Lakers look for back-to-back road wins in Toronto
The Los Angeles Lakers started a five-game trip in a positive way. Now they hope to keep it going.
After overcoming a 20--point deficit Tuesday to defeat the Chicago Bulls 123-107, Los Angeles on Thursday will visit the Toronto Raptors, who ended their three-game road trip on a negative.
"We have an opportunity," LeBron James told the media after registering 36 points and 10 rebounds against Chicago. "We go into Toronto our next game, we go into Detroit who's a playoff team, we go into Milwaukee at the end of the trip. All playoff teams, all good teams. Those games will be like playoff games if we want them to be."
The Lakers had not won since Feb. 27 before Tuesday.
"When you're losing, it's always hard to try to have fun, try to embrace just playing the game," said Kyle Kuzma, who scored 21 points for the Lakers after missing two games with an ankle injury. "You get caught as professionals so many times this day and age, social media, everybody is so tight and tense when they play basketball, but, you know, just in general as basketball players we just need to try to have fun, play the game like we did when we were kids in high school and college. I think if we can do that the next 15 games, lay it all out there, that's all we can really ask for right now."
The Raptors, meanwhile, were drubbed 126-101 by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday and lost Serge Ibaka to a three-game suspension for a fight during the game that resulted in his ejection.
Toronto also emerged from the game with what seem to be minor injuries to players such as Kyle Lowry (ankle), Danny Green (ankle) and Pascal Siakam (neck and shoulder).
"We had a lot of bumps and bruises (Monday)," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "It was a rough one. Testament to them they played really hard. Couple ankle tweaks. Couple hand injuries, Pascal's shoulder injury. We'll see how it goes."
"I think I should be all right," Siakam told the Toronto Sun. "Just ice it a little bit. Get some rest and I'll be good."
Nurse said Wednesday that he felt both Lowry and Green could play Thursday.
While the Lakers sit outside a playoff spot and have only a slim chance of getting in, the Raptors are using their remaining games in the regular season to prepare for the postseason.
"We're just continuing to polish things up," Nurse said.
"I've been extremely happy with the way we've handled the flow of the season. Guys in, guys out, down games, comeback, take a tough loss, bounce back. Whatever those ebbs and flows of the season are, we've handled them really well, especially considering the amount of guys we've had out for long stretches."
The Raptors won the first two games of their trip against the New Orleans Pelicans and the Miami Heat. They dominated the Heat on Sunday with a fast-paced effort despite Kawhi Leonard sitting against the Heat because it was the opener of back-to-back games. But he was in the lineup Monday, scoring 25 points in Cleveland.
One advantage of the Ibaka suspension is that Marc Gasol will have a chance to start three consecutive games. In his 12 games since joining the Raptors in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, he has started five times at center.
"I could definitely use it to get used to (the team) and things like that," Gasol said.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 13, 2019