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FutureStarrLakers Beat Raptors 122-112
The Lakers secured a thrilling 122-112 victory over the Toronto Raptors to extend their winning streak to four games and secure second-best record in the Eastern Conference through February.
Dwane Casey will lead Team LeBron in next month's All-Star Game in Los Angeles, replacing Brad Stevens who coached last year.
Kobe Bryant continued his remarkable shooting spree, scoring 26 points by halftime and finishing with 81 for an NBA record total. This helped lead Los Angeles to a 122-104 victory over Toronto in Game 2 of the 2006 Western Conference finals.
The Lakers got off to a slow start, trailing 8-2 early. D'Angelo Russell quickly got them back on track with two layups and Dwight Howard made an 82-yard 3-pointer that gave L.A. an 8-8 lead with 7:45 remaining in the first quarter. In the second, however, Los Angeles held onto their lead, keeping Toronto to nine points as they took a 53-47 advantage into halftime.
Toronto appeared to be heading home with a lead, but the Lakers came back and outscored Toronto 12-0 in the third quarter to take control of the game. D'Angelo Russell hit two threes in the fourth to seal it for LA.
One of my basketball principles is that in order to mount a fourth-quarter comeback, you must be within 10 points at the start of the quarter. When the Lakers were trailing by five early in the fourth, they took control with big rebounds and some great play from Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee.
The Lakers kept the Raptors at bay throughout most of the game, but it wasn't until the final minute that LeBron James connected with Anthony Davis for a tie score of 124-124. James finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists as his team pulled off its greatest comeback in two years.
On Thursday night, the Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets 114-108 in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals. Anthony Davis scored 34 points while LeBron James added 26. The Lakers also grabbed 12 offensive rebounds for an immense advantage in second-chance points. Now in their fourth consecutive win, these Lakers hold a commanding 3-1 lead heading into Game 5.
In the second quarter, Los Angeles took control of the game with a lead of up to eight points before Toronto Raptors started showing their size. Jakob Poeltl hit an easy bucket inside and then OG Anunoby followed with another three pointer for a 21-10 advantage for Toronto.
Thankfully for the Lakers, they made no more errors in the first quarter and were able to reduce their deficit to one point at the end of it. Russell hit some shots and Rui Hachimura also hit a 3 pointer as they closed out the opening period with ease.
Following a timeout, the Lakers came back with more energy and built on their early lead to lead by as many as nine points. With just over four minutes remaining in the half, they had an opportunity to take the lead when they scored five consecutive points and forced Toronto to call timeout.
Raptors responded with nine straight points of their own, taking control of the game for the first time since its opening moments. They maintained this lead throughout the remainder of the first half as well as throughout much of the third quarter until Anthony Davis was flagrantly fouled.
In the fourth quarter, the Lakers started to gel and build upon their momentum from the second half. A strong defensive effort allowed them to regain momentum that propelled them toward victory and kept them in contention for top spot in the West.
For the Lakers, this game presented a significant challenge as they are coming off of a stretch where they played three games in six nights. Without their leading scorer Anthony Davis out, their team needed to put together an efficient performance in order to come out on top.
The team was able to accomplish this as they produced an efficient offensive display while also following LeBron James' lead on defense. Furthermore, their stellar defensive effort in the second half helped them secure their first victory in three consecutive games.
The Lakers got off to a slow start against Toronto, looking sluggish early in the game. But they picked up steam in the second half with some great team play and D'Angelo Russell came through big time in the fourth quarter as they marched on for an impressive 122-112 win against the Raptors that improved their record to 33-34 overall and maintained ninth place in the Western Conference.
Tonight, the Lakers relied heavily on their third quarter to secure victory and started off strong with a 31-12 run in the opening two minutes of play. LeBron James scored 12 points and D'Angelo Russell added 7 as Los Angeles built up an early 40-32 advantage.
However, the Raptors were able to hold off the Lakers as they built a 17-point lead at halftime and continued taking advantage of Los Angeles' turnovers. They scored 24 points in the second quarter to maintain their advantage of 14 going into halftime; however, Los Angeles came out firing in the third quarter, shooting 60 percent from the field while holding Toronto to 41 percent shooting.
But the Lakers couldn't sustain this momentum and the Raptors pulled ahead with a 9-0 run midway through the third quarter, taking an 18-point lead. Austin Reaves' rebounding and Dennis Scott's three-pointer brought them within 10 points at the beginning of the fourth, but Toronto kept their advantage and had built up a 19-point cushion late in regulation.
On a night when the Lakers needed to make a comeback, D'Angelo Russell delivered with 28 points and 9 assists in his return from injury. He was especially effective in the fourth quarter, hitting mid-range jumpers, making timely cuts, and providing energy that Los Angeles needed to secure victory. Furthermore, Russell scored 13 points in the third quarter while having an incredible block on an open dunk which gave them a 107-102 advantage with 3:27 remaining.
The fourth quarter can be the most crucial of any game. It's when a team can mount an unlikely comeback and secure victory, often after having trailed by double digits entering the final period.
On Friday night, the Lakers experienced a similar scenario to that of the Toronto Raptors. Trailing by five going into the fourth quarter, they came storming back with a 31-12 run to take command of the game and go on to defeat Toronto 122-112 for their third straight victory and return to ninth place in the Western Conference standings.
This marks the first time the Lakers have won three games in a row since December and their record now stands at 33-34. While this record is much better than their 24-24 mark last season, it still doesn't quite measure up to expectations.
The Lakers began the game slowly but found their groove in the second quarter. D'Angelo Russell scored from everywhere to give them an early lead and help the Lakers pull away for good with 14 points at halftime. Later in the third quarter, Russell hit some key shots to help finish off with a 15-7 run for Lakers at halftime.
He hit some deep threes in the fourth to help his team take a commanding 107-98 lead midway through the quarter. Additionally, he added some late 3-pointers to put the game away for good.
On Friday night, D'Angelo Russell turned in an outstanding performance in his return to the lineup. His rebounds and blocks were decisive as he guided the Lakers to victory against the Toronto Raptors, helping them maintain their playoff position.
D'Angelo Russell has been a major factor in the Lakers' remarkable comeback this season, contributing to their ability to win three straight games and improve to 33-34 on the year.
His return to the lineup proved a big advantage for the Lakers in this game, as he was able to rally his teammates and give them what they needed to get back on track. He made some key plays in the fourth quarter and even hit some free throws to bring his overall score up to 30 points.