January 19, 2014 — 10:00 AM (PST)
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada
TV: TWC SportsNet / NBATV
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
The Lakers (15-25) got a much needed win vs. their arch-rival Boston Celtics Friday, snapping a very dismal 6-game losing streak. Despite G/F Nick Young‘s absence due to his 1-game suspension, the rest of the Lakers found a way go gut out an impressive victory. F Ryan Kelly had a breakout game, scoring a career high 20 points, while F/C Pau Gasol has been playing like the Gasol of old, contributing 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists. Now, the Lakers have to carry their momentum across the border to play the Raptors in an early-morning game.
The Raptors come to today’s game as the 3rd place team in the Eastern Conference. Yes, you did not misread my statement. Since the SF Rudy Gay blockbuster trade that occurred between the Raptors and the Sacramento Kings, the Raptors have completely turned their fortune around, going 14-6 since the trade occurred. The Raptors will be led by G Demar Derozan and PG Kyle Lowry. Derozan, a local product out of USC and Compton High School, has seemed to finally use his raw athleticism efficiently, leading the Raptors in scoring at a career high 21.2 PPG. Lowry has become very crucial in the Raptors recent success, averaging 16.2 PPG and 7.2 APG. Lowry seems to have eliminated himself from the trade block due to the Raptors recent success.
PG - Kendall Marshall / Kyle Lowry [Advantage: Raptors]
SG - Jodie Meeks / Terrence Ross[Advantage: Even]
SF - Wesley Johnson / Demar Derozan[Advantage: Raptors]
PF - Ryan Kelly / Jonas Valanciunas [Advantage: Raptors]
C - Pau Gasol / Amir Johnson [Advantage: Lakers]
Notable Bench Players
Raptors: F Patrick Patterson, F Chuck Hayes, PG Greivis Vasquez, F John Salmons
Lakers: G Nick Young, C Robert Sacre, F Ryan Kelly, C Chris Kaman
Bench Advantage: Even
Raptors: Questionable-F Tyler Hansborough, Questionable-F John Salmons
Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar
Keys for Lakers Victory
Defense: Despite their victory vs. Celtics, the Lakers still have major problems on the defensive end, allowing 104 points. They should have easily defeated the Celtics especially since they shot 60% from behind the 3-pt line. If the Lakers cannot shoot as well today, they will be in a lot of trouble from the start, especially since the Raptors have been playing with a lot of confidence. By the way, lets hope C/F Amir Johnson does look like the second coming of Hall of Fame C Hakeem Olajuwon again vs. the Lakers after he torched them, scoring a career high 32 points.
The rosters for both the Lakers and the Raptors have make a complete overhaul since their last matchup on December 7th. The Raptors have skyrocketed through the Eastern Conference into the 3rd seed, while the Lakers have crashed into the cellar of the Western Conference. With a victory to make the Lakers feel good, lets hope they use that victory to play inspired basketball instead of playing lethargically especially on the defensive end. However, the Raptors look like a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference, so heart and effort might not even be enough for these Lakers today.