Tonight is the game everyone was waiting for. Kobe Bryant made his return to the Lakers tonight from a torn Achilles he suffered last season. He makes his return against the team he scored 81 points against in the Toronto Raptors.
The Lakers have been playing great basketball and have improved to 10-9 on the season. The Raptors come in with a depleted team after completing a huge trade involving Rudy Gay, but still boast a plethora of young athletic wings in Demar Derozan, Terrence Ross, and Landry Fields who are sure to give Kobe all kinds of troubles in his first game back. The Lakers have won three of their last four games while the Raptors have lost five straight.
The crowd was absolutely electric for the beginning of this game. Kobe got the Lakers started with an absolutely beautiful pass to Robert Sacre for an easy layup. Lakers having trouble in transition defense as the Raptors got going quickly with a couple of layups. Jonas Valanciunas was dominant on the block in the early going, moving Sacre and Gasol out of the way for easy jump hooks. A couple of Lakers turnovers led to some more easy buckets as an uptight Lakers team fell behind 15-4 early. Lakers run a beautiful fast break led to a vicious Wesley Johnson and Kobe with another great pass to Gasol that cut the Raptors lead to 7. Kobe took his first break after seven minutes, missing two shots but dishing out two assists. Raptors dominated the Lakers in the paint and pushed the lead back out to 11 quickly. Nick Young got the Lakers going late in the quarter with three jumpers, but Terrence Ross hit a 3/4 court shot at the buzzer to push the Raptors ahead by 10 at the end of the first.
Jodie Meeks got the scoring started with a nice three pointer but the Lakers leave Amir Johnson wide open for an easy dunk. The Lakers offense seemed to find its stride with the second unit being lead by Xavier Henry, but the defense continued to be lackluster as Amir Johnson has 17 points midway through the quarter. Henry continued to be aggressive with an impressive three point play and Nick Young hit a three pointer to cut the lead to five. Kobe returned to the game with seven minutes left and picked up where he left off with another assist to Gasol and finally recorded his first point of the season at the free throw line. Kobe would then hit his first basket with a left handed bank shot, but Amir Johnson has been unstoppable in the first half and put the Raptor s back up by six. The Lakers defense was the weak point of the first half as the Raptors continually got wide open dunks and three pointers. Kobe started to look like his old self late in the quarter with a signature mid range jumper. A Meeks jumper cut the lead to four at the end of the half.
Both teams started off the quarter slow with some sloppy play and missed shots. Derozan finally got the scoring going with a fast break layup and Gasol has struggled badly shooting only 3-11. A Johnson jumper and a Lowry layup and the lead quickly rose back to 10. Fans began to openly boo Gasol at every mistake and Johnson continued to dominate as he passed his career high in points with 27 only four minutes into the quarter. Kobe turnover leads to a Derozan layup as the Raptors push the lead to 13. Lakers also haven’t helped themselves with fourteen turnovers. Meeks and Williams hit three pointers to cut the lead back to seven but a Lowry layup and another Johnson bucket push the lead right back to double digits. More Lakers turnovers kill any offensive momentum they try to build. Lakers with a 10-1 run led by Young and Hill to end the quarter as they cut the lead to five.
Teams traded buckets to start the quarter and Novak and Henry trade threes as the Raptors lead by seven. Nick Young attempted some sort of 720 layup that missed horribly and led to a Ross three pointer on the other end to put the Raptors back up by 10. Lakers get a quick run to cut the lead to five on a Henry three but Ross with a great move to push the lead to eight. Bryant re-enters the game with seven minutes remaining and assumes the point guard role. Crazy play eventually leads to a Hill layup off the Johnson assist and the Lakers trail by six halfway through the quarter. Bryant free throws cut the lead to four before the Lakers give up another easy layup off of a defensive breakdown. Derozan free throws and a Lowry layup push the lead back to four with only three minutes remaining. Bad Laker fouls and more Derozan push the Raptors farther ahead as time runs down. More turnovers end the game for the Lakers as they fall to the Raptors.
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