Don't let the score fool you, this one was never close.
On the second night of a back-to-back without Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, and four bench pieces, the Los Angeles Lakers jumped on the Toronto Raptors early. They nailed 3-pointers one after another and watched as Toronto couldn't muster much of anything in the first half. It got so ugly the Raptors fell behind by 32 points late in the second. Of course, Toronto made it 'close' from a scoreboard standpoint, losing by 110-101, but things were never really close.
And yet, Raptors coach Nick Nurse seemed to be able to find the silver lining in an otherwise disappointing night. He looked at how his team outscored L.A. by 17 points in the second half and felt good, at least relatively, with how things played out.
"I'm super proud of what we did after digging a hole," Nurse said. "It's gonna happen sometimes when you're on a back-to-back or it's just one team starts making a ton of 3s and you don't, right? What are you going to do then? I thought I was proud of our fight."
Thanks to a 17-point fourth-quarter from Pascal Siakam, Toronto pulled things to within 10 in the final seconds of regulation. Normally, a 10-point deficit in the final seconds would be enough to put your hands up, congratulate the other team, and head to the locker room, but not for Nurse. The referees blew a call with 18.3 seconds to go in regulation and Nurse wanted to make sure they got things right. He challenged the call and was eventually vindicated.
"It was fairly obvious that we took the ball and didn’t touch ‘em," Nurse said. "I know the game’s out of hand, but what’s right is right, right?"
While the Raptors did fight back a little bit on Tuesday, the bigger story may have actually been the real fight on the court. Late in the first quarter OG Anunoby and Dennis Schroder got tangled up leading to Anunoby and Montrezl Harrell getting ejected.
Based on the footage it certainly looks like a few players illegally left the benches to engage in the altercation and it wouldn't be too surprising if the NBA doled out suspensions to the players involved. That could make things even tougher for the Raptors who were down to just eight players once Anunoby left the game on Tuesday.
Had this been last year's Lakers team, a night like this would have been understandable. It would have made sense if this year's Raptors were blown out by a team loaded with superstar talent. But right now, the Lakers are playing without LeBron James and Anthony Davis and came into Tuesday night having lost six of their last nine games. This shouldn't have been the kind of game it turned out to be.
It makes you wonder if that game-winner from Gary Trent Jr. on Monday night was that helpful. Winning is always nice, but at this point in the season a few more losses, especially against the Washington Wizards might be beneficial when it comes time for the NBA lottery.
Up Next: Chicago Bulls
For those still devoted to Raptors playoff action this season, Thursday night's game against the Chicago Bulls will be a big one. Chicago currently sits two games ahead of Toronto for the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference and a spot in the final play-in tournament.