By: Josh Weinstein
Be sure to visit homestand.ca to purchase your tickets for the Hoop Talks Toronto Basketball Summit on March 28. Doug Smith, Sherman Hamilton, Paul Jones, Michael Grange, Eric Koreen, and Ashley Docking will be there. Will you?
The Raptors look to right the ship following a disheartening loss to the Utah Jazz when they welcome the Los Angeles Lakers to town for an inter-conference matchup. Sunday marks the first meeting between these two teams since way back on October 27, when the Raptors edged the Lakers 101-92.
Following his 28-point, 14-rebound, 4-block explosion, all eyes are on Jonas Valanciunas ahead of this one. Against a thin Lakers frontcourt, JV should be able to have a field day. Surely, he won’t be as dominant as he was against Rudy Gobert and the Jazz, but another strong performance can be expected from him. If Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan return to form (which they should against a poor Lakers defence), having the trio of the Raptors backcourt and Valanciunas operating at peak efficiency should overwhelm Los Angeles rather quickly.
Los Angeles Lakers
Lonzo Ball is expected to sit once again. It will be his seventh straight game on the sidelines, as Ball continues to recover from an MCL sprain. While head coach Luke Walton hasn’t ruled out a return for his prized point guard on the team’s current road trip, expect the Lakers brass to air on the side of caution in Toronto. They’ve made it clear they have no intentions of rushing Lonzo back before he’s ready to return. In Ball’s absence, watch out for Jordan Clarkson and Kyle Kuzma. Clarkson has been on fire his past four games – all Lakers wins – averaging nearly 26 points per game over that span. Meanwhile, Kuzma has been incredibly consistent for a rookie with averages of 16.5 points per game and 5.9 boards on the season.
Tip-off is set for 6:00 PM ET. Here are the projected starting lineups: