Lakers move above .500 with overtime victory against the Raptors
Lakers 118, Raptors 116 OT (final)
It took 3 1/2 months, and an overtime period on Friday, but the Lakers are over .500 again.
The Lakers (32-31) beat Toronto, 118-116, at Staples Center on Friday night, thanks primarily to Kobe Bryant.
The All-Star guard scored 41 points, including a two-handed dunk over DeMar DeRozan to give the Lakers a 117-115 lead with 10.6 seconds to go. Bryant also led the Lakers with 12 assists.
Rudy Gay missed a 15-footer at the buzzer to seal the Lakers’ win.
The Lakers trailed for most of the game before Bryant hit a three-pointer with 4.4 seconds left to tie the score at 109. Gay also missed a jumper at the buzzer for Toronto in regulation that could have won the game.
Dwight Howad had 24 pionts and 13 rebounds while Steve Nash added 22 points for the Lakers.
DeRozan led the Raptors with 28 points.
Lakers 109, Raptors 109 (end of regulation)
Kobe Bryant hit a three-pointer from the right wing with 4.4 seconds left to tie the score at 109.
He made three three-pointers in the final two minutes as the Lakers overcame a six-point deficit.
Bryant has 37 points as the game heads into overtime.
Rudy Gay had a chance to give the Raptors the victory, but he missed an 18-footer from the wing as time expired.
Raptors 89, Lakers 79 (end of third quarter)
The Raptors padded their lead in the third quarter as DeMar DeRozan continued to dominate on the offensive end. He’s missed only two of 12 shots and leads Toronto with 22 points, while Rudy Gay has scored 17.
Kobe Bryant hit consecutive three-pointers, then stole the ball from Gay for layup to cut the Raptors’ lead to 83-73 with 3 1/2 minutes in the quarter.
Bryant had 11 points in the quarter and has 22 in the game.
The Raptors led by double digits for much of the quarter, when Dwight Howard also missed four consecutive free throws.
Raptors 59, Lakers 53 (halftime)
The Raptors shot 57.8% in the first half, with 15 points coming on fastbreaks.
But once Kobe Bryant returned to the game with about five minutes left in the second quarter, the Lakers cut into the Raptors’ double-digit lead.
Bryant had 11 points and seven assists in the half and was looking to get the ball down low to Dwight Howard, who led the Lakers with 16 points.
DeMar DeRozan, the former Trojan, had a big half for Toronto, hitting seven of nine shots to lead his team with 14 points.
Bryant blew by DeRozan for a dunk with 3:14 to go in the second quarter to cut the Raptors’ lead to 54-46, and then fed Howard for a layup with about two minutes left.
A put-back basket by Metta World Peace with three seconds left cut the Raptors’ lead to six points.
Steve Nash had another quiet half with only three points and one assist in 18 minutes.
Raptors 37, Lakers 25 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers defense was soft, with the Raptors shooting 73.9% from the field in the quarter, and all of the Raptors starters scored within the first seven minutes.
DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 12 points, hitting six of seven shots, while Rudy Gay, the new Raptors forward, added nine points.
The Raptors also had 11 fastbreak points to four for the Lakers.
Lakers moved the ball well early, with six assists -- four by Kobe Bryant -- in the first five minutes of the quarter.
Bryant had six points and six assists in the quarter, as well as five turnovers, and he played all 12 minutes.
It says a lot about the Lakers’ disappointing season that the last time they were over .500 was just before Thanksgiving.
Their high-water mark came on Nov. 20th when the Lakers won at Brooklyn for a 6-5 record. Since then, they’ve had six chances to climb over the .500 mark, and failed in each of them.
The Lakers (31-31) get another chance Friday night at Staples Center when they play Toronto, which has a 9-22 road record. With 20 games left in the regular season, the Lakers are two games behind Houston and Utah in the loss column for the final playoff spots in the West.
The Lakers lost at Toronto, 108-103, in late January. But the Raptors have a new look, with Rudy Gay -- acquired in a six-player trade--– starting at small forward.
Gambling site Betus.com favors the Lakers by 7 1/2 points tonight.
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