NBA Hoosiers (Aug. 1): OG Anunoby Comes Up Huge in Raptors' Win over Lakers
It's easy to forget that the Toronto Raptors are the defending NBA champions, but former Indiana star OG Anunoby gave everyone a great reminder Saturday night that the Raptors aren't going anywhere.
His improved offensive game during the break attacked the rim with refined offensive dribble moves and appeared to be taking the kind of jump the Raptors have been longing for from Anunoby.
He was nearly perfect.
Anunoby went 8-for-9 from the field, including 3-for-3 from behind the arc for 23 points all the while slowing down LeBron James at the other end in a 107-92 Raptors victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
"OG was unbelievable," Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. "His growth and his maturity just continues to get better and I’m proud of him. The one thing about OG, man, guys understand him as much as they want to but he’s going to be really good in this league for a long time."
Anunoby started the game scoring seven of Toronto's first 13 points and flashed those improve new dribble moves when he attacked a closeout from Lakers center Anthony Davis and pulled a Pascal Siakam-esque spin move before laying it in.
"It helps my confidence knowing I can do it against anyone," Annunoby said of the spin move against Davis. "It’s just about getting the reps and staying with it and just being confident in my moves and being patient."
Finding consistent offense has been a struggle for Anunoby for much of the season. He entered the break on a pretty good stretch, scoring double-digits in six of his last seven games, but scoring more consistently is what Raptors coach Nick Nurse would really like to see.
"Every now and again he shows us these glimpses of where he can go, and as we all talk about all the time," Nurse said. "It’s doing those kind of games a little more consistently."
On the defensive end, Anunoby held James to just 20 points on 47% shooting. It showed just how much improvement he's made since his rookie season when James torched him for 38 points including the game-winner in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Anunoby missed much of last season with an injury, but the Raptors won a title anyway, led by MVP Kawhi Leonard. He moved on to the Los Angeles Clippers during the offseason, and it's been up to Anunoby to fill his role at the forward spot.
Anunoby is one of eight former Indiana players currently playing in the NBA. Cody Zeller, the ninth, didn't make it to this portion of the season because of the Charlotte Hornets' losing record. There are 22 of the NBA's 30 teams playing eight regular season games in the bubble in Orlando.
Here's what they have done so far since the season resumed on Thursday night.
Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers
Victor Oladipo scored 15 points in the Indiana Pacers' 127-121 win against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sstuday night. There had been some doubt as to whether Oladipo was going to play this shortened season, but he looked great in his 32 minutes of playing time
"It was good to just be out there competing, playing the game I love,'' he said after the game. "I'm glad I could go out there and help the team."
- Related story: Oladipo decides to play, shows up big. CLICK HERE
- Next game: Monday at 4 p.m. vs. the Washington Wizards.
Thomas Bryant, Washington Wizards
Thomas Bryant had 10 points and seven rebounds on his 23rd birthday in the Wizards 125-112 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Friday night. The Wizards are on the outside looking in in the playoff race right now, and need to make a run in these final seven games.
- Related story: Bryant returns after COVID scare. CLICK HERE
- Next game: Sunday at 2 p.m. vs. the Brooklyn Nets.
Yogi Ferrell, Sacramento Kings
Yogi Ferrell did not play in the Sacramento Kings' 129-120 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
- Next game: Sunday at 6 p.m. vs. the Orlando Magic.
Juwan Morgan, Utah Jazz
Juwan Morgan scored four points in seven minutes during the Jazz's 110-94 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night. The Jazz opened the NBA Restart on Thursday night with a win against the New Orleans Pelicans, but Morgan didn't play in that game.
- Next game: Monday at 9 p.m. vs. the Los Angeles Lakers
Romeo Langford, Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics lost 119-112 to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night, but Langford, a rookie with the Celtics, did not play.
- Next game: Sunday at 3:30 p.m. vs. the Portland Trail Blazers
Noah Vonleh, Denver Nuggets
Noah Vonley had two points in four minutes of playing time in the Denver Nuggets' 125-105 loss to the Miami Heat.
- Next game: Monday at 4 p.m. vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder
Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets
Eric Gordon injured his ankle during the Rockets and may be out for at least a week, if not longer.
- Related story: Ankle injury sidelines Gordon. CLICK HERE
- Next game: Sunday at 8:30 p.m. vs. the Milwaukee Bucks