Here is what you need to know before the Lakers host the Toronto Raptors.
1) Randle switched back into monster mode
Julius Randle’s numbers over his last two games — 11.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per night — don’t really pop, but his tape does.
Remember when Kobe Bryant would refer to Randle as “Lamar Odom in Zach Randolph’s body”? That’s exactly what the Lakers have seen this week, as his trademark blend of quickness and power resulted in handful of game-changing plays.
One of the arguments for having Randle come off the bench this year was that Larry Nance Jr. would provide more reliable defense in the starting five. But, in Wednesday’s win over Washington, Randle showed that his defensive ceiling is as high as anyone’s by checking John Wall and Bradley Beal
When switched onto two of the best guards in the league, Randle continuously cut off their path to the basket and forced them into giving up the ball or attempting a contested two-pointer.
While he hit a big 3-pointer that helped force overtime, none of his plays were more impressive than his two blocks on Wall in OT — including when he stuffed the league’s fastest player at the rim, even after Wall had a 20-foot runway to build momentum.
2) Ingram is looking for four strong quarters
Like Randle, Brandon Ingram has shown flashes of high-level potential, but is working on consistency.
He scored a career-high 25 points in the second game of the season, then was held to seven in his next appearance.
But the sophomore followed that by shouldering the scoring in the win over the Wizards by providing 11 fourth-quarter points in what had started out as another quiet night.
Ingram’s game and voice both got louder as he and Kelly Oubre Jr. engaged in a shouting match prior to his offensive outburst.
And Ingram took it right to Oubre on the final shot of regulation. He was well-guarded on his initial drive to the hoop, but managed to reach back for his own rebound and tap it in to force overtime.
As expected, Ingram has been solid attacking the basket this season, and his mid-range game has been reliable, too. The team will look to see if he can keep improving those areas while finding some range beyond the arc, where he has hit just 33.3 percent so far.
3) It’s the battle of the backcourts (part two)
As Lonzo Ball celebrates his 20th birthday with this game, he will be tested by one of the league’s top guard combos for the second time in a row.
Ball’s passing has been as advertised four games into the season, as his 9.0 assists per game are tied with LeBron James for fourth in the league. His matching 9.0 rebounds have also been a boon for the Lakers.
And though his 31.6 field goal percentage has underwhelmed, the no-longer-teenager has flashed his own scoring ability, like when he dropped 29 points on Phoenix a week ago, and when he scooped in a key overtime layup against Washington.
Meanwhile, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been a two-way playmaker in his first two games in a Lakers uniform. He has been a menace on defense, tallying four steals, nine deflections and 14 fast-break points.
On the other side of the floor, he’s used his athleticism, shooting and decision-making to average 17.0 points, 3.0 assists and 50.0 percent shooting in this small sample size.
Their opponents in this game will be just as challenging as Wall and Beal, as Toronto boasts a pair of year-to-year all-stars in DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.
DeRozan, a Compton native, ranked fifth in the NBA in scoring last year (27.3) with a blend of shooting and slashing, as he hit the league’s most jumpers and averaged the second-most points on drives.
Lowry, meanwhile, is a playmaking point guard that can strike from deep, having placed ninth in assists (7.0) and fourth in made 3-pointers (3.2) while putting up a career-high 22.4 points last season.
Raptors: Lucas Nogueira (left ankle sprain) is doubtful. Jonas Valanciunas (left ankle sprain) is out.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California
Click here to view game notes for this contest.