Anunoby shows scrimmages were no fluke as Lowry breaks out vs. Lakers
OG Anunoby's offensive improvements seem to be more than just a few impressive scrimmage games.
The Toronto Raptors' 23-year-old defensive star was the talk of the Raptors' scrimmage season. He showed off a newfound offensive aggressiveness, attacking the rim with refined offensive dribble moves and appeared to be taking the kind of jump the Raptors have been longing for from Anunoby.
But do a few impressive scrimmage games mean anything?
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 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.
Lowry's night wasn't too shabby either. The Raptors 34-year-old veteran showed no signs of rust, leading Toronto with a game-high 33 points, a game-high 14 rebounds, and six assists. Twelve of those points came from the charity stripe, where Lowry had 15 free throw attempts for the first time since 2017.
"He was vintage Kyle tonight," Nurse said. "He was scoring and flying around and taking charges and competing and getting us some critical buckets and keeping things ticking over, he was great."
Lowry gave the Raptors an 83-80 lead with 6:51 to go in the fourth quarter when he hit a 3-pointer to quiet the Lakers bench. Three minutes later, he put the final nail in the Lakers' coffin, hitting a 3-pointer over Kyle Kuzma's outstretched arms to make it 97-86.
"We have too many competitive guys out there that want to go out there and play and hoop and win games, especially playing against a team like the Lakers, a team that is No. 1 in the West. The competitive juices get going," Lowry said.
Lowry took over the NBA lead in charges this season with 31 when he stepped in front of a driving Dion Waiters midway through the second quarter.
Prior to the game, players from both teams took a knee during the playing of the national anthems. Nobody on either team stood for either anthem as players throughout the NBA continue their peaceful protests demanding racial equality.
“Unbelievable," Lowry said of the protests. "I tip my hat off to the Lakers and their organization for staying down there with us during the Canadian anthem."
Lowry said being on his knee through both national anthems made him realize just how long Derek Chauvin spent knelt on George Floyd's neck.
"To think about another human being kneeling on another human being’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, that’s a bad thought to have," Lowry said. "Those are the things that went through my head."
The Raptors will have Sunday off before returning on Monday for a 1:30 p.m. ET tipoff against the Miami Heat