The Toronto Raptors are preparing for a stern test against an improving team Wednesday night when they play the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers have been playing much better after a slow start to the season, and the combination of LeBron James and Anthony Davis provides a difficult challenge for any team.
“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, who were playing the second half of back-to-back games — as the Lakers will be.
“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.”
Davis scored 55 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked three shots in a 130-119 win over the Washington Wizards on Sunday. He shot 22-for-30 from the field.
“Just straight dominance,” James said. “Straight dominance.”
Davis scored 44 points in a 133-129 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday to open the trip.
Health has been an issue for Davis at times.
“We’ve been talking all summer about him just being the go-to guy,” Ham said. “I told him none of this is going to work if he’s not right – not only available to play but playing at an extremely high level, which he’s doing right now. I’ve said that to him, to the team, you guys. We need AD to be special in order for us to get to where we need to get to.”
“Everything is going well for us right now,” Davis said on Sunday. “Guys are shooting the ball well. Guys are communicating on defense. We’re doing it all as a group. But for me, it’s just being locked in, staying with a mindset of being aggressive, not taking the game off and coming out with the mindset of dominating.
“Whatever I have to do to help the team win — whether that’s scoring, rebounding, blocking shots. Whatever it is, I’m just trying to do my part.”
–Field Level Media