The Toronto Raptors beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 102-93, on Monday night, which should hardly have come as a surprise considering the Lakers finished the night with 18 losses out of their first 21 games of the season.
Byron Scott says hopefully the line-up change leads to "better energy & better starts, one of the main reasons I made the change." (on TWC) — Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) December 7, 2015
Prior to the tip-off, Lakers coach Byron Scott announced changes to his starting lineup, citing that he wanted his team to get off to better starts. The Lakers had previously started down 9-0 against Atlanta on Friday and 15-0 in Detroit only one night earlier on Sunday. However, Scott's decision to sacrifice rookie D'Angelo Russell and second-year Julius Randle in favor of veteran Lou Williams and rookie Larry Nance Jr. was met with skepticism from national basketball writers.
Despite the changes being met with criticism and anger on social media, Scott's rationale appeared to work. Five minutes into Monday's game, the Lakers led by seven points. The Lakers had, seemingly, avoided digging a massive hole to start a game. Also, the purple and gold were assisted by Kobe Bryant not over-shooting and playing efficient basketball. Bryant finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists on 50 percent shooting on the night, which was the first time Bryant has shot 50 percent or better from the field this season.
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Both Russell and Randle expressed disappointment at falling out of the starting lineup prior to the game, but Randle appeared undeterred by the switch. The 21-year-old managed 15 points and 11 rebounds in only 21 minutes on the court. In those sparse 21 minutes, Randle managed to record his fifth double-double of the past six games.
Russell, however, failed to find his rhythm early in the game and entering halftime with no points and no assists. In his 11-minute cameo of the second half, the 19-year-old managed to be more productive and added nine points and two assists.
After all the hoopla regarding lineups and minutes, the Lakers entered the fourth quarter tied with the Toronto Raptors in a road game. Bryant would hit a couple buckets to bring the Lakers within two points, the second of which came with fewer than five minutes to play. However, LA would get no closer.
For Toronto, Kyle Lowry finished with 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Center Bismack Biyombo would be especially vital down the stretch, as the 23-year-old from the Democratic Republic of the Congo would finish with 15 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks.
Next, the Lakers play in Minnesota on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.