Below is a running diary of L.A.’s fourth home contest of the season as the team looked for a sixth straight victory to start the season, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Raptors: Jarrett Jack, DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza, Reggie Evans and Andrea Bargnani
6:46 The Lakers were a bit sluggish at the game’s tip, missing four of five shots while conceding some easy buckets at the rim on the other end to the Raptors. But we did get to see a bit of retro Fisher, stripping the ball from Bargnani and finishing in transition after a pretty behind-the-back dribble that got Shannon Brown, Steve Blake and Derrick Caracter off the bench to cheer.
4:00 One player who didn’t start slow was Kobe, who nailed his first four shots to lead the Lakers on a 10-0 run that produced a lead. Historically, Bryant’s field goals also happened to allow him to pass Jerry West for second on the franchise’s all-time list for made field goals with 9,017. The only Laker still ahead of him is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who made 9,935 as a Laker.
0:03.9 One, two, three went Blake’s three-pointers through the rim, the final one to secure a lead out of the first for L.A. Keyed by Blake, the Lakers hit 13-of-18 shots to close the period with a 63.6 percent make ratio on offense, looking very much like the team currently leading the league in scoring (113.8 ppg).
9:00 Make that four threes for Blake, who drained yet another from the corner opposite L.A.’s bench that had been so kind to him in the first quarter, keeping L.A.’s lead at 40-29.
4:08 Two free throws from Bryant allowed him to join Gasol (14) and Blake (12) in double figures with 10 points, but the Lakers’ defense wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders, allowing the Raptors to shoot 50 percent to stay within eight points at 50-42.
2:15 Somehow, Toronto whittled L.A.’s lead down to just a single point at 50-49 before Artest managed to get an off-balance jumper to fall. The Lakers had cooled considerably from the field, most notably a 1-for-4 Odom, this because he entered the game shooting a league-best 70 percent through five games. Meanwhile, the Raptors managed to close the half on a 7-0 run to take a 58-55 lead, capped by a corner three from Leandro Barbosa (who had 15 points off the bench).
7:41 As Odom started to be more aggressive offensively, the Lakers reclaimed the lead, the lanky lefty first converting an and-1 layup and then hitting 1-of-2 free throws after Artest stripped Jack on defense and fed Odom in transition. Odom should also be given credit for holding Toronto’s best player, Bargnani, to only four points in the first half.
3:10 The Lakers were really struggling to find a rhythm in the third quarter, surprisingly so after such an impressive start to the season, as Toronto managed to maintain its three-point lead throughout the period. The Raptors almost pushed their lead to four with a two-on-one break, but sneaky-good-in-such-situations Fisher drew a charge on DeRozan to keep the margin at 78-76.
0:24.8 A Gasol free throw got the Spaniard to 22 points in his 34 (out of 36) minutes, and capped a 6-0 Lakers run to close the quarter, giving L.A. an 82-78 lead. Clearly, it wasn’t L.A.’s best three quarters of the season, but they remained in the driver’s seat.
9:58 A beautiful left-handed spinning hook from Gasol after a glide through the paint pushed L.A.’s lead to 89-80, capping an 11-2 run that began late in the third quarter. He’d check out moments later for a quick rest, with Odom returning for the home team.
5:15 Almost immediately upon checking back in to close the game, Bryant got the ball in the post on consecutive possessions, converting two free throws and a short jumper to put the Lakers up 97-92, getting himself to 20 points in the process. At long last, the Lakers had picked up their defensive energy.
1:09 It was L.A.’s two stars who finally put the game on ice, getting two free throws from Gasol and one from Bryant to take a 104-96 lead. Fisher’s fourth steal of the evening didn’t hurt the cause, either, setting up Bryant for the extra free throw. Incidentally, Gasol (28 points) and Bryant (21) became the first Lakers teammates since Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain in 1970 to score at least 20 points in the first six games of the season.
0:00 With the game essentially over, Bryant turned the ball over needlessly in the backcourt, and was just angry enough to volleyball spike the ensuing Linas Kleiza layup attempt. Gasol added two free throws to reach 30 points, and the Lakers emerged with a 108-103 victory to move to 6-0 on the young season.
Next up is a Sunday tilt against Portland at 6:30 p.m.