(recap by Ryan Dickison)
Leading in to Sunday’s game versus the Lakers, Toronto had lost 13 of their previous 15 to Kobe and company. The Raptors refused to back down to the defending champions as they rallied back from a 10 point deficit edging L.A. by a single point 106-105.
The Lakers went to Pau Gasol early while the Spaniard scored 10 of the Lakers first 14 points. The All-Star forward cooled off as the game went on, most of his damage coming in the first half, finishing the game with 22 points and nine rebounds.
Other Laker big Andrew Bynum, who has been mentioned in trade talks for Chris Bosh, put up almost identical numbers as his front-court teammate, netting 21 points in total and hauling in nine rebounds.
Kobe Bryant brought his lunch box to work as he does almost every other night. It was no 81 point performance but the Black Mamba was just one assist shy of a triple-double. In 40 minutes of playing time Kobe capitalised on 11 of 23 attempts scoring a game high 27 points, 16 rebounds and dishing out nine assists.
For the Raptors, it was a collective effort all around. Jarrett Jack got into the lane and attacked the basket often, chipping in with 18 points on 8 of 14 from the floor. Raptor reserve Marco Belinelli lit up the Lake-show on 4-5 shooting, a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc and knocking down four out of five from the charity stripe. Chris Bosh had a quiet but solid night (18 and 13) leading the league with his 32nd double-double of the season and Andrea Bargnani caught fire in the fourth quarter scoring 12 of his 22 points in the final frame.
It was the struggling Hedo Turkoglu who was the hero at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday night. Turkoglu sealed the game for Toronto with a pair of clutch free throws one second remaining in regulation time to put the Raptors up one. Turk was only 1 for 6 from the floor as he continues to try and find his rhythm offensively but was perfect from the line knocking down all six of his fouls shots, none more important that his final two.
The Raptors were outrebounded 51 to 39 (16 offensive) and were outscored in the paint by 28 but got to the free throw line 17 more times than their opponent which turned out to be the difference in the game.
A much needed win for Toronto as they face off against Dwyane Wade and the inconsistent Miami Heat Wednesday at home. Such an emotional victory as this is exactly what the doctor ordered and maybe now Raptors fans can hope to see more from their big offseason acquisition moving forward.
- For a Lakers perspective, check out Silver Screen and Roll
- DeRozan Watch: 24 minutes, 10 pts, 6 boards