TORONTO — Imagine how much happier the Lakers would be if they played in the Eastern Conference.
No severe losing streaks. Fewer excruciating nights on defense. More victories.
But so far they're taking advantage of six consecutive games against the East, beating the Toronto Raptors, 112-106, Sunday at Air Canada Centre.
Their winning streak stands at two after they also beat Boston, and they've won consecutive games for the first time in almost a month (Dec. 17 and 20).
"Has it been that long?" Pau Gasol said with raised eyebrows.
Yes. It has.
The Lakers had a nice bounce against the East's third-place team. Of course, it meant Toronto was only 20-19 after losing.
Predictably, Young smiled the entire time as he spoke to reporters afterward. Unpredictably, he took credit for the Lakers' fight last Wednesday against Phoenix, the one where he punched Goran Dragic in the face and later said teammates failed to show any support.
"We had a little altercation that woke us all up," Young said. "We're out there battling with each other now. . . . We sat down and talked and now we're just laying it out there. I went on my little retreat, got my mind right and I came back and these guys made it easy for me tonight."
Maybe more Lakers should go on "retreats." Young made five of seven from three-point range, the Lakers 12 of 22 as a team.
They hit the halfway point of the regular season, which hit them back plenty of times in three abysmal months. Almost nobody is been healthy for the Lakers (16-25), nobody's really played defense and only two victories had arrived in their previous 14 games.
But Kelly and Young scored 14 of the Lakers' last 18 points Sunday, Kelly starting their final push with a fall-down leaner with 6 minutes 20 seconds to play.
"People look at me and they say I'm this tall, skinny white guy. I've got a little bit of game," said Kelly, a second-round draft pick from Duke who made five of seven shots and all six of his free throws against Toronto.
Coach Mike D'Antoni used his 21st different starting lineup in 41 games. Then he said, accurately, "Ryan Kelly's stepping up huge for us."
Gasol continued his recent string of solid games, finishing with 22 points and nine rebounds. His averages in nine games this month — 20.4 points and 11.8 rebounds.