The big two came through and the Raptors avoided a fourth quarter collapse to beat the Lakers.
Last night’s game felt like a lot of last year’s games, didn’t it? A random lineup thanks to injuries, Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam being brilliant, and the team getting timely contributions from deep bench pieces to build a lead and sustain it late.
1. Dapped up by LeBron
Malachi Flynn started last night in place of Fred VanVleet, and before the opening tip, got dapped up by LeBron James. (James didn’t play the last time the Raptors and lakers met.)
And I couldn’t help but think about what a moment like that would mean for Flynn; at 22, he’s been watching LeBron James play basketball for most of his entire life. Now, to start an NBA game against one of the consensus top two NBA players of all time? To get dapped up as a peer?
I just thought that must be really cool for Flynn.
2. Jalen Harris Getting Run
As we saw on Saturday, Jalen Harris got into last night’s game fairly early on. Although I liked what he did on Saturday night — and I love getting him some minutes here as the season winds down — it’s clear he still has a lot of work to do.
In the frist quarter, he drove into traffic with the clock winding down, and got swallowed up by two Lakers. Early in the second, he got a soft layup swatted away by Markieff Morris.
But hey — that’s why he’s getting the minutes! To learn and adjust his game to the NBA game. I don’t know if he’s an NBA player yet, but hopefully we’ll have a better idea by the end of the season.
3. Second Quarter Swing
The Lakers led last night’s game 53-50 with five minutes to go in the first half. Then, it was KLOE time. Over the next five minutes, Lowry…
- Drew a foul into backcourt
- Dished to Pascal Siakam for a short J
- Drained a triple
- Dished to Khem Birch, who drew a foul
- Drove through the paint on a secondary break for a layup
- Dished to a cutting Bembry for a layup
- Drained another triple, in the front end of a 2-for-1
- Went coast-to-coast for a layup to cap the back-end of the 2-for-1
Suddenly the Raptors were up by 13 as the buzzer sounded, wrapping up a 22-6 run and winning the second quarter 40-21.
Lowry was brilliant. Remember, folks, there may not be a lot of Kyle Lowry games left. Enjoy ‘em while you can.
4. Fourth Quarter Turnaround
The Raptors have been not-so-great in the fourth quarter all season, and over the previous three games had a -10.7 point differential in the fourth quarter. So it was a little bit alarming to see the Lakers come out and immediately shave Toronto’s 17-point lead to 10 points.
Thankfully, Nick Nurse didn’t wait to call a timeout, and after the break, Lowry went on an 8-2 run. The Lakers pulled a Raptors and got the lead down to two possessions in the final minute, but the Raptors held on.
Is it something they can build on? Hopefully. It’s probably too late this season either way, but as a fan, it sure was refreshing not to see the Raptors fall apart in the fourth.
5. One-two Punch
Alongside Lowry, Pascal Siakam was sensation last night, and it was a real throwback to the pre-pandemic 2019-20 season then Lowry and Siakam were clearly the best two players on the team and you knew one or both were going to bring it every night.
That’s what we got last night. Lowry with 37 points and 11 assists. Siakam with 39 points and 14 boards.
This season has obviously been a mess for many reasons, all of which we’ve discussed at length, and has robbed us of seeing Siakam and Lowry at the top of their games for most of it. So it was awesome to see it again.
My old bones can barely handle these 10:00 p.m. starts! Thankfully there’s only one more late start on this trip — and this season — tomorrow night against Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers.