First place Raptors clobber Lakers, Bucks topple Kings

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First, there was the 15-for-17 night against the Los Angeles Lakers, where he finished with a career-high 34 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Buddy Hield had 22 or more points in all four games, averaging 24.3. Leonard has missed the previous two games with left ankle soreness after leaving the floor in the final two minutes of the team's victory in Phoenix in November 2. Ibaka couldn't miss, but Kyle Lowry is what makes the Raptors' offense work - he had 21 points and 15 assists, continuing his red-hot start to the season. Toronto is tied with Golden State for the league's best record at 10-1.

Both teams could be playing with their top scorers on Monday night. Toronto is undefeated thus far on their road trip, and now has a record of 3-1 in games where Kawhi Leonard isn't active this season.

"It shifts us around a little bit", Nurse said. Toronto plans to be cautious with Leonard to start the season as he was limited to just nine games with the Spurs in 2017-18 because of a quad injury.

Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri still remains optimistic that his group can convince Leonard to stay in Toronto - otherwise the trade would essentially be a bust, with Leonard having been a one-year rental.

"The guy is hot", Lowry said of Ibaka but he could have said it about a half-dozen Raptors.

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With him on the bench? "We got a W, and I'm happier now than scoring a lot of points [in a loss]".

As a result, the Raptors go from outscoring opponents by 17.4 points per 100 possessions with Lowry on the court to being outscored by 11.7 points per 100 possessions with him off the court. Last season, the Raptors corrected that habit and they will look to continue that trend under the watchful eye of Nick Nurse and quite possibly the best Raptors roster ever, something that should stop a letdown in its tracks.

In those two seasons that saw the Raptors only lose to the Kings, it was a Dwane Casey-coached bunch that had a tendency to play down to the level of its competition.

A couple of those charges came in the closing minutes of Toronto's big win over Boston on October 19.

Fast-forward to now, however, and we see a Kings team that boasts a 6-4 record, buoyed by a five-game win streak that only just got snapped Sunday by the 8-2 Milwaukee Bucks. The Jazz also lost a player during the game: Joe Ingles dislocated a finger in the fourth quarter.

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