Turkoglu's Timely Free Throws Help Raptors Bump Off Lakers
Related: Box Score | Photos | Game Rap: Turkoglu's Timely Free Throws Lift Raptors
Video: Game In Six | Triano | Bargnani | Jarrett Jack | Calderon | Turkoglu | Belinelli
More Video: Jack Pregame With Matt Devlin | Bargnani's Big Reverse Slam | Turkoglu's Touch Pass
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January 24, 2010
TORONTO (CP) - Jay Triano spoke in calm, measured tones that would have been inaudible only a few minutes earlier. It would have been impossible to hear anyone speak as one of the largest regular season crowds in Toronto Raptors history cheered what could become a signpost victory.
The Raptors clawed, scraped and fought their way from a double-digit deficit to upset the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers at Air Canada Centre. Toronto secured a dramatic 106-105 win when Kobe Bryant's final, desperate shot missed the mark just as time expired in the fourth quarter on Sunday, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
Triano, the Raptors coach, was remarkably subdued.
``I hope it builds momentum,'' he said. ``I'd hate to single it out as a great, great win, and us hanging our hats on that. There's a lot of basketball that we still have to play, and we want to use the momentum from this win and keep moving forward.''
The win came two days after the Raptors erased a 15-point deficit en route to a win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Toronto had already beaten the Dallas Mavericks and, despite a record that had the team closer to the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff picture than the top, each big win was another small, positive sign.
And beating the Lakers?
``Huge win,'' Raptors forward Chris Bosh said. ``Not only because it was against the Lakers, but (because) we're continuing to play well at home.''
The Raptors have won nine of their last 10 games at Air Canada Centre, where the team drew its fifth-largest regular season crowd (20,111) on Sunday. Andrea Bargnani, who was sidelined with a sore back on Friday, led the team with 22 points, while Bosh and Jarrett Jack had 18 each.
Bryant had a chance to win it on the final play, but missed the mark on a desperate, long-distance shot from beyond the three-point line. Hedo Turkoglu gave the Raptors their decisive points with a pair of free throws moments earlier.
It was a dramatic and unexpected turn. The Lakers never trailed throughout the first half, surrendering the lead for the first time only when there were about seven minutes left to play in the game.
``It just rimmed out,'' Bryant told reporters after the game. ``It felt pretty good, but it just came up a little short.''
The Lakers, for their many gifts and NBA-best record of 33-10 heading into the game, are not without their blemishes. The team opened its season-high eight-game road trip with a loss in Cleveland on Thursday, a 93-87 defeat that left Bryant steaming.
Los Angeles rebounded with a win against the middling New York Knicks the next night, but left Manhattan without answering many of the questions about their level of focus _ primarily because they left without one of their veteran players.
Centre Andrew Bynum missed the team flight to Toronto on Saturday. His luggage made the trip, but he did not, after falling back to sleep after placing his bags outside the hotel room door for pickup.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said on Sunday that Bynum would be fined, though reportedly only about US$250, which is roughly the cost of what Bynum paid in airfare to catch up with his teammates.
Bryant, greeted with a smattering of boos in the pre-game introduction, had 14 points at the break. Bosh had 12 points to lead the Raptors, while Bargnani overcame his sore back to give the crowd its first thrill against the Lakers, driving through the lane for a one-handed reverse dunk in the first quarter.
``We think that we're playing pretty well, and we're confident,'' Triano said. ``There were a couple of times today when we could have folded: we got down eight, nine points, but we never did. Our guys just kept battling.''
NOTES: Lakers forward Ron Artest is suffering from plantar fasciitis in both feet, and coach Phil Jackson suggested the player's shoes bear at least part of the blame. ``I've called his shoes concrete boots for about the last month,'' Jackson said with a smile on Sunday ... Toronto will not host Los Angeles in the regular season again this year ... The Raptors were 0-2 against the Lakers last season, and have lost each of their last seven in Los Angeles ... Toronto guard Jose Calderon missed the final minutes of the third quarter after he was cut above the right eye by contact with Los Angeles guard Derek Fisher. Calderon returned to the floor with eight minutes to play in the fourth, with two stitches in his face ... Toronto FC's incoming head coach, Preki, was in attendance.