Toronto At L.A. Lakers
When: 9:30 PM
ET, Sunday, December 8, 2013
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Kobe Bryant makes his return from a torn Achilles’ tendon when the Los Angeles Lakers host the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. Bryant returns nearly eight months after his serious injury and coach Mike D’Antoni is charged with managing the 35-year-old’s minutes. “He’s totally well and ready to go,” D’Antoni said after Saturday’s practice. “I think he’ll be limited by his wind and ability to take the pounding. So I would be surprised if more than in the 20s. It shouldn’t be any more than that.”
Toronto has lost five straight games and the contest in Los Angeles is the finale of three-game road excursion. Forward Tyler Hansbrough will likely miss the game after suffering a shoulder injury in Friday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers have won six of their last eight games after a slow start. The hope is that the chemistry developed without Bryant will continue with the star guard back in the fold.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, NBATV, TSN2 (Toronto), TWC SportsNet (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (6-12): Point guard Kyle Lowry can’t be faulted for Toronto’s recent woes as he is averaging 19.4 points and seven assists during the skid. Lowry has scored 20 or more points three times during the stretch and had 21 in the loss to the Suns in a contest in which the Raptors were outrebounded 53-36 and allowed Phoenix to grab 18 offensive boards. “When you give them 18 more bullets, you can’t win in this league,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said afterward. “That’s the area that was a strength of ours – rebounding – and now it’s one of our weaknesses. Somewhere, somehow, we’ve got to get that back.”
ABOUT THE LAKERS (10-9): Jodie Meeks played well in Bryant’s absence – averaging 13.5 points after Friday’s 19-point outing against Sacramento – but moves back into a supporting role. Meeks is far from the only player in a balanced scoring group who will see a role adjustment with Bryant back on the court. “He’s a big piece,” D’Antoni said of Bryant. “You throw that boulder in the water and there will be some serious ripples. Adding a big piece like this, everybody has to adjust a little bit.”
1. Toronto has lost 10 straight road games against the Lakers dating back to a victory on Dec. 28, 2001.
2. Raptors G DeMar DeRozan needs five points to become the sixth player in franchise history with 5,000 career points.
3. D’Antoni said 7-footer Robert Sacre will make his second straight start after averaging 11.5 points over the past two games.
PREDICTION: Lakers 106, Raptors 97
Stats and Records
L.A. Lakers Off vs
101.3 Points For
98.7 Points Against