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Russell leads Lakers past Raptors 128-111; Toronto’s losing skid stretches to 14

D’Angelo Russell scored 25 points and added seven assists as the Los Angeles Lakers rolled past the Toronto Raptors 128-111 on Tuesday.

LeBron James had 23 points and nine assists as Los Angeles (43-33) won back-to-back games. Anthony Davis had a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

RJ Barrett of Mississauga, Ont., led all scorers with 28 points, adding six assists and six boards as Toronto (23-52) lost its 14th game in a row. Immanuel Quickley had 20 points and six assists.

Both players returned to the Raptors’ lineup after missing several games as they mourned the deaths of loved ones.

Quickley took a leave after his uncle Shawn Hamilton died of cancer on March 20, missing six games. Barrett, whose 19-year-old brother Nathan Barrett died on March 14, missed nine games.

The Raptors dropped 17 consecutive games during the 1997-98 season for the longest losing streak in franchise history.

Bruce Brown (right knee soreness) left the game in the fourth quarter and didn’t return. His injury was just the latest in a series of health setbacks for Toronto.

Although the Raptors are mathematically eliminated from the post-season, they still have some stakes left in the season.

Toronto’s first-round pick in this summer’s NBA Draft is conditional, following a trade with the San Antonio Spurs last season for Jakob Poeltl. The Raptors have the sixth-worst record in the NBA but if the draft lottery on May 12 shuffles them to seventh or higher that pick goes to San Antonio.

Hundreds of yellow Lakers jerseys dotted the lower bowl at Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday, with James – a surefire Hall of Famer – getting a huge ovation when he jogged onto the court for warm-ups and again when he and Davis were named during pre-game introductions.

Quickley and Barrett had an immediate impact, scoring Toronto’s first eight points of the game and assisting on the Raptors’ next four points, all scored by rookie Gradey Dick.

Despite that hot start, the Lakers closed out the first quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 34-25 lead. Barrett had nine points in the opening period and Quickley had eight.

L.A. led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter, but Toronto narrowed that gap with a 9-3 run to finish the half. Barrett led all scorers in the second with 10 points even as the Lakers held a 64-58 advantage at intermission.

Davis and James had nine points apiece in the third as the Lakers blew the game wide open, with a 17-5 run in the final four minutes of the quarter lifting the visitors to a 100-79 lead. Barrett brought the sold-out crowd of 19,800 to their feet with a thunderous dunk with 2.1 seconds left in the period for his 26th point of the game.

Los Angeles, trying to gain ground in the competitive Western Conference playoff chase, didn’t let up in the fourth quarter, leading by as many as 32 points. Lakers head coach Darvin Ham put all his starters on the bench with six minutes left to play and Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic followed suit, with both teams giving their depth players extended time on the court.

SOUTH ASIAN HERITAGE NIGHT – The Raptors celebrated the Greater Toronto Area’s South Asian communities throughout the game, with musical performances and dance numbers. That included Subhadra Vijayakumar playing the national anthems on a South Indian carnatic violin, a halftime performance by Punjabi-Canadian singer Jazzy B, and a timeout performance by Tamil Canadian mridamgist Yanchan Produced.

UP NEXT – Toronto visits the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

The Lakers continue their East Coast swing on Wednesday with a stop in Washington, D.C.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2024.

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