NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, February 4th (All times eastern)
Los Angeles Lakers (38-9) at Toronto Raptors (19-31), 7:00 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Fresh off his highest scoring effort of the season, Kobe Bryant leads the Los Angeles Lakers into the Air Canada Centre for tonight's clash with the Toronto Raptors, the team that witnessed the superstar guard's greatest performance of his career.
Bryant helped offset the loss of center Andrew Bynum by establishing a new scoring record at the current Madison Square Garden on Monday. The perennial All-Star poured in 61 points to lead the Lakers past the New York Knicks, 126-117.
Bryant finished 19-of-31 from the field and a perfect 20-of-20 from the charity stripe to edge Bernard King's previous record at the historic arena of 60 points, set for the Knicks against New Jersey on Christmas Day of 1984. Michael Jordan had held the scoring record for an opponent at Madison Square Garden when he amassed 55 points for the Bulls on March 28, 1995.
Pau Gasol added 31 points and 14 rebounds to help Los Angeles post its third straight win and seventh victory in its last eight games.
The Lakers did not receive such good news earlier on Monday, when the club learned that Bynum will miss between 8-to-12 weeks after an MRI revealed an MCL tear in his right knee. The young center, who is averaging 14.0 points and 8.2 rebounds on the season, hurt himself in the first quarter of Los Angeles' 115-98 win at Memphis on Saturday.
Bryant will try for an encore against a Raptors team that he erupted for a career-high 81 points against in a memorable game at the Staples Center on January 22, 2006. It was the second-highest single-game total in NBA history, surpassed only by Wilt Chamberlain's 100 points in 1962.
Toronto returns home after last night's 101-83 loss to the Central Division- leading Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena, the third consecutive setback for the Raptors, who own the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference at 19-31.
Chris Bosh had 29 points and Jermaine O'Neal added 20 points and eight boards for Toronto, which couldn't overcome a 37-15 deficit after one quarter of play. Andrea Bargnani posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
The Lakers have won 12 of their last 14 matchups with Toronto, including a 112-99 decision at the Staples Center on November 30, and are 9-3 all-time as the visitor in this series.
02/04 10:27:39 ET