After ending their 16-game losing streak to the Portland Trail Blazers, the Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Toronto Raptors in a back-to-back situation. Despite Kawhi Leonard not playing due to a sore left foot, the Raptors outscored the Lakers 42-17 in the first quarter.
While the Lakers outscored the Raptors by 11 points for the remainder of the game, they could not overcome Serge Ibaka, who had 34 points (15-of-17 shooting) and 10 rebounds in a 121-107 loss that wasn’t as close as the final score may suggest.
“I’ll start by giving Toronto a lot of credit. That’s a good team. And boy, were they ready,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said.
“I don’t know if we were tired from our game [Saturday] night or what. Not that it’s an excuse, but it felt like that in the first quarter. And they jumped all over us, they got where they wanted to, got in a rhythm, and it made it tough to stop after that.”
The Lakers trailed by as many as 31 points in the first quarter and couldn’t slow Ibaka — he made his first 14 shots. Their 25-point deficit marked a franchise-worst deficit in the first quarter in any game of the shot clock era.
However, a bench unit made the rout somewhat of a game down the stretch of the fourth quarter, which Walton was pleased with.
“I was proud of our guys for continuing to fight,” he said. “Not that it matters but they competed throughout the whole game. Outscored them in the second, third and fourth but that deficit we built in the first was just too much to overcome. That’s a good team over there.”
Through 10 games of the 2018-19 NBA season, this was easily the Lakers’ worst loss so far. As they have been extremely competitive in their previous five losses, their lack of scoring against the Raptors could not mask poor defense in the first quarter.
While president of basketball operations Magic Johnson said his expectation is for Walton to remain the head coach, there is pressure to win now even if it is not necessarily fair.
Under these circumstances, there can be no more moral victories in Los Angeles. Although the Lakers showed improvement with their defense and rebounding, they clearly got away from this winning formula.
As a 4-6 record is not surprising to begin the season, the Lakers will look to have a winning record in their next 10 games with five opponents not expected to make the playoffs.
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