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Apr 1, 2024 5:17 pm

LeBron James, Lakers in a flow with Raptors ahead

LeBron James

The Los Angeles Lakers can assure themselves of a winning six-game road trip with a victory over the depleted Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night.

Behind a 40-point effort from LeBron James that included 9-for-10 shooting from 3-point range, the Lakers (42-33) defeated the Brooklyn Nets 116-104 Sunday to improve to 3-1 on the trip the team eyed as a major late-season challenge.

Both the Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers had to vacate their shared building last week so it could play host to the NCAA Tournament’s West Regional semifinals and final.

The Raptors (23-51) have dropped 13 in a row after losing 135-120 Sunday to the Philadelphia 76ers in the third of four consecutive games at home.

The Lakers have now won six of their past seven games after withstanding a fourth-quarter rally by the Nets.

James took control of the game with 17 points in the fourth quarter, including four 3-pointers.

“The long ball in our game is definitely a momentum-shifter,” said James said, who also had 25 points in the second half.

The nine 3-pointers matched a career best for James.

“Just extremely thankful that he packed the cape on the road trip,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said.

James had help. Anthony Davis had 24 points and 14 rebounds. Rui Hachimura had his third double-double in the past four games with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Hachimura, Davis and James combined to shoot 30-for-41 (73.2 percent) from the field.

Gabe Vincent returned from a knee injury to add to the Lakers’ depth. He came off the bench to play 14 minutes and score two points after playing just once since the start of November.

James was asked after the game on Sunday how much longer he will play in the NBA.

“Not very long. Not very long. I’m on the other side, obviously, of the hill,” James said. “So I’m not going to play another 21 years, that’s for damn sure. But not very long. I don’t know what or when that door will close as far as when I retire, but I don’t have much time left.”

The Raptors have won seven of their past nine home games against the Lakers, dating to March 2015.

The Lakers won the first meeting of the season between the teams 132-131 on Jan. 9 in Los Angeles. Gary Trent Jr. is the only Raptors player not currently listed on Toronto’s injury report who played in that game.

The Raptors have either won or tied the season series with Los Angeles in each of the previous 11 seasons (2012-13 to 2022-23).

Trent had 23 points for the Raptors in Sunday’s loss to the 76ers. Jordan Nwora had 19 points with Kelly Olynyk and Bruce Brown each contributing 18 points.

Olynyk had 11 assists Sunday and has 43 assists over his past five games, the most in a five-game span in his career.

The Raptors continued to play without Scottie Barnes (hand), Jakob Poeltl (finger), RJ Barrett (personal) and Immanuel Quickley (personal). Barrett and Quickley could return Tuesday.

The longest Raptors’ losing streak is 17 games during the 1997-98 season.

“It’s different lineups every night,” Nwora said. “We’re all growing together. It’s not always just going to be straight up, you know, it’s going to be ups and downs.”

Brown played one of his better games on Sunday since being traded to Toronto on Jan. 17 with Nwora in a deal that sent Pascal Siakam to the Indiana Pacers. Brown has been hampered by a knee issue.

“I could finally bend my knee,” Brown said. “I don’t know if you can tell but when I’m running, I’m running on one leg, so it’s been tough. Just a lot of wear but it’ll be better this offseason.”

–Field Level Media

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