Lakers head coach Luke Walton subbed in three starters when the game was tied at 83 with 6:26 left in regulation. Three minutes later, the Lakers were down by eight points. All players who were on the floor were benched, a move Walton made due to lack of defense in transition. The true punishment would be a loss to a contending team they controlled in the first half.
“Some nights, it’s the bench’s job to just get that lead or keep you around and then you put the starters back in and they’re supposed to finish it for you,” said Walton. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get back on defense again.”
Although they led by 17 points, the Lakers fell to the Toronto Raptors 101-92 on Friday. The Raptors presented a stronger offensive push as the game continued. A 19-point effort in the first quarter improved in the second period to 26 points. Los Angeles struggled to maintain the same momentum in the second half.
“Usually teams just lay down after that, we gave them life,” said forward Julius Randle. “[The Raptors] were just in rhythm… it was hard to recover from.”
Randle paced the Laker’s offense with 18 points, three assists, one steal and one block. Forward Kyle Kuzma earned is first NBA double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Compton-born NBA All-Star DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points and three steals. Guard Kyle Lowry made 10 rebounds and 12 assists.
Both teams kept perimeter shooting to a minimum, the Lakers shot at 13 percent, only landing three out of 23 attempts. Toronto only made seven of 29 three-pointers.
Ibaka set the tone of the Raptors offense by scoring eight points in the first four minutes of the game. Lopez blocked a shot by forward Norman Powell, Lopez would ultimately make three blocks. The starters established a lead in the first six minutes which set the tone in the second quarter.
Kuzma had the opportunity to play against his former Utah teammates center Jakob Poeltl and Delon Wright in the second period. In nine minutes and 44 seconds, Kuzma scored four points and earned four rebounds.
“I just kinda take what the defense gives me, I go with the flow of the game,” Kuzma said. “People leave me open and I’ll shoot, but [if] people run at me, I’ll try and drive and get in the lane.”
By the intermission, the 7-footers on both teams led in scoring, Lopez with 11 points and Serge Ibaka with 10. The Lakers led by at most 14 points, but the Raptors whittled the deficit to six points at the half.
Toronto put up a strong campaign in the third quarter when the Lakers struggled offensively. Guard Lonzo Ball sank is only three-pointer for guard Kyle Lowry to landed a three-pointer of his own. Forward Pascal Siakam would establish a lead for the Raptors, pushing their score to 61 points. The Lakers went scoreless for three minutes.
Three Raptors players had over 10 points by the fourth quarter compared to the two players on the Lakers. Kuzma and Randle combined for 13 points in the last 12 minutes. Guard Josh Hart scored three rebounds and two steals in that time period.
Lakers reserves were sent in to solve an eight-point deficit with 3:42 left in regulation but was not on the Lakers’ side. After battling the Jazz in Utah on Saturday, the Lakers will return home to battle the Detroit Pistons on Halloween.