Team Records: Toronto 13-3, Los Angeles Lakers 3-13
Where to Watch: Sportsnet Regional (all regions) 9:30 p.m. EST
It’s no question Toronto had a bummer of a Friday to start their weekend. Dallas came into the Air Canada Centre and won 106-102. In the process of losing, DeMar DeRozan, the team’s top scorer and All-Star, left the game due to a groin injury.
The Raptors will be looking to close their weekend on a happier note tonight, as they take on the lowly Lakers at the Staples Centre.
It’ll be the first full game without DeRozan, and as of writing this, there’s no official word on who will start in his place. Casey has indicated in the last 24 hours that James Johnson will be the bench player to see the most drastic increase in minutes with the All-Star out. Whether that means he’ll be starting, or whether it’ll be Greivis Vasquez, Landry Fields or Lou Williams, has yet to be seen.
For Los Angeles, Showtime is a long distant memory, as the 3-13 Lakers have struggled thoroughly with a patch-stitched roster. Their defense is the worst in the league thus far, giving up an unbelievable 111.4 points per game. Injuries haven’t helped, as Xavier Henry, Steve Nash and Julius Randle have all been lost for the season. Ryan Kelly will miss six weeks with a hamstring injury.
The Lakers do have Kobe Bryant, though, and Raptors fans will have fits remembering all the times Black Mamba has stomped on our hopes and dreams. Of course there was the 81-point game, but who can forget other classics like 2010’s "baseline game-winner", 2012’s "baseline game-winner, part II", or 2013’s "get out of my damn way game-winner", seen below.
This year, though, Kobe is on more of an island than ever. His 26.4 points per game leads the team, but he’s doing it by chucking 23.1 shots per game - a mark he hasn’t approached since 2006-07 when his point guard’s name was Smush. No other Lakers player comes close, but the Raptors will have to be wary of Nick Young and Jeremy Lin, both guys with penchants for getting hot.
The Raptors are 4-1 on the road thus far, and will be looking to improve that mark tonight. The west coast trip continues this week with games in Sacramento and Utah.
We’ll see tonight how a DeRozan-less Raptors team looks, a look we’ll have to get used to for at least a month. What will you be watching for?