This Raptors team does not know how to take a challenge laying down and that trait proved invaluable in the team’s statement win against the Lakers at Staples Center.

Toronto prevailed against a streaking Los Angeles Lakers team last night, winning their seventh game of the season 113-104.

As has been the trend for this season, the Raptors were lead by Pascal Siakam who dropped 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. However, this was in no way a carrying act. The Raptors had five other players who scored in double digits. Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell both played well in the starting lineup adding 23 and 14 points respectively.

It was the bench unit that was the difference maker in game however with Chris Boucher, Terence Davis, Matt Thomas and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson contributing to a combined 43 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals. Even Nick Nurse pitched in on the stats sheet, earning himself his first Coach’s Challenge win in the third quarter.

The team’s defence showed its greatness once again as they were able to hold LeBron James to a paltry 13 points on season-low 33.3% shooting. Anthony Davis’s 27 was not enough to lead the Lakers past a scrappy Raptors team that is playing like they have something to prove.

This was the first game that would not feature either Kyle Lowry (left thumb fracture) or Serge Ibaka (right ankle sprain) in the line-up and fans knew that continuing the strong start the Raptors have had so far this season depended on the bench unit stepping up to the occasion and they proved themselves as capable last night. Beyond statistics, the team showed up with a chip on their shoulder and a resilience befitting of the title ‘defending champions.’

This attitude stemmed through to every player that hit the floor in last night’s win. The Raptors were fully engaged and out-hustled the Lakers constantly throughout the game and they reaped the benefits of their tenacious play, keeping the Lakers on their back foot in the 4th quarter.

While this total team performance was a pleasant surprise it’s most definitely repeatable and sustainable. Nick Nurse has been candid in his perception of the team and his coaching prior to this game has reflected that, essentially running an eight-man rotation of the players that he trusts. The significant injuries to three of those eight means he needs to play those players that still need to establish that trust with him. They made a great stride last night and can continue on that trend.

As of right now, the Raptors have three players in the top ten for minutes played (Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam) and having more players proving themselves as capable over this west coast trip will definitely help in easing the load for the more established players on the team.

The NBA season is a marathon, not a sprint and the situation the Raptors find themselves in has the potential to greatly aid their current situation, helping them find key rotation players that buy into this team’s championship culture.

The Raptors continue their road swing tonight as they take on the Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 PM/EST facing off against reigning Finals MVP and former Raptor Kawhi Leonard.