Pre-Game Report: Lakers @ Raptors

The Lakers are heading to Toronto, Canada to play against the Raptors. Toronto has only won 2 of their last 8 games. With the Raptors being a bit banged up, coach Jay Triano will shift their rotation around. Here’s a preview of the starting 5 for both teams.

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant warms-up prior to playing the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center in Washington on December 14, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

Derek Fisher – Jose Calderon

Kobe Bryant – DeMar DeRozan

Ron Artest – Linas Kleiza

Lamar Odom – Amir Johnson

Pau Gasol – Ed Davis

Toronto has been in a rut lately. Bargnani is playing with sore knees and won’t play today, Sonny Weems is listed day-to-day, and Reggie Evans who was grabbing 12 boards a game one time goes out with a broken bone in his foot. Bargnani sat out four games and came back Friday night to pull through a win for the Raptors against the Nets. Andrea is having his best NBA career season yet putting up 21 points a game. Unfortunately, his team looks to be slipping away in the playoff race. It might be still too early to tell, but looking at how strong the East has gotten, the Raptors chances aren’t good.

Expect Calderon to play maybe under 30 minutes tonight, as Jerryd Bayless will pick up quality minutes for the Raptors. Last season, Bayless averaged a solid 14 points a game playing against the Lakers. Hopefully, Fisher and Blake can slow down the quick scoring guard.

Kleiza will get plenty of minutes in the absence of Sonny Weems who is out with back spasms. If he is behind the arc, expect him to throw the shot up. He played heavy minutes against the Nets and had to ice his legs after the game, that might effect his game against the Lakers Sunday afternoon.

The Lakers will finally wrap up their 7 game road trip today. The upsides, they won 5 out of their last 6 games and Bynum returning onto the court. The downside, Kobe gets a sprained pinky. Kobe hurt his finger last game against the 76ers in the first quarter in which he only put up a season low of 9 points in the game.

However, Lamar and Barnes shined through the game both putting up a total 43 points.

Bynum is still yet limited with minutes. He is expecting to start soon, but I don’t believe he will for this game. I’m guessing Christmas day against the Heat is his season starting debut.

For the Lakers to win today, they first will need to set the tempo. Run and score, and use the big men L.A. has efficiently. Gasol needs to watch his jumpshots. Other than that, protect around the rim for guards like Barbosa, Bayless, and DeRozan trying to attack the rim. The Raptors are also not that great shooting behind the arc with Peja out with an injury. The tempo is key to this game, and I can see Lamar and the Killer B’s setting great runs through this game.

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