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Lakers struggling to contain high-scoring opponents

LAKERS FYI

Toronto point guard Jose Calderon has a career-best 30 points against the Lakers on Sunday, two days after New York's Jeremy Lin scored a career-high 38 against them.

February 12, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Raptors point guard Jose Calderon, who finished with a career-high 30 points, celebrates after making a long-range shot against the Lakers in the second half Sunday in Toronto.
Raptors point guard Jose Calderon, who finished with a career-high 30 points,… (Nathan Denette / Associated…)

Reporting from Toronto -- The Lakers used to shrug whenever opposing players had a career night against them, be it Gilbert Arenas' 60-point spree at Staples Center or anybody from Charlotte over the years.

Whatever. The Lakers would chuckle and win championships.

The laughter doesn't come as easily now when an opposing player blitzes them.

New York point guard Jeremy Lin crushed the Lakers with a career-high 38 points Friday and Toronto point guard Jose Calderon sprung for a career-best 30 points Sunday in the Lakers' narrow 94-92 victory.

Derek Fisher couldn't stop Calderon, picking up his fourth foul with 5:53 left in the third quarter and never reappearing in the game. Steve Blake tried to take it from there, but his on-court frustration grew with every three-pointer and pull-up jumper nailed by the Raptors' guard.

It got too predictable for Kobe Bryant. He asked to cover Calderon in the final few possessions Sunday.

As usual, the Lakers rallied around their perimeter defenders afterward.

"We have to be able to help our point guards a little bit more," Pau Gasol said. "We have to be more aggressive to the ball [on double teams]. We have to recognize that if a player is hurting us, we have to get the ball out of his hands. We're just not being very smart about it."

He's apparently healthy

Lakers followers cringed when Bryant sustained a torn ligament in his right wrist in December, but he is averaging an NBA-high 29.3 points.

He also has taken 675 shots, far more than the next player, Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant (523).

"I'm fine," Bryant said. "I've noticed a lot of people going down with injuries and I'm very proud to say that they're a lot younger than I am.

"Here I am, I haven't pulled a hamstring or pulled muscles or anything like that. Over the summer, I worked extremely hard trying to stay in shape and trying to get ready for this compression."

Bryant hasn't been solid in two important areas. He is shooting 44%, his lowest accuracy since 2004-05 (43.3%). He is also averaging 3.68 turnovers, the most in his career if he continued at that pace.

Red, White and Bryant

Bryant is always eager to look ahead to London in July.

"This is a big Olympics for us," he said. "We have an opportunity to cement ourselves again as being the powerhouse within the game. We won the last Olympics…won the Worlds [in 2010], and now we're on to the Olympics in London. I think that'll put us back where we belong."

Bryant didn't think the workload would be too much.

"I'm just the closer," he said. "They just bring me in the last two minutes if they need me. LeBron [James], [Dwyane] Wade, all those guys, they can do all the heavy lifting."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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