The (10-9) Los Angeles Lakers will host the (6-12) Toronto Raptors in a sold out Staples Center for the 20th game of the year. The Raptors have lost their last five games. The Lakers split the two-game season series with Toronto last year.
In 2011-12, the Lakers won their only game against the Raptors on a patented Kobe Bryant fade-away jumper from the corner with 4.8 seconds remaining. In the 20th meeting between these two teams; January 22, 2006, Kobe Bryant made NBA history by scoring 81 points.
Bryant had 55 points in the second half to bring the Lakers back from an 18-point deficit. Kobe Bryant will make his much anticipated season-debut tonight. In 28 career games (including 24 starts) against Toronto, Kobe has averaged 28.3 points, his second highest total against one team. The Lakers have won their last 10 games against the Raptors at the Staples Center.
The Lakers, winners of six of their last eight games, although banged up and dealing with several injuries have had success using the production by committee method and are playing good competitive basketball. Mike D’Antoni and staff have developed some players that have been able to make significant contributions. In their recent win against Sacramento six Lakers scored in double figures, Jodie Meeks and Pau Gasol’s combined for 38 points.
Kobe Bryant will start tonight and play somewhere in the 20-25 minute range. More than likely at the point guard position. Kobe’s presence, leadership, skill level will elevate the level of play and inspire this team. The Lakers are thin at the point guard position, but better spacing will help their cause. The biggest task for Mike D’Antoni and staff will be to make sure that Kobe’s teammates continue to move without the basketball as oppose to standing around and watching the “Black Mamba” go to work.
The Lakers need to use good ball movement and solid player movement to find the open shot. Toronto is an athletic team that can score. The purple and gold will have to limit the impact that former USC Trojan DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay can provide. To come away with a win the Lakers have to communicate on defense, do a solid job of defending the pick-and-roll play, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, control the tempo, get back in transition, win the rebounding battle and quickly rotate out to open shooters.
Lakers: S. Blake, K. Bryant, W. Johnson, P.Gasol, R. Sacre
Raptors: K. Lowry, D. DeRozan, R. Gay, A. Johnson, J Valanciunas
Tip-off: 6:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: TWC SN (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz)
- Toronto: TSN2 (Matt Devlin)
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Toronto: TSN/Sportsnet The Fan 590 (Paul Jones & Eric Smith)
- Steve Nash (Nerve Root Irritation)
- Jordan Farmar (Tear in Left Hamstring) Out
- Pau Gasol (Sprained Right Ankle) Day-to-Day
- Jordan Hill (Sprained Left Ankle) Day-to-Day
- Chris Kaman (Back Spasms) Day-to-Day
- Tyler Hansbrough (Left AC Shoulder Sprain) Day-to-Day
Jeff Little is the host of "The Locker Room" a daily sports talk radio show based out of Los Angeles 6-8 pm PST www.sportsjourney.com Follow on twitter @JeffLittle32, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+