The Los Angeles Lakers look to end their season-long seven-game road trip on a high note, with an early afternoon affair north of the border against the Toronto Raptors. The Lakers are 5-1 on their current trip, and have won their last four straight contests. Since the return of center Andrew Bynum, the Lakers have won three straight games, all by double-digit points.
Bynum has played a total of 48 minutes in three games, scoring 13 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, along with two blocks. However, in his limited time on the floor Bynum has helped improve the team defensively. In the three games with Bynum back, the Lakers are allowing an average of 99.4 points per 100 possessions. It is a small sample to be sure, but to put that in perspective the Boston Celtics are leading the NBA this season in defensive rating, allowing 99.8 points per 100 possessions. On the season, the Lakers are 11th in the league in defensive rating, allowing 104.1 points per 100 possessions, but with Bynum their ranking should improve to somewhere closer to the fourth place standing the team held last season.
The Lakers have beaten Toronto in 23 of their 29 all-time meetings, including 10-4 at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors won their last meeting in Toronto, a 106-105 decision on January 24, 2010, but the Lakers have won eight of the last 10 meetings between the clubs overall. The Raptors have lost six of their last eight games to fall to 10-17 on the season, including 7-7 at home.
Kobe Bryant is coming off a season-low nine points in Friday's win in Philadelphia, but he is closing in on another scoring milestone. Bryant has scored 26,494 points in his career, all with the Lakers. It is the fourth-most points with one franchise in NBA history. He trails Hakeem Olajuwon by 17 points for third on the all-time list. Once Kobe passes Olajuwon, Bryant will trail only Karl Malone (36,374 points for Utah) and Michael Jordan (29,277 points for Chicago).
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