The cold tour and six-game road trip comes to a close this morning and the (20-7) Los Angeles Lakers are in the provincial capital of Ontario and Canada’s largest city Toronto, and in they’re only appearance at the Air Canada Centre to face the (10-17) Raptors.
The Lakers won’t 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, winners of four in a row, have an opportunity to post a six win-one loss record on this extended road trip.
The Lake Show dispatched the Sixers, 93-81, in a game that started off as a sloppy horrible shooting mess that had more than one patron asking another to confirm that they actually paid to see this. Both teams combined to miss the first nine shots of the game. One day after, the gymnasium dedication Kobe treated the Philly faithful to his lowest scoring total of the season in a rare off-night. Fortunately, Lamar Odom and Matt Barnes stepped up and saved the Lakers. Odom ignited a fourth quarter explosion that decided the game.
The Lakers face another young team with a roster laden with kids still learning what it takes to play in the NBA. Shooting guard and former USC Trojan DeMar DeRozen is in his second year, small forward Sonny Weems is in his third year and Westchester High School alumnus Power Forward Amir Johnson has had to spend some playing center.
Due to injury, Jerryd Bayless in his second year, was thrust into the action starting at point guard. The 22-year old combo-guard out of Arizona is on his third team. As a young team, there have been stretches that their youth has cost them games, with unproven players unable to handle key moments.
The Raptors are coming off of a win holding off the Nets 98-92. Veterans Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani returned from injury to carry the team. Calderon is the steady hand that leads this team, he understands how to get everybody in position.
The Lakers have to stop the dribble penetration of the guards, defend the screen and roll plays, get back in transition and rotate out to open shooters. Three of the Raptors starters are good shooters from distance so the Lakers will have to extend their defense out to the arc. They have to limit the points in the paint and do a better job of taking care of the ball.
This writer wants to see the Lakers control the tempo of the game, out-rebound and out-work the Raptors. The Lakers defense, energy and execution will carry them to a win.
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Raptors: J. Calderon, D. DeRozen, Linas Kleiza, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
Tip-off: 10:00 AM PST
- Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- Toronto: Score (Matt Devlin & Jack Armstrong)
- Los Angeles: ESPN 710 AM (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Toronto: FAN590 AM (Paul Jones & Eric Smith)
- Theo Ratliff ( Left Knee) Out
- Andrew Bynum (Right Knee) Probable
- Kobe Bryant (Sprained Pinkie Finger, Right Hand)
- SG Sonny Weems (Sore Lower Back) Questionable
- PF Reggie Evans (Back) Out
- SF Peja Stojakovic (Knee) Out