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This season always should have been about Scottie Barnes.

Whoever fooled themselves into thinking this Toronto Raptors could contend this season was sorely mistaken. Yes, last season was impressive. Yes, expectations were high coming into the year. But it wasn’t long before reality set in.

Barnes is good.

The Raptors are not.

That much was clear Friday night as Barnes set a career-high with 32 points, trying to will the Raptors to a victory over the LeBron James-less Los Angeles Lakers. It was of no use. A dreadful performance from Toronto’s second unit proved fatal as the Raptors fell 122-112, finishing this crucial West Coast road trip 1-4.

It looked promising for a little while. Toronto's starters came out firing. Barnes was aggressive out of the gate and Fred VanVleet kept the Raptors organized, running the pick-and-roll with Jakob Poeltl. An O.G. Anunoby three, one of three in the first half, put Toronto up 15 in the first quarter.

That wouldn't last.

Toronto's bench showed no ability to keep the game close. Precious Achiuwa took two quick personal fouls and missed some ugly jumpers. Gary Trent Jr.'s shooting funk carried over for the second straight game with an 0-for-5 performance in the first half, finishing the night with zero points in 21 minutes with a negative 27 plus-minus.

Anunoby did a fantastic job shutting down Anthony Davis who tallied just eight points, but Toronto had no answers for D’Angelo Russell and Jarred Vanderbilt. The Lakers whizzed the ball around with ease, beating the Raptors in transition and carving Toronto up with 61.4% shooting heading into the half. At one point, Rui Hachimura beat the Raptors down the court for an easy pair after a made three from Anunoby.

Unable to trust the second unit, Toronto rode the starters in the third. Anunoby looked unstoppable, connecting on an alley-oop slam on a great find from Poeltl and then nailing a fadeaway jumper over Davis, part of an 11-for-11 start to the night that ended on a 28-footer he missed above the break. He finished the night with 31 points on 12-for-14 shooting with five steals.

Toronto jumped ahead by 12 in the second quarter but, once again, the bench couldn’t keep the lead. Once the Raptors starters checked out, the Lakers took over again. A bad pass from Chris Boucher created a fastbreak opportunity for Russell. Moments later, Austin Reaves beat Toronto on a defensive cross-up, throwing down a two-handed slam as the Lakers jumped ahead by double-digits and never looked back.

With the loss, the Raptors fell 2.5 games back of the Atlanta Hawks who are beginning to pull away in the eighth seed in the conference. Washington, meanwhile, sits just 0.5 games back in the 10th seed in the East. 

Up Next: Denver Nuggets

The Raptors will have a couple of days off before playing host to Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET.