Video Credit: NBA

New FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs Raptors- Game 70

Franchise Sports Media

Los Angeles Lakers (30-40) | Toronto Raptors (39-31)


Russell Westbrook forced OT with a clutch three last night, giving the Lakers the chance to grab the 128-123 win over Toronto.


Lakers vs Raptors
Photo Credit: Mark Blinch/AP

Are basketball fans supposed to believe a former MVP has completely lost his way? Something had to snap for Russell Westbrook. He was acquired to make strong plays for the team and finally stepped into that role last night.

Wenyen Gabriel has made do with his opportunity so far, getting his first start of the season in this one.  He led a 15-5 run to start the evening, scoring ten on 4-4 from the field and two three-pointers.  Westbrook also hit a three during the run, helping the Lakers to improve drastically from behind the arc all game.  Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam kept pace for Toronto early, however, with Siakam tying the game from deep.

An 11-5 run had Toronto pulling away towards the end of the quarter when Fred Van Vleet attacked the defense for two tough scores.  Wenyen Gabriel had 14 points in the quarter for Los Angeles on the other side, leading his team up 5 going into the second.  He reached his season-high in points in just a quarter, making great use of Frank Vogel’s decision to start him.  Both teams were in rhythm offensively early in the game, shooting over 65 percent. The Lakers seemed set on making this one count.

Lebron James and Westbrook efficiently added to the lead to start the quarter, with James scoring six quick points in the paint. He started slow last night, but finally, being able to rely on his team tonight kept them all confident and far improved from their recent performances.  Malik Monk then contributed to a 15-5 run with two from deep–one of the reasons the Lakers were ahead for most of the game.

One final 7-0 run in the half for Toronto brought it to within 4, but the Lakers were right where they wanted to be.  What made the loss so disappointing the last time these two teams matched up was that LA was able to shut down Fred Van Vleet but no one else.  Rather than struggling due to the focus of one player, the new format with Gabriel on the floor allowed the defense to intensify and play a lot more effectively.  Van Vleet was a problem for them early on, with his 14 first-half points, but the defense had everyone else on the court on lock.

Scottie Barnes and Siakam started the first quarter accurately, but both players could only combine for eight shot attempts.  There were fundamental differences in the Lakers’ defense last night, allowing fewer openings for an offense that tormented them just last week.  The Lakers went 9-15 from three in the half, another positive difference that sent them into the second half with confidence and a slight advantage over Toronto.

The Lakers were up by four at the break, looking to maintain their approach up 59-55 before the second half.


Lakers vs Raptors
Photo Credit: Chris Young/AP

Siakam and Barnes could only stay quiet for so long, getting the lead right back to start the half.  Gabriel would hit another three in response, going 4-4 from deep and finishing the night with 17 points.  It was a 16-5 run led by Toronto, however, taking control in the middle of the third.  Two threes from Westbrook and D.J. Augustin had the Lake Show up by one before Toronto scored at the buzzer.

The game was close and intense throughout, with the fourth matching the energy of a playoff game.  James went all out to start the quarter, driving for two layups and two signature dunks. While the Raptors kept pace, Austin Reaves would follow the momentum with a three to keep it at a slight lead.

This set up nine lead changes in the last half of the fourth, with James reclaiming the lead twice with threes. He had 36 by the game’s end, but Barnes’ 31 points and 17 rebounds kept it close.  Gary Trent Jr. would put Toronto back on top with a three, leaving the Lakers with one possession to tie, down 3.  The clutch shot didn’t come from James or Carmelo Anthony; it came from Westbrook, who tied it from the arc, leaving the Raptors to challenge the shot in hopes that his foot was in front of the line, but inevitably the game went into OT.  Westbrook had a signature triple-double with 22 points, ten rebounds, and ten assists.

So, it was still a disappointment they couldn’t close it out in regulation, but Los Angeles still had to keep that same intensity. Neither side could go on a run to set the tone, with six lead changes keeping the game electric and the Lakers fighting for a much-needed win.  Siakam got his team up one from the line, but Avery Bradley stepped up in a big way off the bench to secure the victory. Vogel let him in to play the last few tense moments of the game, allowing Bradley to hit the go-ahead three and seal the win with free throws in the final minute.


The Lakers are in Washington tonight, facing the Wizards at 5:00 p.m. on Spectrum.           

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Duncan Dye – Franchise Sports Media

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