(Photo By: Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)
Lakers at Raptors: 3 Things to Know (3/14/19)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers’ international clash with the Toronto Raptors.
1) Just King things
LeBron James has scored 30-plus points in each of his last three games, with two common factors: extreme efficiency and sledgehammer style.
James has shot 60.3 percent from the field during this stretch, thanks largely to his ability to get to the rim at will. Over these last three games, he has hit a towering 87.9 percent in the restricted area, making 29 shots and missing only four.
Opponents have not been able to keep LeBron from attacking the rack, as seen with his monster dunks in Monday’s win over Chicago.
2) Another battle between the King and the Klaw
LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard have well-documented history. They split a pair of NBA Finals battles in 2013 and 2014, with each man taking MVP honors for the winning side.
Having since moved on to new teams, Leonard will face James (and the Lakers) for the first time in two years.
Leonard has been monstrous for the Raptors, with a two-way game that has him ranked seventh in scoring and fifth in steals. His in-between package is as good as it gets, and his physical approach has earned him the NBA’s fourth-most made free throws.
Expect James and Leonard to guard each other for more than a few possessions, which should be interesting given that both rank among the NBA’s top five in isolation scoring.
3) Jurassic World is here
The Raptors will not have the services of a suspended Serge Ibaka, who torched the Lakers in their previous matchup with 34 points on 15-of-17 shooting.
But with Leonard — who rested that initial meeting — back in the mix, Toronto has more than enough firepower at its disposal.
Kyle Lowry is second in the NBA in assists (right ahead of LeBron). Pascal Siakam has taken a huge leap as a sophomore. Danny Green is a top-five 3-point shooter. Veterans Marc Gasol and Jeremy Lin were added around the trade deadline.
It’s no surprise that the Raptors have already clinched a playoff spot, with a 48-20 record that’s second-best in the NBA.
Lakers: Josh Hart (right knee tendinitis), Lance Stephenson (left foot, second toe sprain) and Tyson Chandler (neck stiffness) are questionable. Brandon Ingram (DVT, right arm) and Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain) are out.
Raptors: Fred VanVleet (left thumb ligament injury) is out. Serge Ibaka is suspended.
Tip-Off: 5 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet in L.A. TNT nationally
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: Purple Statement
Location: Scotiabank Arena — Toronto, Ontario, Canada