It wasn't pretty, and it was nearly disastrous, but the Los Angeles Lakers managed to hold on for a victory Sunday morning in Toronto, but a win is a win any way they can get it. Kobe Bryant scored 20 of his 27 points in the second half, including the game-winning jumper with 4.8 seconds remaining as the Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 94-92 at Air Canada Centre in the final game of a six-game road trip.
Bryant scored nine points in the third quarter, and 11 points in the fourth quarter. Down by four points with a minute remaining, Kobe hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to one point, then stole the ball from Linus Kleiza and passed ahead to Metta World Peace to regain the lead. After a Jose Calderon jumper with 16.9 seconds left to give Toronto the lead, Bryant hit a 17-footer from the right baseline with 4.8 seconds left to give the Lakers a 93-92 lead.
On their ensuing possession, the Raptors were called for a five-second violation as Rasual Butler, who hadn't played all game, couldn't get the ball in on time. Toronto coach Dwane Casey was adamant on the sideline that he was calling timeout, but did not get the call.
Bryant made one of two free throws to widen the Lakers lead to two points, and DeMar DeRozan missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have given Toronto the win.
A hot first quarter, during which the Lakers shot 70% from the field, saw the Lakers build an 18-point lead. But the Raptors slowly chipped away and cut the lead to eight points by halftime and were within three points in the third quarter after the Lakers had a span of 5:36 without a field goal that carried over from the end of the second quarter into the third.
The Raptors cut the lead to one point at three different times in the fourth quarter before finally tying the game on a three-pointer from Jose Calderon with 3:13 remaining in the game. That was the start of a 7-0 run for Toronto, which took their first lead of the game on a slam dunk by Ed Davis at 2:49 remaining.
After making 14 of 20 shots in the first quarter, the Lakers made 21 of 61 field goals the rest of the way (34.4%).
Pau Gasol had 16 points, a season-high-tying 17 rebounds, and six assists for the Lakers, who improved their road record to 5-10 on the season. Andrew Bynum added 14 points, nine rebounds, and two blocked shots.
The Lakers have beaten the Raptors in four straight contests, including their last two trips to Toronto. The Lakers are 25-6 all-time against the Raptors, including 12-4 in Toronto.
Calderon led Toronto with a season-high 30 points and six assists. Kleiza scored 15 and Leandro Barbosa scored 12, both off the bench, for the Raptors, who shot 47.7% for the game and made six of 11 shots from three-point range.
The Lakers have had an extended road trip of five games or more to accommodate the Grammy Awards at Staples Center in 12 of the last 13 years, and their cumulative record on those road trips is 49-31 (.613). The Lakers will arrive back in Los Angeles Sunday night, and will next host the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday at Staples Center.
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