After three days off, the Los Angeles Lakers are back home at Staples Center to face the Toronto Raptors. The Lakers are coming off of yet another game that they completely collapsed in the fourth quarter, and will look to redeem themselves with four strong quarters of basketball.
Returning to the lineup tonight is Kobe Bryant, who sat out against Phoenix in order to rest his aching body. After logging 37 minutes in the game against the Detroit Pistons and nearly earning a triple-double, Kobe knew that he could not make the trip to his car, let alone Phoenix.
With three days of rest, Kobe should have fresh legs in tonight’s matchup against the Raptors.
On the Lakers second possession of the game, Jordan Clarkson caught the ball on the left side, jabbed to his right, and nailed a pull up jumper after one dribble away from Demar DeRozan. Kyle Lowry answered on the Raptors next possession with an open three-pointer. A few minutes later, Julius Randle blew a wide open right-handed layup, but got the rebound and found D’Angelo Russell open for a three. Demarre Carrol put a nice move on Kobe, but Kobe reached around to steal the ball and pushed it to Russell, who threw a lob to a high flying Clarkson, who guided the ball in the basket with his right hand to put the Lakers up 9-6. DeRozan came out hot out of the timeout and scored five straight points to tie the game at 11. After the Lakers took a brief 15-11 lead, the Raptors scored five quick points off of Luis Scola’s layup and Lowry’s three-pointer off of a screen. The Lakers second unit came in the game for the last few minutes of the quarter and struggled defensively, sending the Raptors to the free throw line on consecutive trips. The Lakers shot decently from the field, 44 percent, but turned the ball over five times and trailed the Raptors at the end of the first quarter, 27-21.
The Lakers started the second with Williams, Young, Kobe, Nance, and Bass. Nick Young came out hot hitting two straight threes and Bass made a layup to give the Lakers a two point lead. Lowry hit his fourth three of the game and then assisted on a Patrick Patterson three to give the Raptors the lead, 33-29. The Lakers started the quarter extremely hot, but cooled down significantly and continued to turn the ball over. After three scoreless minutes, Nick Young made his third field goal to end the scoring drought. The ensuing possession, Lowry found Jonas Valancuinas in the left corner and he nailed a long two to give the Raptors an eight point lead. Out of a timeout, Clarkson and Hibbert ran a pick-and-roll that resulted in a layup from Hibbert. Julius Randle attacked Scola with a spin move and finished at the rim with his left hand to cut the Lakers deficit to five. Just 20 seconds later, Lowry shot and made his fifth three-pointer of the contest. A few Lakers possessions later Russell missed a three, but Hibbert grabbed his third offensive board and dished it out to Clarkson, who converted a wide open three-pointer. Russell telegraphed a pass that Lowry stole and Carroll finished the fast break with a dunk. Russell redeemed himself in transition, as he side-stepped the defender and finished at the rim. With 40 seconds left in the half, the Raptors got a stop, but Russell stole the ball under the basket and converted a layup, giving the Lakers a 50-49 lead at the half.
Luis Scola scored the first seven Raptors points of the half, but Randle scored four straight and Kobe followed that up with a turnaround jumper for his second field goal of the game. The Lakers regained the lead with a corner three by Russell, and then after a defensive stop Randle scored in transition. Randle continued to dominate in the paint, scoring 16 points and grabbing nine rebounds, as he lead the Lakers to a 9-0 run, extending the lead to seven points halfway through the third. Randle’s dominance was halted as he picked up his fourth personal foul with 5:23 left in the quarter. After Carroll made one of two free throws, Kobe found a cutting Russell with a behind the back pass, and Russell made a jumper from the elbow. Lowry nailed his sixth three-pointer of the game and tied the game at 65 apiece with 3:19 remaining in the quarter. After a few scoreless minutes, Kyle Lowry hit yet another three to give the Raptors the lead, 69-66. The Raptors began to score with ease with the Lakers second unit on the court; Cory Joseph set up James Johnson for the dunk. The Raptors finished the quarter with a 10-3 run, giving them the lead 76-68 going into the fourth.
On the first possession of the fourth, Williams penetrated and found Bass down low for the dunk. On the other end of the court Carroll hit a three, but Lou Williams answered with a three of his own. Terrance Ross answered William’s three with a three of his own, and then Joseph made a layup on the next Raptors possession to extend their lead to 11 points. Kobe ended the Raptors run with a step back deuce from the left corner, but the Raptors answered with two points of their own on the other end. Things began to unravel in a hurry for the Lakers as they turned the ball over repeatedly and took bad shots and suddenly the Raptors led by 16 points with 7:56 remaining in regulation. After a much needed timeout, Coach Scott put Clarkson, Russell, and Randle back in the game in an attempt to restore some order. On cue, Randle made a dunk in transition and Russell followed that up with a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 11. The Lakers strung together a few stops and Kobe made a spinning jumpshot, forcing the Raptors to call a timeout with 4:42 left in the game. Metta World Peace created a second chance opportunity for the Lakers and was rewarded with wide open three in the corner, cutting the Raptors lead to six points. The Raptors fired back with four straight points of their own to increase their lead to 10 points with three minutes remaining in the game. After Clarkson made a tough driving layup, Kobe Bryant had a clutch steal and made a long two in transition, cutting the deficit to six points with less than two minutes to play. The next possession for the Raptors resulted in a Derozan layup that was perhaps the dagger in the game, extending the Raptors lead to 99-91. Carroll made a floater, then Derozan went to the line and the Lakers hatched the ball until time expired, losing the game 102-91.