L.A. Lakers 104, Toronto 88
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 29 (Ticker) --
The Los Angeles Lakers may be taking
small steps, but they are moving forward.
had 35 points and 10 rebounds and Kobe Bryant
added 13 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds as the Lakers
bolted to an early lead and coasted by the Toronto Raptors,
added 15 for the Lakers, who posted back-to-back wins
for the first time since December 6 and 8. Los Angeles, which
routed Denver on Saturday, won on the second night of
back-to-back games for the first time in seven tries this
The Lakers also improved to 13-19 overall following their third
win in four games. Last season, the three-time defending
champions were 26-6 through 32 contests.
"With our experience we know we can really make up some ground,"
Bryant said. "We are moving in the right direction. We took a
couple of steps forward these last two games."
had 18 points and Lindsey Hunter
added 14 for
the Raptors, who trailed by eight after 12 minutes and 58-44 at
Toronto has lost six straight.
Toronto had no answers for O'Neal, who made 14-of-18 shots from
the floor and scored 30 points for the seventh time in 19 games
this season. He has five straight double-doubles and 13 this
"He was pretty good," Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens said. "That's
the quickest I have ever seen him and we had no answer for him
tonight. There was a couple of times when we couldn't even get
there and double team him."
"I thought he pivoted out of trouble today more than having to
go through and power through people," Lakers coach Phil Jackson
Toronto hung around early and was within 18-16 when the Lakers
used a 10-4 run to close the quarter. O'Neal had 11 and Fox
nine in the opening period.
A 3-pointer by Hunter had Toronto within 36-28 with 7:19 to go
but O'Neal had a layup 16 seconds later to ignite a 14-1 run.
O'Neal had nine points in the spurt.
"Shaq just set the tempo early on and dominated the game,"
Raptors guard Alvin Williams
said. "We could not catch up from
that. They got too good a lead in the first half."
"He said he had a good days' rest and he felt ready to play and
came out and just dominated from the opening tip," Bryant said.
Los Angeles made 59.5 percent (25-of-42) of its shots in the
opening half and took advantage of 10 Raptors' turnovers.
Toronto never got the deficit to single digits in the fourth
quarter and trailed by 20 with just over four minutes left.
The Lakers shot just 3-of-14 from 3-point range but were
43-of-81 from the field overall. Los Angeles held a 44-29
rebounding edge, helping to offset 17 turnovers.
Los Angeles rookie Kareem Rush
logged a season-high 26 minutes
in the victory.