Game Preview: Raptors vs. Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers (19-29) @ Toronto Raptors (32-15)
When: Sunday, January 28th, 6 P.M. ET
Where: Air Canada Centre
Broadcast info: TSN4/5, TSN1050
The Raptors last saw the Lakers at Staples Center in late October, collecting a 101-92 road win behind a 24-point performance from DeMar DeRozan and a triple-double from Kyle Lowry. After getting off to a slow start and trailing by seven after the opening quarter, the Raptors found a rhythm and kept pace with the Lakers through three. With a one-point lead to start the fourth, DeRozan turned things up a couple of notches, scoring 17 of his 24 points in the final quarter to help the Raptors pull away. Lowry's 11 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds gave him his eighth triple-double as a Raptor, while Serge Ibaka added 18 points and eight rebounds. The Lakers were led by Julius Randle's 18 points in the loss.
LEADING INTO TONIGHT'S GAME
Injury report: For Toronto, the injury report is clear. For the Lakers, rookie Lonzo Ball is out with a sore left knee.
Welcome Toronto: Sunday's game will be the second consecutive game where the team will wear their black and gold city edition uniforms. After unveiling the uniforms as well as a black and gold "Welcome Toronto" court on Friday, the Raptors would now like to get a win on it after dropping a 97-93 decision to the Jazz on Friday.
Letting one get away: The Raptors come into Sunday's game disappointed with how they played in a Friday home loss to the Utah Jazz. Another slow start had head coach Dwane Casey saying he hoped his team learned from the loss. "It's an old saying, the way you start is the way you finish and we finished the way we started," Casey said."We've got to learn from it if we're serious about going somewhere."
All-Star scenario: If the Raptors collect a win on Sunday, Toronto will clinch the best possible record in the Eastern Conference through games played Sunday, Feb. 4, among 14 Eastern Conference teams with a head coach eligible to participate in the 2018 All-Star Game. A win would mean Raptors head coach Dwane Casey and his staff would coach Team LeBron.
JV Rolling: Jonas Valanciunas continues to excel in the new year. Against the Jazz, Valanciunas led the team with a 28-point, 14-rebound, four-block performance, giving him a team high-tying 14th double-double this season. In the month of January, he is averaging 12.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.0 blocks per game while shooting 60 percent from the floor.
A Los Angeles roller coaster: From rookies transitioning to the NBA game, to injuries aplenty, Lakers head coach Luke Walton has had his hands full this season. The Lakers come into Sunday's game having gone 8-2 over their previous 10 games. Prior to that, they had lost nine straight. In a season of development, the Lakers have been up and down, as expected, but a permanent bright spot has been the play of rookie Kyle Kuzma who is averaging 16.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.