Dec 8, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers small forward Nick Young (0) drives to the basket between Toronto Raptors power forward Amir Johnson (15) and shooting guard DeMar DeRozan (10) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Raps 106 - Los Angeles Lakers 94 - Farewell, Rudy & welcome back, Amir

In a game marked by the presence of Kobe Bryant and the absence of Rudy Gay, the Toronto Raptors secured a much-needed win. The Raps have been bitterly disappointing lately due to their inability to maintain early leads, but that wasn’t the case on this night. Toronto zoomed out to a 15-4 lead, as secret weapon Amir Johnson was draining every shot he took in the Lakers’ paint. The Lakers eased back into the game, yet Terrence Ross was able to push the lead to 10 points by burying an off-the-glass 3-ball from waaaay out as the Q1 buzzer sounded.

Dec 8, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) handles the ball against Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan (10) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

[20 second timeout: I will of course be posting about the monster trade with Sacramento which ushers Rudy, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy out of town. Watch for it later today, after the deal is official, I've researched the newest Raps, and we know who's being waived for salary cap reasons.]

The Raps stayed just ahead of the Lakers, in spite of a severe wobble before intermission, as Amir continued his act. DeMar DeRozan was getting to the free throw line, and swishing fadeaway jumpers. Kobe was clearly rusty, and took on the facilitator role, making several fine passes for easy buckets by his mates. He would end the game with a mere 9 points, and was no factor.

The third quarter was a saw-off, and I’m surely the LA fans and large TV audience expected the Lakers to make short work of the Raps’ five point margin. Instead, it was Toronto which controlled the final quarter, pouring in 33 points as Kyle Lowry made several excellent driving layups. The Raps received solid games from both point guards, as Julyan Stone made all 3 shots he tried, and didn’t hurt the offensive flow. Kyle was shooting and passing with confidence, on his way to 23 points and 8 assists.

The Raps should have run away with this game, but their 3-point shooting stayed in the locker room. They were a ghastly 4 of 26, led(?) by Steve Novak’s 1 for 9 non-performance. However, DD and Amir, who enjoyed a career-high 32 points (and 10 rebounds!), were reliable all evening. Jonas Valanciunas did not have fun. Rebounds were just out of reach for him, and he was called for several of those loose-ball fouls which are the bane of his existence.

Toronto returns home to face Philadelphia on Tuesday, with their 5-game losing streak over, and some new teammates to integrate. The team is suddenly interesting again.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

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Tags: Amir Johnson DeMar DeRozan Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers Toronto Raptors

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