The (46-18) Los Angeles Lakers are back at home to host the (32-29) Toronto Raptors after staggering though a forgettable three-game road trip.

It happened after 217 games since Pau Gasol joined the Purple and Gold; the Lakers lost three games in a row. Seeing it happen wasn’t a big surprise nor does it signal that the Lakers run as Champions is over.

This is no time to panic Lakers fans; adversity can be a good thing. There is reason for concern, but the best thing for this team is to move on. I’m not buying the talk from naysayers that state that the Lakers can’t win a championship, the last time I checked, this team is still the defending NBA Champion until it loses in a seven game series.

The Lakers have to play better as a team and simply execute. The Lakers have to get back to the basics such as playing solid defense, eliminating the mental mistakes, rebounding, taking care of the basketball, and knocking down their free throws. The Purple and Gold are getting quality looks although the team isn’t knocking down the shots on a consistent basis.

The Lakers have a total of 18 games to right the ship, so to speak and start playing like a Champion.

Against the Raptors, the Lakers need to come out of the locker room with energy, focused, and aggressive from the start. Toronto is a dangerous team that can score several points, they are very successful with their screen and roll action plays and can attack the team with multiple ball handlers.

Jarrett Jack had a good game scoring 18 points against us in the game on January 24th, Hedo Turkoglu can handle the ball, score at will just like he did last season for the Orlando Magic.

The Raptors have several excellent shooters so it goes without saying that you can’t give this team open looks. They are 4th in the league in scoring.

The Lakers have to stop the dribble penetration to limit their ability to drive to the basketball causing the defense to collapse and kick the ball out to open shooters. The Lakers have been turning the ball over way too much allowing the opponent to score way too many points off of their turnovers.

The Lakers front line has to step up their game. Pau Gasol has spoken of balance and movement off the basketball. In the last meeting with the Raptors, the Lakers front line had a solid effort and combined for 48 points and 19 boards. The Lakers can snap their losing streak exact a little payback against Toronto with a solid team effort, playing good defense, using excellent ball movement, and excellent player movement and outworking the Raptors.

Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST

Television

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

Radio

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

Injuries

Lakers:

  • Kobe Bryant (Avulsion fracture of right index finger, elbow & back)
  • Sasha Vujacic (Sprained Right Shoulder) Probable
  • Luke Walton (Back) Out
  • Ron Artest (Sprained Left Thumb)
  • Shannon Brown (Sprained Right Thumb)

Raptors:

  • PF Hedo Turkoglu (Sore Left Ankle) Listed as Day-to-Day