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Lakers look sleepy in 108-103 loss to Raptors

Playing an early game in Toronto, the Lakers fall behind by 16 points in the first quarter. Dwight Howard is ejected for getting two technicals and Kobe Bryant misses 22 of 32 shots.

January 20, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan

TORONTO — Yawn. The Lakers' snoozer of a season continued Sunday.

The Lakers faced a different challenge, a game starting at 10 a.m. Pacific time, and predictably failed, bleary-eyed and bumbling in a 108-103 loss to the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre.

Dwight Howard was ejected before halftime, Kobe Bryant couldn't find the basket and the Lakers' defense was porous as usual.

It got worse when Bryant said he had dead legs. More ice baths were needed, he said, after the Lakers fell to 17-23.

"I've just got to rest my legs, man. My shot's just short," he said after scoring 26 points on dreadful 10-for-32 shooting. "That's on me. I'll take this loss on me, gladly. There's a lot of easy shots, a lot of them, that I should put down. And I will."

Bryant will have barely 24 hours to rest. The Lakers continue a three-game trip Monday in Chicago. Maybe Howard will finish that game after being tossed for a second time in four weeks.

He picked up a technical foul in the first quarter after arguing a non-call. Then he and Alan Anderson were each hit with a technical as they headed downcourt with 1 minute 18 seconds left in the second quarter.

Anderson appeared to be the aggressor, snarling at Howard while making contact with him, and the referees conferred for almost a minute to make sure they knew what they had just done. The decision stood. Howard stalked to the locker room, angrily.

He had never been ejected before his Dec. 26 dismissal for committing a flagrant foul on Denver forward Kenneth Faried. Now it's happening monthly.

"I don't want to talk about it, boss," said Howard, who eventually talked about it. "I didn't do anything to get ejected. [Anderson] pulled me. They called a double tech."

Howard, who had five points and two rebounds in 17 minutes, added, "We'll be fine. We'll get the game [Monday]."

The Lakers are now 5-13 on the road after failing to land any blows on their perennial punching bag, ruining a 25-6 record against the Raptors that included an 8-1 run since 2008.

The Lakers arrived at the arena 90 minutes before tip-off, at 8:30 a.m. L.A. time. They trailed by 16 in the first quarter.

Sleepy? Metta World Peace looked like it. He forgot he was supposed to reenter after a second-quarter timeout. He quickly threw off his sweats and sheepishly stepped onto the court.

Pau Gasol had 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting but didn't play great when it counted.

With the Lakers down seven and trying to make a comeback, Gasol's left-handed hook shot hit the side of the backboard with 2:03 to play. Then with the Lakers down six, Gasol failed to box out Amir Johnson, who rebounded Anderson's miss and scored on a layup with 1:02 to play.

Bryant, though, was supportive.

"We saw a steady diet of Pau in the post tonight, which I'm very, very happy about," he said. "We got a lot of easy things from him down there. We'll start seeing that more often."

Gasol wasn't so sure.

"We'll see what happens. Every game is a little different," said Gasol, a starter Sunday after coming off the bench Thursday against Miami. "I wish I had the answer and the certainty that things would happen a certain way, but I don't. We're searching, right?

"It's going to be a little more challenging when me and Dwight are on the court together, but I think if we can figure it out, it'll benefit everyone. And that's hopefully the point we'll reach sooner or later."

Bryant has been remarkably calm this season. He even said Sunday that all the blame should go his way from now on, claiming that unfavorable media coverage "creates a division."

"Everybody wants to know, 'What's the reason?' And whose fault it is, and this, that and the other. I'll just make it a little easier. Just point the finger at me. Let me take all that. This way, we don't have to worry about that as a team. I'll take the arrows … and we can try to figure out how to get out of this ditch."

What if Bryant helped create that ditch? His defensive assignment for most of the game Sunday, point guard Jose Calderon, had 22 points and nine assists for the Raptors (15-26), who shot 54.8%.

Almost every Lakers player was poor defensively. After Anderson blew past Gasol for a fourth-quarter layup, the 7-footer frowned, looked around and said, "Who's helping me?"

Of greater importance, will anybody help the Lakers. Anybody?

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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