The Kobe Bryant farewell tour made its way through the Air Canada Centre tonight as the the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Toronto Raptors. While he didn’t score 82 points tonight, Bryant’s presence was felt in full effect by not only the fans but the players too. It always seemed that Larry Nance Jr. got caught in the moment as he was the only player to continuously cheer on Kobe when it was the fan’s time to show their appreciation.
The Raptors once again got off to a slow start, but luckily they were playing the 2016 Lakers. With DeMarre Carroll out for an indefinite period of time with a right knee contusion; Terrence Ross was able to get the start. The start would prove to be a good gamble by Dwane Casey as 11-million dollar pylon started looking like an 11-milion dollar player.
Kyle Lowry led all scorers with 27 points while also adding 7 rebounds and 6 assists. With the 102-93 win, the Raptors collect their 5th win at home this season. This was also the first time in franchise history that the Raptors were able to sweep the Lakers in the regular season.
Overall, Kobe had a solid final game in the ACC finishing with a line of 21 points and 8 rebounds on 8-16 shooting. Lou Williams had 15 points in his first return to Toronto since signing with the Lakers.
The offence was able to put up 102 points against a relatively weak Lakers defence. The Raptors managed to shoot a modest 46% from the floor on their way to victory. The bench woes continue for anyone not named Cory Joseph. Apart from his 14 points the rest of the bench combined to score just 6 points.
The real bright spot in this game however was the performance from Ross. After being inserted into the starting line-up for the first time this season, Ross came out guns-a-blazing with 13 first quarter points. He rarely looked lost on the floor, and conducted himself like an assertive basketball player for the first time since Nov.1st.
Thank you Ross, and please come again.
The Raptors held the Lakers to just 92 points on 41% shooting – which is more than respectable. Without Carroll, the Raptors were missing some much needed intensity however a collective team effort allowed the Raptors keep the Lakers at bay. The Lakers were never really out of this game until about the 3-minute mark in the 4th quarter.
There was a small run where it looked like Kobe was about to do something special and shoot the Lakers to victory. However Kobe does what Kobe does and shot his team out of the game with a few forced jump-shots late in the game.
The Raptors got bullied on the glass by the Lakers this evening losing the battle 47-38. Bismack Biyombo was able to pull in another double-double leading the way with 13 rebounds. The Lakers size and length was clearly overwhelming for the Raptors as their ‘bigs’ were often mismatched attempting to box out in the paint.
Game Ball: Terrence Ross
The game ball could’ve gone to Kyle Lowry for putting up another ridiculous line tonight leading the Raptors. However, this game ball will go to Ross. Ross finished with a season-high 22 points on 8 for 12 shooting. Not only did he play his finest game of the season, but he provided multiple highlights in a game that’s sure to be a lasting memory for many. Ross also got into a mini-duel with Kobe in the fourth granting some “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd. He even nailed a sweet step-back on Jordan Clarkson. Ross has all the tools, it’s just a matter of putting it together night in and night out