King James reigns as Lakers send Raptors to their 14th straight loss

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In the history of the Raptors, only a handful of players have received the type of ovation accorded to the homeside.

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This elite list began with Michael Jordan when His Airness first came to Toronto during the expansion season in 1995.

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Kobe Bryant would also receive the royal treatment by fans of Raptors.

Steph Curry, whose pre-game routine is worth the price of admission alone, is also a chartered member of this group of four.

And then there’s LeBron James, who made his first playing appearance in Toronto in two years when his Lakers provided the opposition Tuesday night.

When it comes to receiving a standing ovation for the simple act of walking on to the floor, James and Jordan are in a class of their own.

The LeBron love-fest would begin well before the opening tap when he was showered with adulation.

In the layup line, fans gasped when James would dunk the ball.

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He then proceeded to make his way around the three-point line, heaving step-backs, side-step jumpers, one-dribble shots.

Then came the pre-game player introduction when James was the first Lakers player to formally step on the floor.

Finally, a game would be played.

For most of the opening 12 minutes, James, as he’s known to do, made sure his teammates were able to get into the flow of the game by serving as a facilitator.

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In the opening nine minutes, James had recorded four assists.

He attempted only two attempts from the field, making both, but no shots from distance would be even contemplated.

The Lakers came to town following a win over the host Brooklyn Nets when James went 9-for-10 from beyond the arc en route to a 40-point game.

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At Scotiabank Arena, he played the part of a hoops maestro, playing within himself and not exerting much energy knowing the back end of a back-to-back awaits Wednesday night in Washington.

His baseline fadeaway with R.J. Barrett defending hit iron.

Then came a baseline drive James would finish with a reverse layup that energized the crowd.

The oohs and aahs continued when James attacked the rim from the left wing on back-to-back possessions as the Lakers built a double-digit lead.

One foray caused Mo Gueye to lose his balance.

The crowd, which has endured a wretched stretch of play by the depleted Raptors, hasn’t been this engaged since Curry’s visit back on March 1, the night when Scottie Barnes was injured.

Tuesday night began with James making a lob pass to Anthony Davis, who completed the sequence with a routine finish at the rim.

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James has always been a willing passer, blessed with great vision and court sense by seeing plays well before they even happen.

Well-placed bounce passes, passes when an extra defender is sent his way, James reacted to every scenario like he’s always done when his NBA career began back in 2003 when the Raptors almost won the lottery.

Toronto only trailed 64-58 at halftime, its task made a bit easier when Davis, who had four turnovers, picked up three fouls.

By the break, James had 18 points on 6-for-8 shooting, seven assists, zero turnovers and zero three-point attempts.

In the second half, James began with an added aggression to his game, resorting to bully ball when he attacked three defenders at the basket as his attempt dropped.

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He missed the accompanying free throw.

His second attack to the basket also resulted in a make and foul, but on this occasion James converted from the line to give the Lakers a 78-64 lead.

With 5:20 left in the third quarter, James got free from the left corner to bury his first three-ball of the night to give him 21 points.

When the Raptors came with a double team on Davis, it led to a three-point make from Austin Reaves as L.A. began to find its outside stroke.

Davis became the go-to guy when James took his spot on the Lakers bench.

On both ends of the floor, Davis was virtually unstoppable in recording a double-double as the Lakers built a 21-point advantage as the game was unofficially over.

It became official once the final buzzer sounded to give the Lakers a 128-111 win to send the Raptors to their 14th straight loss.

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At least some much-needed juice and a long-awaited feel of an actual event returned.

James ended the night by scoring 23 points to match his jersey number in playing 29 minutes.

He recorded nine assists and turned the ball over once in a very efficient and economical evening.

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The Raptors are a long way from being a complete team, a process that will require more than one off-season, but they weren’t as hapless or hopeless with the return of Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett.

Each missed time because of personal reasons following the death of Barrett’s brother, while Quickley lost an uncle.

Their presence was immediately felt as each immediately became Toronto’s best players.

The Raptors began by making seven of their first 10 shots to score 21 points.

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The IQ-RJ tandem combined for 17.

With Quickley and Barrett back, the Raptors were competent and competitive as opposed to the incompetent and non-competitive group fans were forced to watch.

The combo scored a combined 32 points for the Raptors at intermission in what turned out to be a very competitive and entertaining half.

The second half was too much one-sided as the Lakers coasted to their win.

As well as the IQ and RJ tandem played, combining to score 48 points, the AD and LBJ duo was too dominant.

Throw in L.A.’s three-point efficiency from the likes of a D’Angelo Russell and it was easy to see this rout coming.

L.A. outscored the Raptors by 30 points from distance.

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