Lakers more dangerous

Sam Mitchell doesn't like to be reminded of Kobe Bryant's 81 points against the Raptors two years...

Sam Mitchell doesn't like to be reminded of Kobe Bryant's 81 points against the Raptors two years ago. SUN MEDIA/Greg Henkenhaf

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- Sam Mitchell feigned ignorance.

"What are you talking about?" Mitchell asked. "I have no idea what you are talking about."

Chris Bosh sloughed it off as something that happened to this franchise but in a different era.

The topic was the 81 points Kobe Bryant put on the Raptors 26 months ago. It remains the second-greatest single point total in an NBA game.

Bosh is one of four players still with the team who was in uniform that night. Bosh, Joey Graham and Jose Calderon were on the court.

Darrick Martin dressed but did not play. Mitchell's coaching staff, with two exceptions, remains unchanged.

"It's a different era as far as our organization is concerned," Bosh said. "At first it was like (a hangover) because people won't let you forget about it, but I accepted it. I'm not in denial that happened. I was a spectator to it."

Bosh was questioned about his choice of the word "spectator." After all, he played a Raptor-high 43 minutes in the game.

Bosh clarified what he meant.

"I played, but everyone was a spectator on the court that night," Bosh said. "We didn't play any defence."

The 81 points Bryant scored are second in NBA history in one game to Wilt Chamberlain's 100, which the latter did in 1962 as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors.

The relevance of that today is that Bryant probably is in a better position to go off like that tonight than he was in January of 2006.

Although, it's unlikely any one player will enjoy that single brand of dominance again.

No matter, visiting the Staples Center is not the easiest way to tip off a five-game west coast road swing.

The Raptors are vulnerable.

They will be without Bosh, their leading scorer and rebounder, for a sixth consecutive game as he waits for his sore right knee to respond to therapy.

The Raptors have struggled to find any consistency without him, losing three of their past five. Most of the losses have been against inferior competition.

Meanwhile, Bryant will be surrounded by a much improved team from that night two seasons ago thanks primarily to the generosity of the Memphis Grizzlies, who hand-delivered Pau Gasol for what amounts to cap space.

That trade has turned the Lakers into the beasts of the west and that is not including the return of centre Andrew Bynum, who should be back by the time the playoffs roll around and make the Lakers that much better.

"They're just more dangerous," Mitchell said of the Lakers with Gasol.

"They aren't running their stuff any different, but they don't have to. He fits what they are doing so well. He fits their triangle offence so well. It was a great trade for them. Kobe is excited. He's playing excited and it's going to be a challenge for us."

So are we looking at another Kobe one-man show, the kind that had Nike busting out their Kobe 81 hoodies two seasons ago? Probably not.

The Raptors' improved defence would not appear to be susceptible to that kind of spanking at this stage in their development, but in a season in which they can beat San Antonio and New Orleans on the road, and lose to Indiana at home and Charlotte anywhere, one has to respect the unexpected.

Or looking at it another way, maybe Kobe becomes a non-factor in a Raptors win. Just two nights ago, the Sacramento Kings proved that is possible.


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