Kobe toys with Raps

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

In the list of Top 6 torchings by a Raptors opponent, you now will find Kobe Bryant's name three times.

His 46 points last night actually was the smallest offensive outburst in those three games, but it was more than enough to get the Lakers out of town with a 121-101 victory, the first loss by the Raptors on their home court in seven games.

Bryant owns the grand-daddy of these pummellings with that unforgettable 81 two years ago at the Staples Centre. He also had 48 against the Raps a little more than three years ago in L.A.

Bryant took nine shots that didn't find the mark but it was the 19 that did that had everyone from Sam Mitchell to Andrea Bargnani singing his praises.

"He was scoring all the time," Bargnani said. "The times we did stop him he found the open man. They deserved to win."

The dagger, though, came in the dying seconds of the third quarter when Bryant chased down a loose ball in the corner with the shot clock winding down. With Anthony Parker all over him, Bryant let fly with a shot that found nothing but nylon from a near impossible angle. The shot put the Lakers up by six heading into the final quarter and the Raps never recovered.

"Yes, it was a big momentum shot," Bryant said. "It was one of those shots that kind of takes the air out of the building and it was fortunate for me that it went in."

That was just one Kobe moment from the night but it seemed like all evening he was running back up the court either staring down the Raptors bench or mugging for the camera under the Raptors basket after another thundering dunk.

"You expect it," Parker said of the offence from Bryant. "You want to make him a volume shooter so he'll get his points, but he was pretty efficient (last night)."

Bryant was 19-of-28, 4-for-8 from long range and hit all four of his free throws.

The Raps did manage to get the Lakers lead -- which had been as high as 11 -- down to two with 2:41 to go in the third quarter before Los Angeles pulled away.

UNSTOPPABLE

In the end, Bryant either did it himself or drew enough attention from enough Raptors that he was able to find open teammates. And while none of them could match Bryant's marksmanship on this night, they did manage to hit eight three-pointers between them, five in the fourth quarter alone to quash any Raptors comeback hopes.

Positively dwarfed by Bryant's brilliance was a career night for Bargnani.

Bargnani had a Raptors-high and career high 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting. More importantly from Mitchell's standpoint, a lot of his points came on aggressive drives.

"The surprising thing is we have been on our guys to take the ball to the basket and Andrea drove more than anyone tonight," Mitchell said. "That's the thing Jamario (Moon) and some of our other guys have got to do."

The Lakers may have been on a high having learned they had acquired Pau Gasol earlier in the day.

The immediate impact was the loss of two bodies (Kwame Brown and Javaris Crittendon were sent to Memphis in exchange for Gasol) and a shortened bench. Bryant said that actually worked in LA's favour.

"It was kind of like we all had to bring it because we were really undermanned,' Bryant said. "We understod that this was a game we had to get and we came out with a lot of energy."

No one moreso than Bryant.

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REPLAY

TURNING POINT

With the shot clock running down, Kobe Bryant tracks down a ball that has been knocked out of his hands and not only hits the shot from the far corner, but hits nothing but net to put the Lakers back up six after the Raps had brought an 11-point lead down to two with just seconds left in the third quarter.

SMALL BUT MIGHTY

The Lakers were running short of bodies last night, but you would hardly know it by the way they played. Head coach Phil Jackson dressed 10 for the game but in actuality only had nine as Luke Walton, who is dealing with a hip problem, was one of those 10.

IS IT WORTH IT?

Anthony Parker says he would be honoured should the powers that be ask him to take part in the NBA three-point shooting contest. Parker, though, adds that having watched teammate Jason Kapono knock down 24 of 25 in practice recently may mean the competition already is decided.


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