Los Angeles – – D’Angelo Russell scored 28 points and nine assists in his dynamic comeback from a six-game absence due to injury, and Dennis Schroeder added 23 points and seven assists as the Los Angeles Lakers beat Toronto 122-112. Birds of Prey on Friday Night.
Austin Reeves scored 18 points, while Roy Hachimura and Jared Vanderbilt added 16 points, as the Lakers won for the seventh time in nine games, even with a small contribution this time from Anthony Davis.
The superstar only had eight points and nine rebounds as he struggled against the Toronto defense, but Russell and the Lakers reserves took over before Davis sealed the victory on his only goal of the second period with 46 seconds left to play.
“We were able to pull this off against a really good team with just eight (Davis) players, that’s a sign of growth,” said Lakers coach Darvin Hamm. “This is a sign of how deep and talented we are.”
Russell was the focus of Lakers action at the trade deadline, but Russell appeared in just four games to make his second stint in Los Angeles before spraining his right ankle. He returned to the starting lineup with a spring in his stride, hitting five three-pointers while making and celebrating a series of high-flying plays that had Lakers fans cringing again and again.
“I know this from being here (before): the fans are ready to explode at a certain point in the game,” said Russell. “I just wanted to bring that energy and give them that. … It shouldn’t go unnoticed, because our fans are the first to put a battery in the back of someone with a little bit of momentum, so why not do the right things, bring that positivity and build on what our fans have to offer?” “
The Lakers moved into ninth place in the Western Conference three days ago with a win over Memphis, and they are riding high despite the long absence of LeBron James. Russell and Schroeder led a stellar effort as the Lakers cruised away to their sixth win in eight games since the All-Star break. Los Angeles also went 19-for-19 at the free throw line.
Scotty Barnes scored 20 of his career-high 32 points in the second half, and OG Anunoby scored his first 11 while scoring 31 for the Raptors, who have won seven straight road games against the Lakers since 2014.
Anunobi attributed the Raptors’ struggles in the fourth quarter to “they getting comfortable and stopping and playing with confidence. They hit shots, and they kept it up.”
Toronto moved 1-4 in a five-game road swing that capped a losing streak in Los Angeles despite extended periods of solid play throughout the trip.
“Sometimes you can play bad basketball and win every game,” Anunobi said. “You just try to take the positives out of the losses, take it and win the next game.”
Russell tallied 12 points and seven assists in the first half while the Lakers erased an early 15-point deficit in a game that featured many wild momentum swings. The Lakers only managed four field goals in a terrifying third quarter, but took a nine-point lead midway through the fourth with a score of 26-8.
Raptors: Will Barton scored five points in his return from a one-game absence with a non-COVID illness. … Jacob Bueltel scored 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Lakers: Hamm said they haven’t decided whether to sign a backup center with the new acquisition potentially sidelining Mo Bamba until the end of the season with a sprained left ankle. … Davis turns 30 on Saturday.
Raptors: Host Denver on Tuesday night.
Lakers: New York hosts Sunday night.
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