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sunday, december 8 6:30pm at the staples center

Los Angeles Lakers Logo

los angeles



(10 - 10)

(7 - 12)
30 21 22 33 106
20 27 21 26 94

Lakers Leaders

19 PTS
Pau Gasol, Nick Young
Jordan Hill, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol
Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake
Jordan Hill, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson

Game Starters

W. Johnson SF L. Fields
P. Gasol PF A. Johnson
R. Sacre C J. Valanciunas
K. Bryant SG D. Derozan
S. Blake PG K. Lowry

Injury Report


K. Bryant: Achilles Probable

S. Nash: Back Out

Jordan Farmar: Hamstring Out


T. Hansbrough: Shoulder Questionable

Kobe Returns, but Raptors beat lakers 106-94

By Greg Beacham

December 08, 2013

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant had nine points and eight rebounds in his season debut for the Lakers, but Amir Johnson scored a career-high 32 points in the trade-depleted Toronto Raptors' 106-94 victory over Los Angeles on Sunday night.

Bryant began his 18th NBA season by going 2 for 9 with four assists and eight turnovers in 28 minutes. The fourth-leading scorer in NBA history hadn't played since tearing his Achilles tendon in April, undergoing several months of rehabilitation to return for Los Angeles' 20th game of the new season.

But the Lakers never led, and Toronto improbably snapped its five-game losing streak despite playing without forward Rudy Gay, who is expected to be traded to Sacramento on Monday as the centerpiece of an apparent seven-player deal.

Kyle Lowry had 23 points and eight assists, and DeMar DeRozan added 10 of his 26 points in the final 4:35 of the Raptors' first road win over the Lakers in 11 tries since Dec. 28, 2001.

Nick Young scored 19 points for the Lakers, who went 10-9 without Bryant this season, forging a winning record without the five-time NBA champion and with little help from fellow injured MVP Steve Nash.

Adoring fans cheered Kobe's every move and forgave every misstep, but Bryant couldn't rally the Lakers late despite another huge game by Los Angeles' reserves. Xavier Henry scored 17 points off the bench, and Jodie Meeks added 14.

The Raptors had 11 players available after holding out Gay, center Aaron Gray and forward Quincy Acy, all set to head to the Kings in exchange for Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons and Chuck Hayes.

That turned out to be plenty, thanks to two Los Angeles natives. Johnson, who attended nearby Westchester High School, went 14 for 17 and surpassed his previous career high early in the third quarter. Johnson didn't take a shot in the fourth, but USC product DeRozan and Lowry held off the Lakers.

The 35-year-old Bryant hadn't played since getting hurt in a home game against Golden State on April 12, making two free throws on a torn Achilles tendon before limping to the Staples Center locker room. He had immediate surgery, vowing to return close to full strength - and after working his way back into practices with the Lakers in the last few weeks, he pronounced himself ready.
The building had the buzz of a playoff game before the opening tip, with most fans in their seats with cameras trained on Bryant during opening warmups. The building erupted in loud applause at every mention of Kobe, who was introduced last in the starting lineup to the thunderous strains of "The Imperial March" - Darth Vader's theme from "Star Wars."

The crowd roared again the first time Bryant touched the ball, and he found Robert Sacre underneath the hoop for an assist on Los Angeles' first possession. With his wife, Vanessa, and two daughters sitting courtside, Bryant hit a free throw for his first point in the second quarter, followed shortly by an 8-foot, double-pump, left-handed bank shot for his first field goal.

Bryant added a signature 22-foot face-up jumper later in the period, but also showed clear signs of rust and unfamiliarity with his new teammates.

NOTES: The officials allowed Toronto C Jonas Valanciunas to make two free throws out of a timeout late in the first quarter, but belatedly realized Lowry was supposed to take the shots. They wiped the two points off the board and put Lowry back at the line, where he made both shots anyway. ... Terrence Ross banked in a 53-footer at the first-quarter buzzer to put Toronto up 30-20. ... Dodgers slugger Yasiel Puig sat near courtside in a gold Bryant jersey. George Lopez and Mindy Kaling also attended the game.



Game Quotes

Lakers Head Coach Mike D’Antoni:

(On Kobe physically)

“As good as he could be. It’s going to take a while…There’s no way you can be away for 8 months, [miss] training camp, and come out and be in mid-season form. It’s going to take him a while. We knew that, and that’s why the other guys really had to step up around him, and we didn’t do that.”

(On Pau Gasol’s struggles)

“I don’t know. I know his ankles have been bothering him a little bit here and there, but we need him and if you look at the stat sheet, our bench is all double figures, so obviously I might have to double think who starts. I don’t know, but he’ll be back. Everybody got hyped up and psyched up and excited for the game, and to come out and just lay an egg, that’s basically what we did. ”

(On the teams’ tentativeness towards Kobe Bryant)

“It’s like that. I cautioned them not to watch, and they didn’t know where to go and what to do…You play all September, and all training camp, and play 19, 20 games –you play a certain way, and when that is disrupted then they are times when you don’t look good, and we didn’t look good…The only time we had a little flurry was when we had that group that’s been playing together, and it wasn’t enough.”

(On whether he thought about not bringing Kobe Bryant back in the fourth)

“I wanted to live a little bit. We’re going to get through this, so maybe you lose the skirmish, and then the battle is bigger. Obviously we’re going to ride Kobe, so we might as well get it over with…One game’s not going to kill us, but we have to get him back as soon as we can.

(On Kobe’s performance tonight)

“He’ll work through his issues, and again, they’re baby steps. He’s coming back from a tough injury, and he’s coming off 8 months…he is human, I think. We have to understand it’s going to take the other players around him. It’s going to be a little painful at first, but the biggest thing is just getting everybody else to step up and take care of him, and we did not do that.

(On how the Toronto Raptors trade of Rudy Gay might have affected their play)
“Historically, when you make a trade like that, they’re going to bond together. Just like when you fire a coach, first couple games you play well so we kind of alerted [the Lakers], you know [Toronto] is going to play.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

(On what it felt like returning to the court, and how he physically feels after completing his first game of the season)

“It was weird. It was really weird. I think the last time I had eight months off I was still in the womb. It felt good to get out there. [Physically] I feel fine actually. Playing those minutes I think was a lot less of toll on my body, so I feel fine. Conditioning, I really worked on my conditioning, I feel like I can run all day long. It’s a matter of getting those game legs back. The shot feels weird. Running and cutting and being able to explode feel weird because you kind of have to get those game legs back.”

(On if he felt he wasn’t able to accomplish the things physically that he wanted to)

“No. I feel like I could get to the spots I wanted to. I was doing therapy and I was watching some of the game film and I was pleased at how I was moving a little bit. It’s always one thing where you gauge how you’re feeling while you’re doing it and then you look at it and you see that you’re moving a lot better than you thought you were. So it’s just a matter of trusting certain things and also experimenting too. You have to be able to throw yourself out there and take off the leg a little bit and measure it and you can’t just shy away from it and put all the stress on the healthy leg because then you’ll wear that one out too.”

(On if he feels he can be what he was before this injury in a short period of time)

“I felt good that I was able to get into the lane. If I felt like, ‘Okay I want to penetrate now,’ I could penetrate and turn the corner, which was a big question mark for me. Then once I got in there [the lane] I didn’t make the proper reads, most of the time. The fact is that I was able to get in there. The reads you can improve, the explosiveness you can’t, so a little bit was there.”

(On when in tonight’s game he felt like his normal self)

“I don’t feel normal at all. I couldn’t wait to start watching the film and start criticizing every little thing and I’ll go home tonight and watch it over again, but that’s the exciting part. The exciting part is you got a challenge and you got some improvements to make and you sit and you watch them and you break it down and you get ready for the next game and carry it from there.”

Lakers forward Wesley Johnson

(On tonight’s loss)

“It was a slow start. We didn’t have a defensive stand, and they [Toronto] got a lot of points in the paint.”

(On tonight’s defensive showing)

“It was a lack of communication. We rotated slow, and they had it going. It was one of those things where they had it going, and we couldn’t get into a flow of things. It was the story of the night. They jumped on us early, and stayed on us. .”
Lakers guard Nick Young

(On his acrobatic layup attempt in the third quarter)

“I kind of stuck in the air. I had to… I do that all the time. I did it, I was kind of stuck, and he [Toronto defender] hit my arm, which is why the ball went over the rim.”

(On playing with Kobe Bryant)

“It’s crazy. From the start of the game: The fans, they changed the intro, and there was cameras everywhere. It was big time. I finally got to see what Showtime is really about.”

Lakers guard Xavier Henry

(On the game)

“We came out a little slow. We do that sometimes. We just had to fight back. It was to have Kobe back with us. To have him come down the floor with us. We’re going to have to work on some things now, but it was good for a first game. I’m glad he [Bryant] did alright.”

(On adjusting the lineup with Bryant)

“We have a lot of things that are different. We have point guards that are out so I have to play backup point guard, we have Kobe coming back, so everything shifts. Everybody just has to find their way, and we’ll figure it out in due time. In practice, games…before long we’ll know what we’re doing. For sure.”

(On the crowd ovation for Bryant)

“It was great. It was a well-deserved one. He’s done a lot for the league as well as for the Lakers, so I’m glad they came out and supported him, sold-out crowd and everything, and that’s what should happen for him.”

Lakers guard Jodie Meeks

(On what contributed to the Lakers’ 19 turnovers)

“We just need to make the easy play. Guys, a majority of the time, do. Sometimes you have games like this, but you just have to forget about it and come back Tuesday ready to win.”

(On playing with Bryant)

“It was great. Maybe he’s a little rusty, but it’s been eight months since he last played. But it won’t take him long to get back, and I don’t think it’s going to get in the way.”

(On facing Phoenix on Tuesday)

“It’ll be a tough game. They’re a young team that likes to get up and down, but so do we. I look forward to the challenge, and we have to find a way to win this game. We’re back to .500, and we don’t want to slip under again.”

Game Notes

All-Time Series Notes: The Lakers split the 2012-13 season-series with Toronto 1-1 after
rallying behind a 41-point/12-assist game from Lakers G Kobe Bryant to secure a win in the
team’s second meeting of the year … In 2011-12, the Lakers won their lone game against
the Raptors on a Bryant fade-away jumper from the corner with 4.8 seconds remaining ...
The two teams have split seven season series while the Lakers have swept the other 10. ..
The Lakers have never lost a season series with Toronto ... This will be the 34th meeting
between the two teams with the Lakers leading the all-time series 26-7 ... In the two teams’
20th meeting back on January 22, 2006, Bryant made NBA history, scoring 81 points
including 55 points in the second half to bring the Lakers back from 18 down to defeat the
Raptors 122-104 at STAPLES Center ... Only Wilt Chamberlain in March of 1962 scored
more points in a game (100) and points in a half (59) than Bryant ... In addition, Bryant
eclipsed Elgin Baylor’s franchise record 71 points in a game and his own franchise record for
points in a half (42) in what was ultimately the Lakers largest come-from-behind victory of the
season ... The 122 points scored by the Lakers in the contest were the most ever scored by
Los Angeles against Toronto, eclipsing the old mark of 120 points established in the teams’
first ever game back on December 8, 1995 ... Back on February 1, 2008, the Lakers matched
their largest margin of victory against Toronto with a 121-101 victory at Air Canada Centre ...
The Lakers are 8-2 in their last 10 overall games against the Raptors ... The Lakers, winners
of their last ten straight home games against the Raptors, are 11-2 all-time against Toronto at
STAPLES Center ... When visiting Toronto, the Lakers are 12-5 all-time against the Raptors
and 6-4 in their last 10 visits to Air Canada Centre ... In 28 career games (24 starts) against
Toronto, Bryant is averaging 28.3 points, his second highest total against any one team
behind Charlotte (28.7)

Connections: Lakers F Pau Gasol and Raptors F Rudy Gay were teammates in Memphis for a little more than a season together in Memphis (2006-08) ... Gasol and Raptors G
Kyle Lowry played in Memphis together in 2006-07 and part of 2007-08 ... Raptors C/F Amir Johnson played his prep ball locally at Westchester HS while Toronto G DeMar
DeRozen also played his prep ball locally at Compton HS and collegiately at USC ... While with the New York Knicks, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni coached Raptors F Landry
Fields in 2010-11 and part of 2011-12 as well as Raptors G Steve Novak in part of 2011-12 ... Fields was born in Long Beach and played prep ball at Los Alamitos High School…
Lakers assistant Johnny Davis served as an assistant in Toronto from 2011-13 … Lakers C Robert Sacre and Raptors F Austin Daye were teammates at Gonzaga University
during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.