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Lakers beat Raptors, and it all evens out in the end

Lakers' 94-92 victory in Toronto is interesting, if not exactly fun, as Kobe Bryant hits the winning jumper with 4.2 seconds left and L.A. survives a wild final sequence to finish 3-3 on Grammy trip.

February 12, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers guard Kobe Bryant drives against Raptors guard Jose Calderon in the first half Sunday in Toronto.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant drives against Raptors guard Jose Calderon in… (Nathan Denette / Associated…)

Reporting from Toronto -- These are the wild, even ridiculous, ways the Lakers have to win nowadays.

A controversial five-second violation by Toronto with 4.2 seconds left. An airballed three-point attempt by the Raptors as time expires.

The Lakers lost an 18-point lead Sunday but survived the Raptors, 94-92, at Air Canada Centre.

It looked as if another point guard would shred the Lakers until Kobe Bryant drilled a 17-foot fadeaway from the right side with 4.2 seconds left to play, giving the Lakers the lead for good at 93-92.

A couple of minutes earlier, Bryant had walked away from the huddle during a timeout and sat by himself near midcourt on the padded part of the scorer's table.

It was a strange sight. The Lakers trailed by four at the time, having lost what was once a 29-11 lead in a big way because of Raptors guard Jose Calderon, who finished with a career-high 30 points and six assists.

Bryant would later say he was relaxing, just "cooling." All the meditative processes in the world couldn't have calmed the Raptors after Bryant's shot.

Rasual Butler entered the game for the first time after a Toronto timeout and held the ball for more than five seconds as he tried to find a teammate. None was open. Violation.

Raptors Coach Dwane Casey said he tried to call a timeout when it became apparent Butler was in trouble. The Raptors will submit the call to the league office for review.

"I didn't go to college, but I know how to count," Bryant said. "That's five seconds. Good defense on our part."

The chances of a favorable appeal by Toronto were almost nonexistent, mainly because the Raptors had a chance to win it after Bryant made only one of two free throws at the other end.

The Raptors successfully inbounded the ball from the same spot with 3.7 seconds left, but DeMar DeRozan's three-point attempt didn't draw iron as time expired.

Bryant finished with 27 points on rough nine-for-23 shooting as the Lakers (16-12) completed their Grammy trip with a 3-3 record, which Bryant correctly assessed as "average."

They are now 5-10 on the road.

"That's what we need to turn around," Bryant said. "If we can figure out how to win games on the road, our record would be much, much better."

Pau Gasol had 16 points and 17 rebounds. Metta World Peace was something of a factor, successfully defending DeRozan on the Raptors' last-second attempt. He also converted a fastbreak layup on a pass from Bryant after Bryant poked the ball away from Linas Kleiza with 35.8 seconds left.

The layup was more difficult than it should have been because World Peace hit the rim with his hand, the ball sliding awkwardly through the hoop.

"I almost missed the layup," he said. "I was like, 'Oh my goodness, I should have dunked it.'"

Bryant didn't care.

"It gives him a good boost," he said. "It shows him in those situations that I have confidence in him. He was playing extremely well for us and it's important to reward your teammates in certain situations when you can."

Calderon was the clear catalyst for the Raptors (9-20), who played without leading scorer Andrea Bargnani (strained left calf). The center is averaging 23.5 points.

The trip was over. A .500 record on it for a team slightly over .500.

Perhaps Gasol said it best.

"It could have been better," he said. "It could have been worse."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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