
- As for the Raptors, Gradey Dick (G League), Javon Freeman-Liberty (G League), Christian Koloko (illness), Markquis Nowell (G League) and Jakob Poetlt (left ankle sprain) are out while Otto Porter Jr. (right knee sprain) is doubtful.
You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani