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Sunday, January 20, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Raptors 108, Lakers 103

By Dave McMenamin



TORONTO -- Sunday was the start of a brutal stretch of 10 of the next 13 games on the road for a Lakers team that began the season just 5-12 away from Staples Center.

How does Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni see it? Do the Lakers need to go 10-3 to get back into it? Would 8-5 be a good start?

"We look at it as we need 13," D'Antoni said before the Lakers played the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. "We've got to get them all. Knowing that maybe you don’t, but you try to look at today, live in the moment and go forward. The road can be a great place to find yourself. It can be a great place to have team unity, so, we’re going to try to do that."

Well, now getting all 13 is out of the question. You have to wonder if this stretch of road games will ultimately galvanize the lifeless Lakers or fully pull them apart.

How it happened: The Raptors ran out to a 25-9 lead with 3:08 remaining in the first quarter. The Lakers were able to get the lead down to two just before halftime, but Toronto was back up by 13 heading into the fourth.

The Raptors used a 10-0 run in the first half of the fourth quarter to push their lead to 19 at 95-76. L.A. used a too-little, too-late push to get it back down to six points in the final minute, but it ended up as yet another L in the books for the 17-23 Lakers.

What it means: The Lakers circled this three-game road trip through Toronto, Chicago and Memphis as a time to dig in and start to get their season back on track. Now, the best they can do is go 2-1 and the only way they do that is win on the second night of a back-to-back against the Bulls and pull of a victory against the Grizzlies, one of the top teams in the West.

Hits: Pau Gasol had 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting as he returned to the starting lineup. Gasol's offense really picked up in the second half with Dwight Howard out of the game (more on that later) and him being the primary offensive weapon in the post.

Earl Clark had 14 points and 14 rebounds off the bench, accounting for his third double-double in his last six games. In the first 149 games on Clark's career with Phoenix, Orlando and the Lakers, the versatile forward had just one double-double.

Misses: Howard picked up his second technical of the game just before the half, finishing with a measly five points and two rebounds. It was his second ejection of the season.

The Lakers allowed the Raptors to shoot 54.8 percent as a team overall and 58.8 percent from 3 (10-for-17) and were outscored 16-5 in fastbreak points.

Stat of the night: Kobe Bryant shot just 10-for-32 from the field, bringing his two-game total in the Lakers' last two losses to Miami and Toronto to 18-for-57 (31.6 percent). He may have scored a game-high 26 points, but he also had a game-high six turnovers.

What's next: The Lakers play in Chicago on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.