Anthony Davis
(Harry How/Getty Images)

Lakers fall to Raptors as winning streak comes to an end

by Rodrigo Azurmendi
Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES – “You come at the king, you best not miss.”

The legendary quote from ‘The Wire’ faithfully resembles the events of Sunday night, when the Lakers gave up 32 points in transition and fell to the defending champions Toronto Raptors.

L.A.’s winning streak came to an end after a fourth quarter eruption from Nick Nurse’s squad. Led by a dominant Pascal Siakam on offense and a feisty Chris Boucher on defense, Toronto quickly opened up a double-digit lead, forcing the Lakers to play catch up the rest of the way.

“They’re the best, fastest team in the league,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “We knew that coming in, we knew we had to execute offensively and when we didn’t it was going to be a runout that we couldn’t recover from. We’ve been showing great effort in transition defense, in getting back in sprints and try to make recovery plays, but that wasn’t always there for us tonight. And it costed us.”

The defining sequence of the game happened in the last 1:44 with the Lakers mounting a furious comeback attempt. Kyle Kuzma (15 points), already with a couple of three-pointers in the period, missed 2 wide open attempts – and those were answered by a pair of transition buckets by Siakam, who beat the defense down the court.

The forward from Cameroon finished the game with 25 points even though the NBA’s best defense held him to just 9 in the first half. At that point the Lakers led by 8 and looked on their way to an 8th consecutive win.

However, the tables quickly turned in the third quarter, the offense went dormant, and the defense couldn’t quite rescue Vogel’s squad this time.

L.A. scored just 44 points after halftime on 32% from the field, with Anthony Davis doing most of the damage, pouring in 18 of his team-leading 27.

Toronto mixed up their coverages throughout the game, even going to the same 3-2 zone Miami deployed on Friday – to limited results. The Lakers again moved the ball effectively (31 assists) and took good care of it (just 12 turnovers), but just couldn’t get enough stops.

The Raptors second unit – led by Boucher, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and undrafted rookie Terence Davis – set the tone early in the fourth and capitalized with Davis on the bench. By the time AD came back from his (abbreviated) breather, the fate of the game was essentially sealed.

“Credit those guys for stepping up,” Vogel added.

This was despite another well-rounded game from LeBron James, who notched his fourth triple-double of the season with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists – three of them setting up Troy Daniels in the second quarter:

The lack of execution Vogel alluded to kept the Lakers from taking advantage of a short-handed Raptors team who lost Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka to injuries earlier in the week.

The 2019 NBA Champions, however, still found a way to leave L.A. with the win. LBJ summarized it best:

“They were shorthanded but they still got players with championship DNA,” he said.

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