The Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors were involved in a chicken game as the NBA trading deadline was reduced to minutes at the end of March.
The Lakers arrived late for the party and tried to see Kyle Lori from Toronto after the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat appeared, not going to meet the Raptors’ request.
Los Angeles was ready to part ways with their starting point guard Dennis Schroeder – because they are interested in being able to sign him into free company this summer – with Kentavius Caldwell-Pope. It would have provided the required salary to match Lori’s .5 30.5 million.
But after that things stick. The Raptors wanted a future first-round draft pick and / or 20-year-old division Dylan Horton-Tucker.
The Lakers would not go the extra mile, especially with Horton-Tucker, which was a sticky point, and by the time the deadline was over, Lori was still a rapper.
In the eyes of the lockers, that is a mistake. They would have been the best player in the trade, and they would have improved the contradictions of a title when LeBron James was playing his prime decision. Was thinking too much of everything.
Or at least Lori was determined to prove it during the Raptors’ surprise and joyous 121-114 victory over the Lakers on Sunday night.
Lori was fantastic with a season-high of 37 points and 11 assists, shooting 12 of 12 from the ground and 13 of 8 from depth, making it the best of the three seasons.
The fact that the Lakers aren’t ready to part with the relatively unproven Horton-Tucker for the future Hall of Fame with the championship ring should be a necessary spark for Lori, shouldn’t it?
Well, at least not on the record:
“There was no extra motivation,” Lori said, seemingly playing alternately with someone in the crowd at Staples Center, talking to Lakers assistant coach Jason Kid about golf plans, and generally enjoying his best performance in his 601st game as a raptor. “I wanted to help the team win tonight. There was no extra motivation for anything.”
His energy still has an intrinsic source, he said. He was fun and determined to find happiness in the difficult season.
“That’s a key,” Lori said. “Whatever happens in the rest of this game, we’ll have fun,” I said halfway through, OK. I think we always have one kind of thing, you know, marching around each other and having fun. This game is fun and fun game and when you have fun, things like that happen. We went out there, we had fun tonight, you know … it was great. “
Pascal Siagam scored 39 points and had 13 rebounds to go with four assists, two steals and two blocks in one of the best games of his career.
“Those guys played well, those two guys,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. “They’re awesome, electrification, I thought.”
The Lakers aren’t having much fun right now as they go into the playoffs on a deep decline as they have lost three straight – with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in two in a row – and seven sixes, and eight their last 11.
Makes it worse, James Came off the floor Midway ankle worsened again through the fourth, which knocked him out of 20 games – a very long absence due to injury in his career.
The Lockers are tied with Portland and Dallas and have a combined 36-28 record with eight games. The opportunity to defend their title through play-off competition is suddenly very real.
The Raptors advanced 27-38 and took a game in Washington. There are now seven games to build on the 10th-placed guides to the final for the play-offs.
It’s a long shot, but on nights like this, it’s hard to plot.
The Raptors – even though they were playing back-to-back on the second night – without Fred Vanweed (hip), OG Anunobi (calf), Chris Pacher (knee) and Paul Watson (knee) – have been in business since the start. Siacom have been in touch with Toronto for 17 first-quarter points since the Lakers advanced to a 38-32 lead.
The Raptors came out on top in the second quarter, pushing the pace and sending the ball with a hiss, making the Lakers look awkward and slow. When Lori Horn went to a beach and was plowed by James, it was the end of 23-6, which gave Toronto a 72-59 lead. Lori was 19 in the half. The Lakers were unable to pull any close after the third quarter and had to cross 99-84 holes early in the fourth.
For a moment it seemed they would do it, and LeBron made a heavy lift. He led the Lakers to 13-2, reducing Toronto’s 21-point inflation to 10 late in the fourth quarter, to go with 9:39. But Lori doesn’t have it. He hit two triples on either side of the 16-foot jumper, pushing the Raptors’ lead to 16, to play with 7:53.
The Lockers kept pushing – a Kyle Kuzma reduced the lead to six within three minutes – but it was enough to keep the Lockers in the Gulf in the Toronto free-throw line.
The Lakers had 24 points from Guzm ,n and five figures in double figures, but James had only 19 points to set up his five turning points, and Davis stumbled on his way to 12 points.
In contrast, Lori had a riot. He was playing for the crowd. He was playing with his teammates. He had a show, working title: “You Can Keep Me, I’m going to regret what you didn’t do.”
The missed opportunity to add Lori – a high-speed, two-way playmaker used by laggards – is not the only link between the last two teams to win the NBA title.
Raptors may be a few days away from the expiration date of their season, but they can provide some more inspiration to the lockers and they will definitely need some.
It should not be like this. The Lakers won the bubble in 2020 and then added Schrder – now out due to health and safety protocols – to Montreal Harrell and Mark Casol off-season. They added all-star Andre Drummond twice that season after being bought by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It must be the Lakers degree to lose.
But as Los Angeles prepared to face the staggering Raptors, they were in crisis – losing five of the last six games, digging to avoid a play-off and resigning to become the first team to survive and win the championship. Four best seven series without homecourt advantage.
James and Davis are trying to return to the elite after missing 56 games together due to injury, while they are trying to find chemistry with players who have not worked before.
“It’s a big challenge, but we’ll be testing,” said Lockers head coach Frank Vogel. “Of course, none of us felt that way [there] LeBron and AD. Get enough time to get back to where their rhythm and time and conditioning are needed and to integrate the guys… and get the chemistry it should be, but we’re going to do it better, it’s going to be enough, but the challenge is significant. “
Raptors can relate to the lockers challenge. Or at least some of the declining ones from the title team. The Raptors played just 160 minutes into the first round of the playoffs, between the acquisition of Casolin’s trade deadline – now a Laker, although he has not played against his old team – and Kavi Leonard’s load management strategy.
But we know how it went.
Is the sequel exaggerated?
“I think it could probably be exaggerated, I think it could be a factor,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. “I think you’ll probably handle different scenarios. When you combine a multi – year All – Star and experienced player like Check, he will fit in a little faster than you would if you were waiting for some juniors. I think that’s part of it. [the media] We always try to make a big deal out of going to the playoffs we played together, and I was like the other side: I thought it was still a two month process, we will grow. We definitely did. “
Lori is a big reason. As a leader that season he took it one step further and worked fairly around his team to deliver what the team needed at any given time, the most obvious example being his 11-point burst to win the Raptors Championship-victory in Game Final 6.
This is the moxie and passion of the moment when any team tries to win a title, the Lakers are no exception.
Lori is a man chemistry set, in addition to his other skills.
On Sunday night, Lori – intentionally or not – sent a strong reminder to Los Angeles of what they could have, and the message was sent in bold letters, all caps.