(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

It’s February 12, 2012 and the (15-12) Los Angeles Lakers are in the provincial capital of Ontario and Canada’s largest city Toronto, and in their only appearance at the Air Canada Centre to face the (9-19) Raptors.

The Lakers will not have time to visit the CN Tower the world’s tallest freestanding structure or Toronto’s majestic castle, Casa Loma. This is still a business trip: the purple and gold have an opportunity to earn a much-needed win and finish off their extended road trip with a .500 record.

There are no excuses; the Knicks beat the Lakers and snapped their nine-game losing streak leading to many raised eyebrows, although it was evident that the emotional overtime win over the Celtics took something out of the Lakers. Today’s game will be the Lakers sixth in nine and a half days and an early start has never been advantageous for the purple and gold.

L.A. faces another young team with a solid point guard that wants to get out in transition and run. Jose Calderon is a talented point guard who had a 17-point 14-assist game in the win over the Celtics. The Raptors have two L.A. area natives on their roster in starting shooting guard and former USC Trojan DeMar DeRozen their leading scorer who put up 21-points against Boston and Westchester high school alumnus Amir Johnson. The Lakers have to get off to a fast start and play with energy, focus, intensity and with a sense of urgency.

The Lakers need to establish Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant in the post. It would behoove the Lakers to start their offense on the inside and provide Bynum & Gasol 35+ shot attempts. The Lakers are settling for entirely too many jump shots and not getting the ball into their big players. The Lakers have to do a better job of moving the basketball and moving bodies to find a high percentage shot.

If the Lakers returned to running the triangle offense, their offensive production would increase. The core of the team is still familiar with the offense that has produced multiple championships.

The Lakers seem to play better defense at Staples Center than on the road. To come away with a win the Lakers have to communicate on defense, do a solid job of defending the pick-and-roll play, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, control the tempo, get back in transition, win the rebounding battle and quickly rotate out to open shooters.

The Lakers bench has to become a factor and contribute. The return of Steve Blake should increase the bench production. L.A. has to have more production out of Metta World Peace, Derek Fisher and all of the small forwards. The Lakers need to get back to developing their younger players.

Starters
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, M. Peace, P.Gasol, A. Bynum
Raptors:
J. Calderon, D. DeRozen, J. Johnson, A. Johnson, A. Gray

Tip-off: 10:00 AM PST

Television

  • Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
  • Toronto:  Score (Matt Devlin & Jack Armstrong)

Radio

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
  • Toronto: FAN590 AM (Paul Jones & Eric Smith)

Injuries

Lakers:

  • Josh McRoberts (Sprained Left Big Toe) Probable
  • Kobe  Bryant (Torn Lunotriquetral Ligament, Right Wrist) Probable

Raptors:

  • Andrea Bargnani (Calf) Out