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Russell leads Lakers past Raptors 128-111 | Globalnews.ca

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TORONTO – After the most difficult time of his life, RJ Barrett finally returned to his “sanctuary.”

Barrett, from Mississauga, Ont., led all scorers with 28 points as his Toronto Raptors lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 128-111 on Tuesday. It was Barrett’s first time in an NBA game since the death of his younger brother Nathan Barrett.

“It felt good to be back with the guys,” said Barrett, who said after Friday’s practice that basketball was his sanctuary. “Playing definitely made me feel better.”

Barrett added six assists and six rebounds as Toronto (23-52) lost its 14th straight game. The Raptors’ record for longest losing streak is 17 consecutive games, set during the 1997-98 season.

Immanuel Quickley also returned to Toronto’s lineup on Tuesday, scoring 20 points and six assists. Quickley took time off after his uncle Shawn Hamilton died of cancer on March 20, missing six games. Barrett, whose 19-year-old brother died March 14, missed nine games.

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Barrett and Quickley played together on the New York Knicks, then were traded to Toronto on December 30. Coming back into the Raptors lineup after their personal losses meant a lot to Barrett.

“During the whole process, we were constantly monitoring each other,” Barrett said. “I’ve known him for a long time, we’ve been together for four years, so it was really hard to go through that, but having someone like that to talk to definitely helps.”

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D’Angelo Russell scored 25 points and added seven assists as Los Angeles (43-33) won back-to-back games.

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However, all eyes were on future Hall of Famer LeBron James and star center Anthony Davis. James had 23 points and nine assists while Davis had a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

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“There’s always been a mutual respect and a loving respect every time I come here and play here,” said James, who was applauded every time he made a big play. “These fans m “They always appreciate it and I just try to always return the favor when I go out on the field.”

Bruce Brown (right knee soreness) left the game in the fourth quarter and did not return. His injury was just the latest in a series of health issues for Toronto.

Star forward Scottie Barnes (fractured left hand), center Jakob Poeltl (torn ligament in left hand), guard Ochai Agbaji (contusion of right hip), forward Chris Boucher (partial torn MCL) , guard DJ Carton (sprained right ankle) and Jontay. Porter (personal reasons) is already out.

Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic said the return of Barrett and Quickley to the lineup has done more than just improve the on-court product.

“Basketball is an escape for all of us,” Rajakovic said. “It’s something that the players love, the coaches love, you love, everyone loves.

“This is our escape, this is our safe place and we have a chance to make a living playing basketball.”

Toronto is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but the remaining seven games of the season still count.

The Raptors’ first-round pick in this summer’s NBA draft is conditional, following a trade to the San Antonio Spurs last season for Poeltl. Toronto has the sixth-worst record in the NBA, but if the May 12 draft lottery lands them seventh or higher, that pick will go to San Antonio.

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The Raptors have a 37.2 percent lottery chance of moving into one of the top four spots in the draft and a 9 percent chance of being drafted first overall.

Davis and James had nine points each in the third as the Lakers broke the game open, with a 17-5 run in the final four minutes of the quarter, lifting the visitors to a 100-79 lead. Barrett put a sellout crowd of 19,800 on their feet with a thunderous dunk with 2.1 seconds left in the period.

Los Angeles, trying to gain ground in the Western Conference playoff race, didn’t let up in the fourth quarter, leading by as many as 32 points. Lakers head coach Darvin Ham benched all of his starters with six minutes remaining.

“It absolutely helps. Every minute counts,” James, 39, said of the match played less than 29 minutes. “I was able to come back here and start the treatment and my preparation, and start preparing my body, hopefully, for tomorrow night.”

UP NEXT – Toronto visits the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

The Lakers continue their East Coast swing Wednesday with a stop in Washington, D.C.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2024.

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&copy 2024 The Canadian Press



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