Lakers trailing Clippers in Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes

Tory Lanez

Beasley has dealt with a number of angst towards him in his National Basketball Association career, and so maybe this veteran, non-playing role with the Lakers will do something to help his image around the league.

The Lakers followed up perhaps their best win of the season on Saturday with one of the worst first quarters in franchise history on Sunday.

It didn't matter. The Raptors (9-1) came out hot and led the Lakers by 31 at one point in the first quarter. But it isn't enough as the Lakers fall 121-107. As a member of the San Antonio Spurs, Leonard went 17-2 in games against the Kings, including 11-1 at Sacramento.

The Lakers' poor form had seen the pressure mount on Luke Walton, with reports suggesting that his head coach job was on the line.

"The plan is for a little while here to not let him play [both games of] the back-to-backs", Nurse said. "We're going game by game".

ESPN's Tim Bontemps polled a number of league execs, and the popular opinion was that Leonard would indeed leave Toronto for LA next summer - but to join the Clippers, not the Lakers. "There is a sense of freedom and joy that comes when a top player like that - obviously you don't want him to be hurt, but there is no pressure, you play free". The center scored from 15 of his 17 shots on the night and finished with a career-high 34 points and 10 rebounds. He lost his starting job 13 games into the season last year thanks to an injury and the subsequent breakout of OG Anunoby but had seemingly left those struggles behind early this year.

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"For me and what I've experienced in this league, I've tried to stay even-keeled", James said. Ibaka went 11 for 11 in the first half, while Lowry had 12 assists as the Raptors hit six 3-pointers and forced nine turnovers. "You don't look too much into it".

On Monday night in Utah, the Raptors had their most complete performance of the season, with strong contributions up and down the roster to dominate a talented Jazz team on the second night of a back-to-back.

Toronto took a 71-49 lead into halftime.

The Los Angeles Lakers' entire strategy over the past two seasons has been fairly simple when you get down to the bare bones: Establish a young core, get LeBron James, then get another superstar.

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