Raptors search for tighter defense vs. Lakers

TORONTO -- After the Toronto Raptors were pushed to the limit before defeating the depleted Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, coach Dwane Casey is urging his team to put up a "defensive presence" from the start of their game Friday against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.

If the Raptors were caught underestimating a Grizzlies team that was hit by absences to key players, they plan to be ready for the Lakers, who are coming off a 96-90 win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.

"They're playing well right now with a lot of confidence," Casey said of the Lakers on Thursday. "A very talented offensive team."

"Our guys have proven that when their backs are against the wall they can step up for a challenge," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "They did it (Wednesday night). That's a great win against a very good team. Held them to I think 35 percent from the field shooting, which is all we talked about pregame, was defense. That's it. Defense. If you're committed to the defensive end on basketball, you always give yourself a chance."

Both teams are in the middle of busy schedules. The Lakers (10-10) are playing their third game in four nights during a stretch in which they will play four games in five days, all on the road.

The Raptors (12-6) are playing the second in stretch of three games in four nights, all at home as they enjoy a six-game homestand.

Los Angeles will be without shooting guard Nick Young, who suffered a strained right calf muscle in the loss to the Pelicans in New Orleans on Tuesday. He will be out from two to four weeks.

Young likely would have been guarding Toronto's top scorer, shooting guard DeMar DeRozan.

"We put Nick on the other team's best player a lot this year," Walton said. "And he's done a great job making them work. So it's not just the shooting we're going to miss. We're definitely going to miss his defense, the energy he brings. The confidence his teammates get when he hits good shots. We're going to miss a lot."

Rookie Brandon Ingram played in Young's place in Chicago.

Lakers point guard D'Angelo Russell is expected to miss at least another week with a left-knee injury.

The 120-105 score in the Raptors' win over the Grizzlies does not indicate the way the game played out. Memphis pulled within one point of Toronto with 9:10 to play before it began to miss shots and turn the ball over.

The Raptors were given a boost by 16 points and eight rebounds off the bench by guard Cory Joseph as they won their fourth game in a row.

"I thought his energy rubbed off (on his teammates) late in the game," Casey said Thursday. "Because the first part of the game we were in a malaise as far as focus and energy. I think he came in a got us going. And Pat (Patrick Patterson, who had 14 points and 13 rebounds) came in and got us going ... with his defense and energy."

Los Angeles brings familiar faces in former Raptors guards Jose Calderon and Lou Williams.

Williams leads the Lakers in scoring at 16.7 points while DeRozan is averaging 28.9 to pace Toronto.

The Raptors are 6-3 a home and Los Angeles 4-8 on the road.
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