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Raptors run wild over Lakers, 113-80, for fifth straight win

Toronto has now won five in a row and is looking pretty good on their home floor.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

There was a time not so long ago — like, last week — when we wondered if the Raptors would ever blow a team out. Now, after a thorough 113-80 dismantling of the Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto’s second monster win in five days (and fifth in a row overall), we wonder no longer. This Raptors team is winning and often expects to.

“We’ve taken those steps towards that. Have we arrived? No,” said coach Dwane Casey pre-game, lest we get too ahead of ourselves. “We still have some growth to go and we’re still a young team in this league. But I think our confidence level has grown.” And a brisk two hours and seven minutes later, we saw that confidence on full display. The Raptors offense produced, the defense was lethal, and the outcome from about midway in the second quarter on was never in doubt.

Despite a third quarter in which the Raptors scored a scant 15 points (but held the Lakers to 14), Toronto managed blast past 100 points for the 11th time in 12 games. (And it should be 12 for 12, if not for the Debacle in Sacramento.) The team shot 54.2 percent from the field, 41.4 percent from three and 84.6 percent from the line. There were no weaknesses to be found, the ball zipped around the court, and some Raptors in particularly are on extreme hot streaks.

Kyle Lowry, for one, is playing like a man on fire. He dropped in a casual 24 points tonight on 8-of-12 shooting (6-of-9 from three), to go with seven assists and four rebounds. There was nothing the Lakers could do to slow him down. Meanwhile, his backup Cory Joseph is back from the dead, with another strong night on both ends of the court, 14 points (on 7-of-10 shooting), and four assists. Their all-star running mate DeMar DeRozan may be settling back into that 30-40 percent shooting range (6-of-18 tonight, for example), but once again he made plays. DeRozan had six assists to keep that playmaking trend alive.

On defense, the Raptors held the Lakers to 34.4 percent shooting (and 23.1 percent from three). Woof. And while we must mention the team was without young star-in-the-making D’Angelo Russell and the swag master himself Nick Young, it was clear LA was outclassed. The only area in which the Lakers did manage to have a strong showing was on the glass. LA managed 19 offensive rebounds, including six that fell into Tarik Black’s hands, much to the chagrin of Casey. We could presumably point to the sluggish play from Jonas Valanciunas (six points and seven rebounds) — who Casey insists is fine — or shrug our shoulders at Lucas Nogueira’s lack of strength. But when a team is shooting as well as the Raptors are right now it maybe doesn’t matter. (I’m sure we’ll all monitor this situation closely though.)

I’d be remiss to not give special mention to Bebe here, by the way. He had another of his 100 percent games, going 5-for-5 from the field, and chipping in two blocks (on the same possession!). Casey gave him credit for being part of that second unit in the second quarter who broke the game open. The other young Raptor who had a big contribution was none other than everyone’s favourite: Norman Powell.

Owing to the back-to-back, DeMarre Carroll got the night off so it was Powell’s time to shine. In Norm’s 32 minutes, he went 7-of-14 from the floor for 16 points, added seven rebounds, and chipped in two assists. Despite being constantly yo-yoed in and out of the lineup, Powell was, as always, ready. Casey called him a “professional young man,” and Lowry added he “really like[s] Norman Powell.” It is the peak of luxury to have a player of his calibre in the wings to carry the load when needed.

By the fourth, much like the Sixers game on Monday, the game was decided. The Raptors cleared their bench — Jakob Poeltl, Fred VanVleet (who scored his first NBA bucket) and Bruno Caboclo all got a few minutes — and the fans got pizza. The Raptors are winners of five in a row and sit at 13-6. And you know what? I’m not surprised at all.