Nick Young and the Los Angeles Lakers got the Toronto Raptors to play it their way Sunday afternoon.
Young had 29 points while Pau Gasol added 22 to lead the short-handed Lakers to a 112-106 win at the Air Canada Centre, halting Toronto’s six-game home win streak. Los Angeles (16-25) used an attacking style to rally from deficits of 19 and 17 points and earn its second straight road victory but just its third in 15 games overall.
“We didn’t get defence into the game,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “We played their game . . . it was pretty but we didn’t get defence into the game.
“That allowed those big runs and that’s not who we are. We have to be a defence-first team, not a three-point shooting team . . . we got caught up in their quick threes, which we’re not very good at.”
The Lakers hit 12-of-22 (54.5 per cent) three-pointers but also made 26-of-28 free throws. Toronto finished 9 of 30 (30 per cent) from beyond the arc and held a 47-31 edge in rebounding but only attempted 11 free throws, making nine.
“That tells us either we’re not getting the calls or we’re not driving to the rim,” Casey said. “They were the aggressor going to the basket. We had some bonehead fouls on some three-point shots, that’s something you shouldn’t do.
“But it starts on the defensive end. We didn’t get up into people and when we did react we reacted late and subsequently you get fouls called.”
DeMar DeRozan had 23 points while Kyle Lowry added 21 for Toronto (20-19), which lost the chance for its first-ever season sweep of the Lakers. The Raptors won the first meeting 106-94 on Dec. 8.
Kyle Lowry added 21 points for Toronto while Patrick Patterson added 17 points coming off the bench.
Lowry’s three-pointer pulled Toronto to within 102-101 with just over two minutes remaining. Ryan Kelly’s three free throws made it 105-101 before Young’s three-pointer put the Lakers ahead 108-103 with 1:15 left. Young’s two free throws with 20.5 seconds made it 110-104 and effectively cemented the win.
Kelly said Young was a difference-maker for the Lakers.
“The one thing Nick does is score, especially at the end of clocks,” said Kelly, who finished with 17 points. “There are not many people in the league who can do what he does.
“We have seven seconds on the clock and you get Nick the ball and he finds a way to get a shot or get to the line . . . we need that.”
The Lakers were without all-stars Steve Nash of Victoria and Kobe Bryant. Nash, a two-time NBA MVP, is out with a back injury while Bryant, a five-time league champion and Los Angeles’s all-time scoring leader, is sidelined with a fractured left knee.
“After not feeling it in the first half, we just got a bit more aggressive on defence and they felt us,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “You have to give them credit, they hit a lot of good shots to start with but our guys somehow found the resolve to stay into them and it worked out.”
The Lakers improved to 27-8 all-time against Toronto, including 13-5 at the ACC.
“We’ve got to understand no matter now big the lead is no team is going to lay down,” DeRozan said. “They’re going to play extremely hard to try and get back and we’ve got to understand that and withstand the runs they’re trying to make. We didn’t do that.
“We gave up too many threes. We know they’re a three-point shooting team and we left them in their comfort zone and they knocked them down.”
Lowery couldn’t hide his disappointment about Toronto’s inability to twice put the Lakers away after surging into commanding double-digit leads.
“Yeah, it sucks,” he said. “They did a good job of playing the way they wanted and making us play that way also.
“They attacked us a lot more. We settled for a lot more jumpshots and we didn’t attack as much as we could’ve to get to the free-throw line as much as they did.”
L.A. took an 82-81 lead into the fourth, thanks to three Young free throws with 27.3 seconds left. Young converted a technical on Terrence Ross, then hit two-of-three from the line after being fouled by Ross on a three-point shot.
The resilient Lakers overcame a 17-point deficit to take the lead. Toronto opened the third on a 14-2 run to go ahead 73-56 but the Lakers tied it 79-79 on Manny Harris’s three-pointer with under three minutes remaining after both Kendall Marshall and Young connected from beyond the arc.
Gasol’s two free throws with 3.4 seconds remaining cut Toronto’s half-time advantage to 58-54. The Raptors surged into a commanding 50-31 lead in the quarter before being outscored by the Lakers 23-8 the rest of the way.
DeRozan was a one-man show for Toronto, scoring 12 of his 16 first-half points in the second. The Raptors were 5 of 16 (31.3 per cent) from three-point range in the half while L.A. was 6-of-10.
Toronto led 36-29 after the first, erasing a 24-20 deficit by outscoring L.A. 16-5 over the final 2:58. Patterson led the way for the Raptors with eight points, including two three-pointers as the home team hit on 14-of-19 field goals and 5-of-6 three-pointers in the quarter. Gasol played a big part in leading the Lakers to their early lead with 10 points.
NOTES — Toronto is off to Charlotte for a game Monday afternoon against the Bobcats on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the U.S. while Los Angeles continues a seven-game road trip in Chicago on Tuesday night . . . Toronto’s 94-89 home win over Minnesota on Friday night was its 20th victory in 38 games this year, the fastest the Raptors have reached 20 wins since 2007-’08 when they did so in 37 games . . . Toronto forward Tyler Hansbrough (ankle) missed his ninth straight game while forward John Salmons, who reportedly suffered a back injury against Minnesota, didn’t dress . . . Lakers centre Robert Sacre is a native of Baton Rouge, La., but grew up in B.C. and has dual Canadian-American citizenship.
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