Raptors Rout Lakers

 LeBron James shoots a jumper early in the game on Sunday vs. the visiting Toronto Raptors. (Jevone Moore / Full Image 360 photo)
LeBron James shoots a jumper early in the game on Sunday vs. the visiting Toronto Raptors. (Jevone Moore / Full Image 360 photo)

By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com

Coming home, after a hard-fought win on the road, the Lakers come home to defend their home court, and protect Head Coach Luke Walton’s job, against the Toronto Raptors. Looking to capitalize on their previous win, they will seemingly catch a break, as the Raptors will be without their star off season’s acquisition Kwahi Leonard.

The Raptors exploded out the gate behind 20 points from Serge Ibaka. After hitting his first shot attempts, Ibaka finished 15 for 17 for the game. Unable to keep pace the Lakers finished the first quarter with 17 points and no one scored over 4 points on the team. While the Lakers shot less than 34% for the quarter, they allowed the Raptors to shoot for nearly 70%. This led to their 22-point halftime deficit.

After winning the second quarter, the Lakers went on a couple runs to try to get back in the game in the third. Most notably, they went on an 8-0 run to bring the lead down to under 19 points, with 3:17 to go in the third quarter. Though Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 12 points in the quarter, the Raptors were still able to push the lead back up to 21.

Through three quarters Josh Hart was the only Laker to play on Sunday to have a positive plus-minus. James added an additional 8 points and Ingram chipped in 8 points in the quarter. This helped the Lakers to win this quarter as well, however, they still were down by 21 points. The aforementioned players for the Lakers were also the only players to score in double digits for the game.

With LeBron on the bench, the Lakers group of Caldwell-Pope, Hart, Stephenson, Rondo, and Zubac were able to trim the lead down to 10 points in the 4th quarter. When asked about what consideration he gave to putting LeBron back in the game, Head Coach Luke Walton responded by saying, “Yeah, there was a shot or two that, if it went one way or another he was going to get back in there. That group was playing with great energy and getting stops; they were moving the ball, so you kind of like to reward a group like that! … But, if we got it close enough he would’ve made that sub and we would’ve had him on the floor to try to steal that one.”

These fluctuations in the rotations are a necessary evil for the Lakers at this point, as Coach Walton is figuring their best lineups. These rotations are likely to change with the addition of new former Phoenix Suns Tyson Chandler. They will need to go through another adjustment period including the mixing of rosters. I’m of the opinion that Ball, Hart, Ingram, James, and McGee should be there starting five. This allows them to have a premium ball handler and scoring coming off the bench with Rondo and Kyle Kuzma.

Though GM Magic Johnson and James have proclaimed to be patient in this process to restore the Los Angeles Lakers prominence in the formidable Western Conference. Their collective patience will be severely tested if they continue to win at a .400 pace. Whether you think a coaching change needs to be made or if some trades need to be made… what changes would you suggest, to get the Laker on a winning track? Please let me know your thoughts on the Los

Angeles Laker and what changes if any, would you suggest to Magic Johnson if he were to call your phone; please share your thoughts and feedback by commenting in the comment section of this article on www.whatsgoodinsports.com or @whatsgoodinsports.