NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, March 8th (All times Eastern)
Toronto Raptors (24-38) at Los Angeles Lakers (31-31), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Lakers are back home, back to .500 and will continue their push to try and make the playoffs Friday night when they host the Toronto Raptors.
The Lakers suffered a 122-105 loss in Oklahoma City Tuesday night, but evened their record on Wednesday with a 108-102 road victory over the New Orleans Hornets.
Down 18 to start the final frame, Kobe Bryant and Jodie Meeks combined for 30 points in the fourth to stun the Hornets. Bryant, who injured his elbow against the Thunder, had 42 points and 18 came in the fourth when the Lakers outscored the Hornets, 33-9.
"It's about who is going to stick together and who is not going to break," said Bryant, who also had 12 assists in the victory. "Even though we played a team that doesn't have the best record in the world, I think this type of win really (helps) our bond."
Meeks contributed 19 off the bench and Dwight Howard enjoyed a great all- around game with 20 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks and three steals. Metta World Peace added 11 points.
The Lakers trail the Utah Jazz by 1 1/2 games for that final spot in the Western Conference playoff race.
L.A. will play the Chicago Bulls at home on Sunday, then head east for three games.
The Raptors stopped a five-game losing streak on Wednesday with a 98-71 drubbing of the Phoenix Suns. Friday's game with the Lakers ends a four-game western trip and the Raptors are 1-2 after Wednesday's huge win.
"I thought it was one of our most focused efforts of the year defensively," Raptors coach Dwayne Casey said. "Everyone that went into the game had a big time effort, a good defensive focus, and I thought they stayed to the task."
The bench did most of the damage for the Raptors on Wednesday. Amir Johnson had 14, Sebastian Telfair netted 13 and Alan Anderson and Terrance Ross had 10 apiece. The reserves, who saw a lot of minutes with Toronto up big, tallied 54 points.
The starters only managed 44 points, but only one starter, DeMar DeRozan, played over 24 minutes. DeRozan chipped in 15 and Jonas Valanciunas scored 10. Rudy Gay (5), Andrea Bargnani (9) and Kyle Lowry (5) all had off nights.
The Raptors beat the Lakers this season in Toronto, but have lost nine in a row on the road in this series.
03/08 10:41:44 ET