The Lakers often seem to bring out the best in their road opponents, and Wednesday evening’s matchup with the Raptors in Toronto proved not to be an exception.
A gritty pack of Raptors used their size advantage – with seven-footer Andrea Bargnani playing the three – to lead by five at the half and two after three, but All-Stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol proved too much for Toronto in crunch time. Chris Bosh left the game with about eight minutes left in the fourth, just moments before Bryant entered and scored 10 of his 36 points to take the Lakers to their fourth straight road victory.
While Kobe’s been Kobe, how good has Gasol been since Andrew Bynum went down against Memphis?
After posting 31 points, 14 boards, five assists and two blocks against the Knicks on Monday, Pau put up 31 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks in 44 minutes in Canada. Not bad, but perhaps even more impressive was Gasol’s offensive efficiency: he made 12-of-17 shots (70.1 percent) just as he did against the Knicks.
The Lakers also got solid contributions from Sasha Vujacic, Josh Powell and Jordan Farmar in particular to help close the game out with respective threes, blocks and dimes, while Lamar Odom made consecutive terrific defensive plays in crunch time.
L.A.’s six-game Grammy trip concludes with contests against the East’s best squads with Boston on Thursday night and Cleveland on Sunday.
Until then, here are some numbers upon which to chew:
Consecutive threes made by Kobe Bryant (3) and Derek Fisher during a 12-2 first quarter run that got L.A. back into the game after Toronto opened a 21-9 lead.
Assists in just 18 foul-plagued minutes from Luke Walton, who added three boards. The five helpers were matched by Bryant to lead the Lakers.
Blocks by Jermaine O’Neal, who was a monster around the rim. He added 22 points, nine boards and four assists in a terrific performance.
Bench points for the short-handed Raptors, who were without starting point guard Jose Calderon. Roko Ukic had eight points (four came late when the game was decided) and Jamario Moon two, while Jason Kapono didn’t score in his 14 minutes of burn.
Second-chance points by L.A., who got a game-high five offensive boards from Gasol and two from sub Chris Mihm in 3:29.
Shooting percentage for the Lakers, who made 45-of-89 shots, including 7-of-17 from three.