Lakers player grades: L.A. fends off the Raptors

The Los Angeles Lakers finally mustered a win on Sunday over the formerly red-hot Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday after dropping 10 of their last 13 games. But it wouldn’t have meant anything without more wins.

They took the court again on Tuesday evening against the Toronto Raptors, a team that came in with a deceiving 15-21 record. It had won three of its last four contests since trading OG Anunoby to the New York Knicks for Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett, and it looked to be better than its record suggested.

The Lakers led by as many as eight points in the second quarter, but their shooting went cold, resulting in them trailing by two at halftime. They reasserted themselves in the third quarter by ratcheting up their defense and playing faster offensively, which led to nine straight made baskets. However, a six-point lead with under two minutes to go in the period turned into a one-point deficit going into the final 12 minutes.

Los Angeles went down by six points in the fourth quarter, but it quickly fought back to make things tight. With 3:52 left, Quickley committed his sixth foul when he threw an elbow at Cam Reddish while driving to the hoop, and it was ruled a flagrant foul. Reddish left the game after shooting the ensuing two free throws, and the game seemed to turn in favor of L.A. just enough from that point on, as it edged out Toronto for a 132-131 win.

The Lakers shot an outstanding 44.4% from 3-point range, although Toronto was a hot 48.6% from that distance. Ultimately, this game was decided on the free throw line. They attempted 36 foul shots and made 28 of them, while their visitors were just 8-of-13 from the charity stripe.

Los Angeles came in just 19th in scoring and 23rd in offensive rating, but this was a night in which it managed to ring up the scoreboard at a high rate. It was just the seventh time this season it reached the 130-point mark and only the second time in the last month, and it also had an impressive 34 assists.

The team will now prepare to play the Phoenix Suns, another squad that has plenty of star power but has been very disappointing this season, on Thursday.

Anthony Davis: A-plus

Davis went to work early by making each of his first five shots and seven of his first nine, giving him 16 first-quarter points. He then went quiet in the second and third quarters, as the Raptors played ball denial defense and shaded a second defender toward him to prevent L.A. from getting the ball to him inside.

But Davis started to get going again in the fourth quarter with 20 points, and defensively he had a big blocked shot against Scottie Barnes with under a minute left in the fourth period. Down the stretch, with the Lakers looking to close things out, he made eight free throws on as many attempts in the final 33.2 seconds. It was a very good sign considering he missed a number of crunch-time free throws last season.

The superstar big man finished with a season-high 41 points on 13-of-17 shooting and 13-of-14 from the charity stripe while also making both of his 3-point attempts. He also added 11 rebounds and six assists in 40 minutes, and overall, he was clutch with a capital C.

Taurean Prince: B

Prince made a decent contribution in this game. He hit half of his eight shot attempts, including two of his six 3-point attempts, to score 11 points while also chipping in 11 points, four rebounds and two steals in 34 minutes.

Cam Reddish: B-plus/A-minus

The Lakers have needed Reddish to contribute more from 3-point range, and on Tuesday, he did exactly that. He hit 4-of-6 shots from that distance, giving him 13 points in 23 minutes.

He also took one for the team when he absorbed Quickley’s blow late in the fourth quarter. While Reddish didn’t return, the fact that Quickley fouled out on that play left the Raptors without one of their key offensive creators and outside shooters.

Austin Reaves: C-plus

Reaves struggled offensively early on, as he missed two of his first nine shots. However, he hit a big 3-pointer with 3:06 left in the fourth quarter, converted two big free throws off a foul with 2:10 remaining and hit two more big foul shots with 14.0 seconds left.

While he finished with just 11 points, he also had seven assists and no turnovers in 32 minutes.

It’s fair to say Reaves is now in a shooting slump, at least from long distance. Including Tuesday’s game, he’s 4-of-28 from beyond the arc in his last six contests. But as he showed against the Raptors, he can still help his team win when he’s having trouble putting the ball in the hoop.

LeBron James: B-plus

James started off quietly with just five points in the first half. But he started to pick up the pace in the third quarter, putting up a dozen points in the period.

He ended the game with 22 points on 8-of-17 from the field, 12 assists, five rebounds, one steal and one block. By going 2-of-5 from downtown, he is continuing his excellent outside shooting this season, which has been a big key to what is looking like an outstanding year overall for him.

Jarred Vanderbilt: B-minus

On this night, Vanderbilt grabbed six rebounds in 18 minutes. He did a pretty good job of moving without the ball and flashing into the paint, which led to a few easy scoring opportunities for him, even though he only finished with three points.

Christian Wood: A-minus

Wood continued his resurgence on Tuesday with 14 points on 5-of-10 overall shooting and 2-of-4 from long-range, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot in 24 minutes.

Head coach Darvin Ham has been criticized for some of his lineup decisions, including not playing Wood more, but he played the big man for the first 8:01 of the fourth quarter on Tuesday and allowed Wood to continue to stay in rhythm and help the team.


D'Angelo Russell: B/B-plus

In his second game back from a bruised tailbone, Russell was solid. He scored 11 points, made half of his eight shot attempts and dished off five assists while adding one rebound in 17 minutes.

At one point in the game, he appeared to talk some trash to Raptors guard Dennis Schroder, who was his teammate last season. Fortunately, Schroder didn’t hurt his old team that much, as he scored 10 points and had six assists in 30 minutes off the bench.

Max Christie: B

Christie made another nice contribution by hitting both of his shot attempts, one of which was a trey, to score six points while also chipping in four rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes.

Once Reddish went out of the game following Quickley’s flagrant foul, Christie took his place for the rest of the game, giving the second-year wing some valuable crunch-time experience.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire