Friday, March 8, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Lakers 118, Raptors 116 (OT)
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- How do you trump coming back from 25 points to win on the road?
How about Kobe Bryant personally hitting three 3-pointers in the final 1:41 of regulation to force overtime in a game that the Los Angeles Lakers trailed the Toronto Raptors by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter?
How about the 3-pointers not even being Bryant's most impressive plays of the night?
Bryant topped himself again with yet another highlight-reel classic hammer dunk in overtime to give L.A. the lead for good at 117-115.
Bryant finished with 41 points and 12 assists, his second straight game going for 40-plus points with 12 dimes.
The Lakers' season wouldn't have been over had Bryant not stepped in to save the day once again, but it certainly wouldn't have been this fun, or historic for that matter.
Bryant is not going down without a fight and that means, no matter what garbage the Lakers have had to wade through so far this season, his team has a fighter's chance.
How it happened: Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Lakers play a subpar team that is looking to give some meaning to its season by beating all the glitz and glamour that is the Lakers so the whole league pays attention, and L.A. doesn't come out with anywhere near the requisite energy and focus to keep said subpar team from thinking it has a prayer. Maybe it was just making the comeback from 15 points down even that much more spectacular. Seems kind of like the script the entire Lakers season has followed.
What it means: It took 108 days, but the 32-31 Lakers are back over .500 for the first time since Nov. 20, when they were 6-5 following Mike D'Antoni's first game on the sidelines.
Hits: Two games after tying his Lakers career high with 20 points against Oklahoma City, Steve Nash had his shooting touch going again and set a new high with 22 points on 7-for-13 shooting, including a huge game-tying 3 in OT.
Howard, although just 6-for-13 from the line for the game, went 2-for-2 from the stripe with 3:55 remaining in the fourth when the Raptors briefly employed a Hack-a-Howard strategy. Oh, not to mention he had 24 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and five blocks.
Misses: Bryant had nine turnovers, but who are we to quibble?
Other than Bryant's ridiculous 5-for-10 night from deep, the Lakers shot 9-for-29 from 3 as a team (31.0 percent) with the main culprits being Jodie Meeks (2-for-9), Metta World Peace (1-for-6) and Antawn Jamison (1-for-4).
Stat of the game: Just take a look at Bryant's line one more time: 41 points and 12 assists, a game after he had 42 and 12. Nutty. Simply nutty.
What's next: The Lakers host the Chicago Bulls on Sunday in a game that tips off at 12:30 p.m. PT. L.A. always seems to struggle with early starts, but it should be thrilled to play the Bulls any time of day considering Chicago's Marco Belinelli knocked off the Utah Jazz, the team currently occupying the No. 8 spot in the West, with a winning shot on Friday night.