No Kawhi, no problem. Sound familiar ?
Without Leonard, the Raptors were able to advance to 2-0 on their Western Conference road trip and 9-1 on the season with a 121-107 win over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Toronto was in control for the majority of the game, leading by as many as 31 points in the first quarter. For more on how the Raptors did it, take a look at five key takeaways from the win…
Kyle Lowry is on another level
Lowry, the league's assist leader, continues to do big things in year 13.
In the win over the Lakers, Lowry finished with 21 points and 15 assists - his eighth-consecutive game with double-digit assists. Lowry's assists mark breaks a franchise record previously held by Damon Stoudamire. To take it a step further, TSN's Josh Lewenberg provided even more context to the All-Star's assists numbers in relation to the rest of the league:
Lowry's recorded 15 or more assists 5 times in his 13-year career. 2 of those games have come in the last week.- Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) November 5, 2018
He added 15 assists (with just 1 turnover) to his league-leading total tonight. Give him 116 in 10 games. That's 31 more than any other NBA player.
Lowry's passing is infectious; each Raptor that played tonight registered at least one assist as Toronto assisted on 32 of its 49 field goals (65.3 percent). While the Lakers made a number of valiant efforts to inch closer in the game, Lowry served as a steady, calming force, allowing the Raptors to hold them off.
While the 32-year-old's presence on the floor is important now, it will be crucial in the postseason.
Serge Ibaka's career night
It's pretty clear that Ibaka is becoming increasingly comfortable in his role this season.
Less than a week after scoring 30 points in a loss to the Bucks, Ibaka scored 20 first-quarter points and finished with a career-high 34 points (on 15-for-17 shooting) and 10 rebounds in less than 30 minutes of play Sunday night.
Serge Ibaka goes 15-17 from the field en route to a career-high 34 PTS in the @Raptors 9th win of the season! #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/VNPRIIzfeX- NBA (@NBA) November 5, 2018
Ibaka scored in a variety of ways: he followed missed shots, scored with his back to the basket and even stepped out to knock his lone 3-point attempt. His 20-point first quarter set the tone as the Lakers had to account for his activity throughout the game, opening things up for other Raptors. When Ibaka is this potent offensively, this Raptors offence is nearly impossible to slow down.
Thanks to Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam and Jonas Valanciunas, the Raptors absolutely dominated on the inside throughout the night, scoring 70 points in the paint to the Lakers 52.
In addition to connecting on 35 of its 57 attempts on the inside, Toronto outrebounded the Lakers 49-38, including 13 offensive rebounds that led to 16 second-chance points. Siakam finished the game with a 16-point, 13-rebound double-double, and five of his boards came on the offensive end. Valanciunas continues to terrorize reserve bigs, as he finished with 14 points and eight rebounds in 17 minutes of action off the bench.
Activity on the boards and in the paint proved to be the difference and made up for the team's 28.5 percent 3-point shooting.
There's still room for improvement
The most encouraging takeaway from this win? Toronto can and will be even better moving forward.
First, the team was able to deliver a commanding performance without an MVP-calibre player in Kawhi Leonard. As evidenced by his play early in the season, Leonard takes this team to another level, and it was able to handily defeat a solid Lakers team in his absence. That bodes well moving forward.
Additionally, the team can shoot much better.
CJ Miles and Fred VanVleet each shot 0-for-4 from deep and as a whole, the team shot poorly from 3-point range (10-for-35) and still managed to win big. Entering Sunday night's game, the Raptors were 18th in the league in 3-point percentage (35.3) but have not shied away from shooting them (top-10 in attempts). Toronto can and will knock down more shots and will give defences even more trouble.