Without their leading scorer, the Toronto Raptors (13-4) dropped their second straight game Sunday night against the Los Angeles Lakers (4-13). Kobe Bryant recorded a monster triple-double with 31 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds to lead his team to a 129-122 overtime win over the East-leading Raptors at the Staples Center.
Kyle Lowry stepped up with 29 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds and three steals for the visiting team while his usual backcourt mate, All-Star DeMar DeRozan, sat out his first game this season with a groin injury.
In the third quarter, Bryant became the first player in NBA history to record 30,000 points and 6,000 assists. No biggie.
In a terrifying moment for Raptor fans everywhere, a minute into overtime, Lowry got whacked on a drive in the restricted area. For what felt like too long, he laid on the court covering his face. The last thing the Raptors need is to lose the other half of their dynamic starting backcourt. Fortunately, in typical Lowry fashion, he got up, drained a free throw and continued to carry the team on his back.
The Raptors scored 122 points. That’s not bad. In fact, it could have been so much worse considering Terrence Ross was the only player who could hit an outside shot all night. Toronto shot 1-11 from beyond the arc in the first half and finished the game scoring at a 26.5 per cent clip from deep. They managed to keep the game close by doing plenty of damage inside. The Raptors outscored the Lakers 58-34 in the paint. It was no doubt the path of least Lakers resistance. Bryant wasn’t kidding when he called out his squad’s “lazy” defense.
The Raptors gave up 129 points. Even before the extra five minutes, they had relinquished enough to drive head coach Dwane Casey off the wall. The struggles started early: for the majority of the first half, the Raptors allowed the Lakers to shoot around 60 per cent from the field, long range and the free throw line. Literally all over the court. Four guys in purple in gold hit double-digits in scoring in the first half. The Raptors looked more focused defensively in the second half. They buckled down and prevented the Lakers from scoring for the first three and a half minutes in the third quarter. Alas, they couldn’t sustain the effort. Not only did they allow Bryant to play like the vintage version of himself, but too many of his teammates lit up the Raptors. Nick Young hit five of eight Swaggy Threes.
The Raptors didn’t get smacked on the glass like they did in the previous game. They pulled down 14 offensive boards and 53 total, which is only one short of LA’s rebound count. No real complaints on this front. Rebounding did not cost them this game.
Game Ball: Kobe Bryant
The Black Mamba did what the Black Mamba does (or at least used to do on a regular basis). He helped his team build an early lead mainly by facilitating. Thanks to Bryant’s efforts to create open looks for his teammates, LA shot 57 per cent in the opening frame. Then he decided to launch a few and couldn’t miss. Literally. Against both Ross and James Johnson, Bryant shot 4-4 from the field in the first quarter. He finished with 31 points on 11-24 shooting. Perhaps his one mistake worth noting is when he blew the opportunity to win the game in regulation (props to Jonas Valanciunas and his verticality). It’s safe to say Bryant made up for that, scoring seven early points in overtime.
The silver lining for Raptors fans? Thirty-one points is 50 less than… you know. And even with the win, the Lakers still have the worst record in the West.