Raptors sunk by Lakers

Kobe Bryant gets some space on Julian Wright in the first half between the Toronto Raptors and the...

Kobe Bryant gets some space on Julian Wright in the first half between the Toronto Raptors and the L.A. Lakers in Toronto, December 19th, 2010. (Dave Abel/QMI Agency)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:08 PM ET

TORONTO - The Raptors had nothing to be embarrassed about on Sunday at the ACC, despite falling 120-110 to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Without leading scorer Andrea Bargnani, the Raptors surprisingly stayed with the two-time defending NBA champions all game.

The young Raptors kept things close by flooring the gas pedal as often as possible. The veteran-laden Lakers are no fans of the running game and simply could not keep up when Toronto pushed the tempo.

But speed cannot trump size in basketball and no team is bigger and badder than the Lakers.

With size advantages all over the court — especially inside with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum who combined for 35 points — the Lakers bludgeoned the Raps, outrebounding them 46-35 with a 56-44 edge in the paint as well.

“(Bynum’s) size made a difference,” legendary Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

“Bargnani is out and they just didn’t have the size to contest with us.”

The Lakers bench also went off, outscoring Toronto’s reserves 57-27.

Still, Raptors head coach Jay Triano was proud of his undermanned squad.

“It’s not effort or anything else, I thought our guys played really hard and I think for the most part they played really well,” Triano said. “I think we could have beat a lot of teams today, but not these guys.”

Superstar Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 20 points in just 28 minutes, Gasol added 19.

Bryant also had praise for the Raptors.

“They always play us really well,” Bryant said.

The Raptors surprised Hollywood’s finest by going up 34-28 after an inspired first quarter, but allowed L.A. to go on 12-3 and 11-3 runs to start the next two quarters.

“They’re just a smart team, they executed (early in quarters) but we fought back,” said Raptors point guard Jose Calderon, excellent in a 20-point, 12-assist performance despite a foot injury that caused him to limp noticeably after the game.

Triano said Calderon and Amir Johnson — who had back spasms — showed their heart by taking to the court.

“(Johnson) and Jose, it’s questionable if they should have even played, but I thought they were two of our better players,” Triano said.

The Raptors, to their credit, refused to fade away and battled back within three of the Lakers at one point in the third.

Sophomore shooting guard DeMar DeRozan was the spark for Toronto. Playing against his hometown Lakers, DeRozan went off for 19 points in the quarter and Leandro Barbosa banked in a three from half-court to cut the deficit to seven entering the fourth.

But yet another early-quarter surge by the Lakers finally sunk the Raptors. L.A. scored 13 of the final quarter’s first 20 points — without Bryant, who was rested liberally by head coach Phil Jackson after being questionable for the game with a pinkie injury.

Playing the imposing World Champs — now 24-6 all-time against Toronto — is never an easy task. Doing it without your top scorer and post threat makes it all the more difficult.

Shortly before tipoff, the team announced that Bargnani would miss the game due to an ankle injury suffered in Friday’s win over New Jersey.

Bargnani had missed Wednesday’s date with Chicago due to knee soreness before coming back with a monster performance vs. the Nets.

Small forward Sonny Weems also sat out because of back spasms that first bothered him on Friday.

Without Bargnani, the Raptors started green rookie Ed Davis and give big minutes to Joey Dorsey.

Davis struggled, while Dorsey was solid, but was dwarfed by Bynum and Gasol.

Johnson and Calderon both said with a couple of days of rest on tap, they both expect to be ready to go against Detroit on Wednesday.

The timetable for Bargnani and Weems remains up in the air.


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