The Los Angeles Lakers forgot their doubts and casualties and crushed the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday (101-110) with heavy artillery from the triple and with a Marc Gasol domineering in the paint.
The scoreboard was misleading, as the Lakers led by 34 points in the second quarter, entered the last quarter with a 20-point lead, and only in the trash minutes Pascal Siakam saved Toronto’s honor without endangering the visiting victory.
As a complement to the Lakers’ show from the perimeter (13 triples at halftime), Gasol showed no compassion by his former teammates from the Raptors, with whom he won the NBA ring in 2018-2019, and added 13 points (his highest score of the season), 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks against 5 losses in 28 minutes .
Gasol He came out of the starting center again, in the absence of the injured Andre Drummond, and was the Angelenos’ only inside reference after Montrezl Harrell was sent off for an absurd tangana with OG Anunoby in the first quarter.
The arrival of Drummond displaced Gasol, who has recently admitted that it has not been easy for him to process this change in situation. But the unfortunate debut of Drummond, who was injured last Wednesday in his first game, opened the doors to the start again for Gasol, who has responded with remarkable performances.
The overwhelming victory this Tuesday allowed take a breath of the Lakers, who with their three low stars (LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond) have been a very irregular team. The victory over the Raptors was possibly their best game without James and Davis, but the previous meeting, the tough loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday (104-86), ended with their lowest score so far this season.
Those in purple and gold now have 32 wins and 19 losses and are still in contention for fourth place in the Western Conference against the Denver Nuggets. Talen Horton-Tucker (17 points) was the leading scorer for some very choral Lakers with seven players over ten points.
For the Raptors, who did not have two crucial players like Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry, the main offensive resource was Pascal Siakam with 27 points (17 in the fourth quarter). With 20 wins and 31 losses, the Canadians are a long way from play-off spots in the East.
The Lakers They have not stood out this season for their precision on the perimeter, but in the first quarter they gave a party from the line of three. The Angelenos hit 9 triples (in 13 attempts, 68%) to perfectly control the start of the game with a lethal Markieff Morris on the outside.
Gasol also put on his boots but in the area. In the first seven minutes, the pivot was the master of the inner game and achieved 9 points (4 of 5 shooting, 1 of 1 triples), 5 rebounds and 2 assists. The anger and intensity of Gasol, who had the luxury of giving an assist without looking for a triple by Morris, spread to the entire team (28-40 before the second quarter).
But at the end of the first set, and in a duel without any harshness until then, a stupid scuffle between OG Anunoby and Denis Schroder ended with the first sent off and with Montrezl Harrell also in the shower for getting into where they were not calling him.
Oblivious to arbitration controversies, the Lakers put one more gear in the second quarter. A huge 2-17 run until the middle of the second quarter, with a great defensive effort, allowed the Lakers to achieve abysmal and blushing advantages that exceeded 30 points (32-62 with five minutes to go). All the pieces of the Angelenos shone, including very inspired reserves like Alex Caruso or Wesley Matthews, and at halftime they left with the game practically decided (42-68).
The statistics did not lie: the Lakers had a fabulous first half 59% both in field goals (25 of 42) as in attempts of three (13 of 22) and they prevailed in the fight for the rebound clearly (35 to 19). Faced with that display of power, the Raptors posted a pitiful 19% from 3-pointers with just 3-for-16.
With their homework done, the Lakers came out at the restart without forcing the machine and the Raptors came down below 20 points. But the cushion was so great that, with the punctual but decisive contributions of Talen Horton-Tucker, the Lakers kept the situation totally under control. In the last quarter, the Angelenos got carried away and an exceptional but late Siakam concealed the clear inferiority of the Canadians throughout the entire match.
The Lakers will continue their tour of the East Thursday against the Miami Heat, while the Raptors will face the Chicago Bulls on the same day.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.