LOS ANGELES - Maybe Amir Johnson misread the invitation.
Maybe instead of welcome back Kobe, he saw welcome back Amir.
The Los Angeles native basically hijacked Kobe Bryant’s return-to-the-NBA night, scoring a career-high 32 points as the short-handed Raptors beat the Lakers 106-94 on Sunday night. Toronto was down four players, thanks in large part to the Rudy Gay trade with the Sacramento Kings earlier in the day.
Bryant, who was returning from torn Achilles’ tendon surgery looked predictably rusty after being off for more than 7 1/2 months.
But that didn’t matter to the sellout crowd at the Staples Center that came to cheer every little thing Bryant managed on the night ... and that wasn’t a whole lot.
With the Raps holding an eight-point lead and 6:53 to go, the crowd started demanding Bryant come back in the game and Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni complied.
At the same time, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey brought his ace in the hole back in the game.