The Toronto Raptors prepared for a stern test from the visiting Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
But the improving Lakers will be down LeBron James (ankle soreness) and Anthony Davis (illness), who were ruled out for the game. Further, guard Patrick Beverley is doubtful with knee soreness.
That’s a break for the Raptors.
“The hardest thing with both of those guys is they will hurt you from all over the court,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “Inside, outside, shooting, both (are) involved in tons of screen and rolls in all ways, setting and handling, especially LeBron. Got a long list of things you’ve got to get ready for with those guys.”
Davis was ill and left the Lakers’ 116-102 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night after playing just eight minutes.
“It got progressively worse as the day went on,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “His temperature was 101 and some change. AD wanted to try to play, but he felt too weak. He’s drained and dehydrated. That’s a huge loss, obviously, with the way he’s been playing lately.”
James scored 21 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, and Thomas Bryant added 19 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who were outscored 31-19 in the fourth quarter. Donovan Mitchell scored 43 points for Cleveland to spoil James’ homecoming.
The Lakers are 2-1 halfway through a six-game road trip. They started the season 2-10 but have won eight of their past 11.
The Raptors are coming off a 116-110 home loss to the surging Boston Celtics.
“Sometimes you need a little adversity to knock you into shape a little bit,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said. “I think they went through that. It’s good to go through it early so they can find out who they want to be, so definitely a tough team to play right now. … They’ve been around the block a little bit.”
VanVleet said things are looking up for his team.
“I think we’re trending in the right direction,” VanVleet said.”Again, we had a tough stretch of guys being in and out and unhealthy and a tough schedule and now we’re getting back and everybody’s, you know, we’re trying to figure out what it’s going to look like all together.
“So, it’s early, man, we’ve got a long way to go. It’s a long season and I’m confident that we’ll turn out to be who we think we are at a certain point and just patience is easier said than done.”
Nurse also clearly likes what he is seeing despite a 5-5 record for his team over the past 10 games.
“I know it doesn’t feel like that to anybody because maybe expectations are so much higher or whatever, but I would say we are really on the right track,” Nurse said. “We are making some progress. We have had, and still do have, tons of impact guys out. We have had a rough year injury wise.
“So, I think on one hand you can look at it and say we are doing OK. We are hanging in here with a lot of tough breaks and if we just hang in there and keep improving a little bit, we will get things squared away and be really tough to beat.”
–Field Level Media