LeBron James: Raptors still great team despite losing Kawhi Leonard

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LeBron James: Raptors still great team despite losing Kawhi Leonard

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James was full of praise for the Toronto Raptors after his team lost to the defending champions on Saturday night in Orlando. The Lakers, who beat the Clippers in their opener at the bubble, failed to start the NBA restart with back-to-back wins as the Raptors beat them 107-92.

LeBron James was his team's highest-scorer as he dropped 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and also had five assists but that wasn't enough against the Raptors. "That's a great team," James said afterward, as quoted on ESPN.

"No ifs, ands or buts. Exceptionally well coached and championship DNA, you can never take that away from a ballclub if you win a championship. And even before that, they just got playoff-tested guys. Guys that played not only here in the NBA in big games, but also in FIBA games as well.

Marc [Gasol] has been in big games throughout his whole life pretty much it seems like. The Raptors, who lost last year's NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard during the offseason, weren't given too much chances prior to this season but they proved the doubters wrong as they sit on the second place of the Eastern Conference with a 47-18 record.

"So, that's just a great team. The media may not talk about them much or give them much credit because Kawhi is gone, but players in the league definitely know what type of team they are," James added. Kyle Lowry says players want to play and keep going social justice messages Raptors guard Lowry led his team past the Lakers as he put up 33 points and also added 14 rebounds and six assists.

"We just want to go play," Lowry said. "Some guys are down here for different things, our job is to be professional basketball players. But also we want to send [a] message, uplift the Black Americans that's out there, Black people around the world and that's our job, to do that.

"That's what we're doing, we're trying to win games and keep our messages and momentum going." Coach Nurse was thrilled with the defensive effort his team put up against the Lakers. "I think I remember one timeout looking down, coming out sometime in the second quarter, and I looked down and I said, 'Jeez, we're shooting 30% and we're winning,'" Nurse said. "And that's kinda what good defense is supposed to do, get you through some of those moments."