Raptors look to maintain dominance against Lakers (Oct 27, 2017)

October 27, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- The Toronto Raptors will try for their fifth straight victory over the Los Angeles Lakers when they continue their season-long, six-game road trip on Friday night at Staples Center.

The Raptors have swept the season series against the Lakers the past two years, most recently getting 41 points from point guard Kyle Lowry in a 123-114 victory at Staples Center on New Year's Day. The 41 points tied the second-highest scoring performance in Lowry's 12-year NBA career.

Toronto (2-2) has dropped its past two games and is on the verge of falling below .500 after five games for the first time since 2014.

The young Lakers (2-2) are building confidence after erasing a 20-point deficit late in the third quarter Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans and taking the lead in the fourth before losing 119-112. They came back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter on Wednesday against the visiting Washington Wizards and won 102-99 in overtime.

Six Lakers players are averaging 13 points or better, and that doesn't include rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, who is averaging 11.8 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

Ball is still trying to shoot the ball more effectively and consistently, however. He is down to 31.6 percent from the field after going 3 of 13 against the Pelicans and 2 of 11 against the Wizards.

"It'd be a lot easier to win if I made some shots, but I'm gonna rebound," Ball said. "I'm gonna try to defend every time I can, and I'm gonna find the open man."

Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan is averaging 23.3 points through the first four games, and the Los Angeles-area native should be motivated for his seventh career game against the Lakers at Staples Center. He is averaging 19 points in those games and shooting 47.3 percent.

Jakob Poeltl of the Raptors and Kyle Kuzma of the Lakers played two seasons together at the University of Utah, and both have been providing strong reserve minutes for their teams this season.

Poeltl, a second-year 7-foot center, posted 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds in a 117-112 loss at the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday. He grabbed 11 rebounds on the offensive end.

He has helped cover for center Jonas Valanciunas, one of the top 15 rebounders in the league last season who has missed the past two games with a sprained ankle. Valanciunas is doubtful for the game against the Lakers.

"With Jonas out, we're going to have to play some smaller lineups now, but I don't think my role really changed that much," Poeltl told the Toronto Star after the loss to Golden State. "I'm still trying to do the same things, it's just a little bit more responsibilities I have to take on."

Kuzma, a rookie power forward, has scored 15, 20 and 15 points in his past three games, shooting 19 of 35 from the field in that span.

Kuzma would be building toward a possible starting role, but the Lakers are deep at power forward with starter Larry Nance Jr. and backup Julius Randle, both of whom are also coming off strong performance against the Wizards.

Nance matched his career high with 18 points, and Randle had 11 points and nine rebounds while playing the final eight minutes of regulation and all five minutes of overtime.