Last Friday marks the 13th loss in 16 games to start the 2014 season for the Los Angeles Lakers. In the battle for the worst team in the Western Conference with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Lakers lost in another defensive meltdown in the second half.
The Lakers would have to go up against the number one team in the East in the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. The Raptors have surprised everyone jumping out to a 13-3 start going into the game. While this team has been very fortunate as of recently, Demar Derozan went down with a torn groin last week and is out indefinitely. Without their best scorer, The Raptors would look for Terrance Ross to carry more of a load against the Lakers.
After missing the game-winning shot against Minnesota, Kobe would look to redeem himself. The Mamba is shooting 32% this season in the 4th quarter. For the Lakers to pull out a victory, they would need a better effort from their superstar towards the end of the game.
The Raptors got things going inside early on as Greivis Vasquez hit a runner. Jordan Hill hit the Lakers first two buckets in the post on sweeping hook shots as The Raptors jumped to an early lead. Carlos Boozer, however, hit a jumper form the outside courtesy of a Kobe dime. Wes Johnson got into the act with a long two pointer to tie the game at eight with over four minutes gone by in the period. Both teams were out and running in the opening minutes as Vasquez connected on another two. Boozer hit his third jumper and Kobe found Jeremy Lin in the corner for a three to take the lead. Kobe was the facilitator in the first quarter as he found another shooter in the corner for a three. This time, Nick young was the beneficiary of the Kobe assist. After a Raptors bucket, Kobe hit his first shot of the game on a fade-away from the right block. While Kobe was racking up assists, he was also hitting his jumper, as he did on the left baseline to put the Lakers up 23-20 with two minutes remaining in the quarter. The Mamba would do his best Tim Duncan impersonation hitting a bank-shot from the left once again. As The Raptors scored at will, so did Kobe who would hit a long two as the shot clock expired. He would go 4-4 in the first twelve minutes to give The Lakers the 27-24 lead.
Young started the quarter with a three The Lakers bench. Young would hit his next two attempts from the field and Wayne Ellington would hit another Lakers three. Through 15 minutes The Lakers were shooting 62%. The Lakers second unit would commit two straight turnovers, but Young would draw a foul on a three-point attempt. He hit two out of three free throws to give The Lakers a six point lead. After a forced shot from Kyle Lowry, Ellington hit another outside shot to extend the lead as the starters would re-enter the ball game. Kobe continued to make the extra pass on his fifth assist, this one to Boozer for another jumper. But, The Raptors would hit a three to narrow the gap. Kobe got another assist to Boozer for a layup and Hill hit a shot from the top of the key to continues The Lakers hot shooting. The Score was 48-40 with under four minutes to go in the half. Kobe found Hill on a sweet behind the back pass for the finish inside with a one-handed jam off of a pick and roll. He would get fouled on the next possession and hit both free throws making him the third Laker in double figures in the first half. Lowry was in attack mode, however, drawing the and-one on a runner from the right block. The star point guard remained aggressive in a mismatch with Lin as he went to the charity stripe yet again. The Lakers exploited a mismatch of their own as Kobe would set Johnson up on the low block with the smaller Lowry guarding him.After great ball movement, Boozer tipped in a miss at the cup as time expired making the score 58-49.
The Raptors scored the first four points of the second half while The Lakers tried to capitalize on the substantial lead. Vasquz would convert on a three point play the old fashioned way to cut the Lakers lead to three as Byron Scott called a timeout. The Lakers were ice-cold to start the third period, not able to connect on a field goal in three minutes. But, Kobe would get his ninth assist on a bullet to Johnson on the right baseline. Hill scored five straight points on a layup and three free throws as The Lakers turned up the intensity. They would create a turnover resulting in a Boozer layup to make the score 67-59. Kobe recorded his 10th assist on a driving dish to Lin for another Lakers three. After a Lin steal, Boozer would fins himself open for a layup to put The Lakers up by 10. But, The Raptors went on a run with five minutes left in the quarter. After five consecutive Lowry points the Lakers lead was only two. Toronto would tie the game with under three minutes to go in the period. After a drought, Kobe remained aggressive and drew a three-point play on a fade-away in the paint. Two more Kobe free throws would tie the game with 30 seconds left in the third quarter, but Lou Williams would get a dunk. The Lakers would have the last bucket of the period on a Ronnie Price three-pointer via Kobe at the buzzer. The score after three quarters was 81-80 in favor of The Lakers.
Vasquez hit a three on a loose ball and Williams converted on a pull-up jumper to start the final frame. However, Young would knock down another Lakers’ three. The bench of The Lakers could not stop Williams as he hit a bucket from downtown to give The Raptors a four-point lead. Ellington stayed hot with limited minutes hitting on a catch-and-shoot and Young made his fourth three to make the score, 93-90, Raptors. Robert Sacre came to life and scored five straight points to tie the game at 95 even though The Raptors guards were dismantling The Lakers defense. After a Toronto miss, Boozer drove to the rim for a layup to take the lead.
Kobe kept the Lakers in the game late in the fourth quarter. A few missed free throws from Bryant and Hill kept the game too close for comfort with the Raptors continuing to capitalize on Lakers mistakes.
Fortunately, a big three-pointer from Nick Young with about a minute and half left in the game gave the Lakers a four-point lead. Unfortunately, Kobe fouled Lowry on a drive sending him to the line. Lowry cut the deficit to two. Kobe missed a jumper on the other end which ultimately setup the Raptors for a three by Terrence Ross to take the lead.
Kobe headed back to the line for two free throws with 34.9 seconds left in the game after being fouled on a drive to the basket. Kobe hit the first and missed the second. Game was tied at 109 with the ball in Lowry’s hands. An offensive foul call gave the Lakers possession with 13.0 seconds remaining.
As expected, Kobe ended up with the ball, but was blocked on his way to the basket with no foul call forcing overtime tied at 109.
With Kobe clearly not happy about the no-call on his final drive to the basket in the fourth quarter, the veteran guard started overtime in attack mode. Kobe went to the line after being fouled on a fadeaway attempt. Bryant put the Lakers up one with the made free throw, but then Lowry went to the line on the other end to tie the game at 110.
After huge three-pointer from Wesley Johnson, the Lakers retook the lead. Los Angeles was able to get a stop on the defensive end resulting in Kobe knocking down a jumper while getting fouled. Bryant hit the free throw extending the Lakers’ lead to six.
Following a Raptors bucket, Kobe hit another jumper bringing his total up to a game-high 31 points. Jordan Hill then came up with monster block on a Lowry shot attempt leading to a fastbreak led by Jeremy Lin then a goaltending call put the Lakers up by eight with a 1:36 left on the clock.
Coming out the timeout, Nick Young took it to the basket and was able to draw the foul. Young went one-for-two from the line. Lin also chipped in with two free-throw makes keeping the Lakers ahead.
Raptors began playing the foul game following two threes made by Ross, but failed to catch Hill who found Johnson for the easy dunk. Lin nailed two more free throws keeping the Lakers up by seven.
Lou Williams jacked up a desperation three which missed the mark basically sealing the deal for the Lakers. Lin committed an ill-advised foul sending Lowry to the line, but a win was out of reach for the Raptors.
Johnson went to the line with 2.8 seconds left on the clock. Hit both. Lakers win, 129-122.[divide]
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