The Los Angeles Lakers have put their 11-game losing streak against the Toronto Raptors to rest.
Leading by as much as 34 points in the game, the Lakers dominated the Raptors despite the final score of 110-101. Toronto made a late and energizing push, but dug itself into far too deep of a hole to complete the comeback.
If you missed any of the action, we have you covered with some thoughts below.
1. Marc Gasol's steps up in first game against Raptors
It wasn't the homecoming Gasol would have anticipated, playing against the Raptors in Tampa as opposed to Toronto for the first time since joining the Lakers. But the location didn't matter, as the Raptors' NBA champion dominated his former team from the get-go.
It only took Gasol one half to really make his impact felt, controlling the paint on both ends. He had nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks at the halftime break, playing an integral role in the Lakers putting this one away early.
Aggressive from the start 😤- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 6, 2021
(📺: @SpectrumSN) pic.twitter.com/KLqTKtUE5Z
It was a vintage Gasol performance, who would finish with 13 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four blocks, showing Toronto exactly what it has been missing this season with an interior presence.
2. OG Anunoby, Montrezl Harrell ejected in first quarter
It didn't take long for some fireworks to pop off in this one. Late in the first quarter, Anunoby caught a lead pass for a transition scoring opportunity. Lakers point guard Dennis Schroder didn't want Anunoby to score an easy two points, delivering a hard foul that resulted in an awkward tangling between the two. As the situation transpired, Anunoby dropped Schroder to the ground, flaring tempers across both teams.
The Lakers and Raptors had to be separated after a physical play between Dennis Schröder and OG Anunoby.- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 7, 2021
Anunoby and Montrezl Harrell were ejected from the game. pic.twitter.com/hBNxjGyWWv
After some jawing, pushing and shoving, the referees reviewed the post-play activity and decided to eject Anunoby and Lakers centre Montrezl Harrell from the contest.
Anunoby played 10 minutes in the contest with two points and three assists, while Harrell's night was just getting started, only playing two-plus minutes, yet to record a stat.
Toronto was already down six players - Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Rodney Hood, Patrick McCaw, Paul Watson and Jalen Harris - due to injury or health and safety protocols. Anunoby's ejection left the Raptors with just eight eligible bodies for the remainder of the game.
3. 3-point shooting makes the difference
You know what they say: you live by the 3, you die by the 3. The Lakers were living by the 3-point shot tonight, whereas, the Raptors were dying by it.
Los Angeles buried a season-best nine 3-pointers in the first frame, going 9-for-13 (69.2%) from range. That set the tone for the game, as the Lakers hardly cooled off the rest of the game. All nine Lakers players that attempted a 3-pointer made one, with Talen Horton-Tucker, Markieff Morris and Alex Caruso's three 3s leading the team. Los Angeles came up just one 3-pointer shy of tying their highest single-game 3-point total of the season.
As for the Raptors, it was quite the opposite. Toronto had its very worst 3-point shooting night of the season, finishing 5-for-33 (15.2%) from range. The Raptors did not make a single 3-pointer in the second or third quarter, going a combined 0-for-17 from 3 in those two frames. Their five made 3s and 15.2 percent conversion rate were both season-lows.
4. Talen Horton-Tucker shows out
When the Raptors and Lakers were linked in trade rumours surrounding a possible deal for Kyle Lowry at the deadline, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Los Angeles' hesitancy to trade 20-year-old forward Horton-Tucker was the snag that prevented the talks from progressing.
Horton-Tucker showcased exactly why he was desired by the Raptors' front office, scoring a team-high 17 points in this one. He did a little bit of everything to help lead his team to victory, also adding six assists and four rebounds to his totals.
Talen with the fancy dimes 💰 pic.twitter.com/I0k1IEpcyF- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 7, 2021
He's smooth when attacking the basket, weaving through defences while using his length to finish around the rim. He even shot the ball well from 3-point land, going 3-for-4 on the night.
It was an impressive showing from THT.
5. Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. struggle to get it going
In a game where the Raptors desperately needed this duo to step up, they both struggled to get it going.
Don't let Siakam's final stat line of 27 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals fool you; the majority of that damage was done late in the final frame when the game's outcome was decided. Entering the fourth quarter, Siakam was 3-for-16 from the field and 0-for-5 from 3 with 10 points. He then went on to score 17 points in the final frame, padding those final numbers.
As for Trent, he came back down to Earth a bit after a scorching hot stretch. The 22-year-old wing only had 11 points, shooting 4-for-15 from the field and 1-for-6 from 3-point land.
Combining for a shooting night of 11-for-36 (30.6%) from the field and 1-for-12 (8.3%) from 3, Toronto could've used more from this tandem to keep them in this one.
6. Gasol impressed with Anunoby's development
Prior to Anunoby's ejection, he had a funny moment where he impressed his former teammate. Gasol was defending Anunoby when the young forward showcased a bit of his developing offensive skillset, burying a step-back pull-up jumper over the Lakers big man.
Gasol must not have seen this move in Anunoby's offensive game last season, signalling to toward his former coaches on the Raptors' bench toward out of respect of Anunoby's move.
Marc Gasol with the "He's doing that now??" on the OG pull-up fadeaway pic.twitter.com/dMjJqqU5kr- Vivek Jacob (@vivekmjacob) April 6, 2021
It was Anunoby's only bucket of the game, but it still caught Gasol's eye.
7. Lakers snap 11-game losing streak against Raptors
Yes, you read that right. Toronto owned an 11-game win streak over Los Angeles, dating all the way back to Nov. 30, 2014.
The Lakers' leading scorer in that game? The late, great Kobe Bryant, who exploded for a triple-double of 31 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds.
8. What's next?
The Raptors will have one day off before a huge matchup against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday - the team that owns the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Lakers will also have a day off before a 2020 NBA Finals rematch against the Miami Heat on Thursday.
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