Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 110-101 win against the Toronto Raptors in Tampa Bay:
1) Flight and Fight
Coach Frank Vogel wanted to see some scrap in his Lakers, especially after they fell flat against the Clippers on Sunday at Staples Center.
“How mad are we? We got embarrassed Sunday against the Clippers. We were all on a long flight, angry about how that game went. And our mindset was to take it out on the Raptors, and we did,” Vogel said. “Built with great ball movement, and an angry, nasty defensive disposition. We executed our coverage with a high level of focus and detail, and we brought a great disposition, great defensive disposition to the game.”
Yeah, the Lakers made shots. And yeah, the Raptors were without Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet. Still, the Lakers were quicker to loose basketballs and tougher on the boards.
And speaking of fight, the Lakers showed some early in the game when Montrezl Harrell came to the aide of Dennis Schroder after Schroder got slammed to the court.
The incident happened after Schroder fouled O.G. Anunoby hard, grabbing him around the waist to try and keep him from falling. Anunoby lifted Schroder up by his leg and tossed him to the court, with Harrell running in to take on whoever he saw.
“My beef was with anybody who didn’t have a Lakers jersey, man,” Harrell said. “That’s who my beef was with. Simple as that.”
Fittingly, Wrestlemania will be held in Tampa Bay this weekend, with the Lakers and the Raptors kicking things off.
“I don’t know what to say. I just tried to foul him hard that he don’t get an and-one, that’s it. I mean … but what he did is just unnecessary,” Schroder said. “Gotta go to the WWE with that. Not with basketball. So that’s it.”
3) Making a Marc
After the Lakers beat the Kings last week, Marc Gasol was still clearly stung from the team’s decision to go with Andre Drummond as its starting center. But after leading the Lakers to a win over his former team, the Raptors, Gasol was in a much clearer headspace — even with the Lakers poised to go back to Drummond as soon as Thursday.
“I’m fully committed to the team. I’ll stay ready when my number is called. I understand we have to get Andre acclimated to what we’re trying to do,” he said. “We have to get back our two main guys — ‘Bron and A.D., whenever they come back — and they have to get that group going and get some chemistry going with the first unit for them. I’ll be ready no matter what happens. No matter if it’s five minutes, 10 minutes, if it’s whatever position. If it’s some nights, I might not play. But I’ll stay ready, no matter what.
“I made that commitment. It’s been a process for me to reassess this situation a little bit, but like I said, I’m fully committed to this team. So, whatever is thrown at me, I’ll be ready.”
4) Chief ‘Kieff
The Lakers’ hot shooting early gave them enough cushion, helping them survive turnover problems and some rocky second-half shooting.
No one was hotter early than Markieff Morris, who continues to be productive in the starting lineup with Anthony Davis sidelined. He hit all three of his triples in the first quarter, eventually scoring 15 points to go with nine rebounds.
Morris has scored in double figures in six of the last eight games.
“He’s been like the unsung hero of this stretch,” Vogel said. “I don’t think anybody’s talking about ‘Kieff’s contributions enough. And it’s not just on the offensive side of the ball. Like he scored the ball tonight. He’s having to guard seemingly an elite sort of [small forward, power forward] each night and doing a great job with that while carrying some of the load offensively as well. He got red-hot in the first half from behind the arc, and in the post and mid-range. He was doing it in a bunch of ways. And his toughness exemplifies who we want to be in terms of being a team that plays more physical than our opponent.”
5) Ben in a minute
The Lakers added guard Ben McLemore for the rest of the season, the deal becoming official sometime during the first half of their win.
“He’s a guy that we had to know where he was at all times in that Houston series because he’s such an elite shooter,” Vogel said. “And like I said, we’re trying to win a championship up here and so as much firepower as we can get, as many weapons as we can get, we’re going to try to get. And Ben instantly elevates our ability to knock down 3s on the backside when double-teams come and we can play the drive-and-kick game that the modern NBA is made on.
“So we’re thrilled about his addition and looking forward to getting him into some minutes and into our program.”
Vogel said McLemore should be available Thursday against the Heat.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.