Lowry leads depleted Raptors past Lakers; LeBron exits early

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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, center, tries to shoot as Toronto Raptors forward Freddie Gillespie, left, guard Malachi Flynn, second from left, guard Rodney Hood, second from right, and center Khem Birch defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, May 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers were dealt another disappointing loss, this time by the short-handed Toronto Raptors. But seeing LeBron James head to the locker room early served as a reminder it could have been much worse.

James left with 6:42 to play as the Raptors defeated the Lakers 121-114 on Sunday night. Los Angeles coach Frank Vogel said it was a precautionary move to pull James in his second game back after missing 20 because of a sprained right ankle.

James said he would wait to see how his ankle felt before deciding if he could play against Denver on Monday, but acknowledged it has yet to hold up for an entire game.

“The first half, it feels really good. Obviously warming up for the game, everything is going well,” said James, who had 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists. “Last two games at halftime, you know, after the break, it’s kind of gotten a little sore on me — a little tight.

"And obviously Coach decided not to put me back in towards the end because of that, so that’s pretty much it.”

Kyle Lowry had 37 points and 11 assists, Pascal Siakam had 39 points and 13 rebounds and Toronto ended a three-game losing streak despite not having Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Chris Boucher or Gary Trent Jr. available because of injuries or to rest after losing at Utah on Saturday.

DeAndre’ Bembry had 14 points off the bench and the Raptors led by as many as 21 to hand the defending NBA champion Lakers another baffling defeat.

The Raptors held off a late charge after Kyle Kuzma hit a 3 with 58.8 seconds to play to cut their lead to six before Bembry and Siakam hit free throws to seal it.