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Raptors erase past failures, hang on to beat Lakers

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors shook off some disturbing trends with their 108-103 victory Sunday over the Los Angeles Lakers before a sellout crowd of

19,800 at Air Canada Centre.

They ended a four-game losing streak for starters. They also snapped a 0-20 run in games in which they had allowed 100 or more points in regulation time.

And it was their first win over the Lakers since Jan. 24, 2010. Until Sunday, they had lost four in a row to Los Angeles. The Raptors are 7-25 all-time against the Lakers.

Perhaps more important they were able to hang on to win a game after leading by as many as 19 points. That hasn't always been the case. They led the Philadelphia 76ers by 19 on Friday only to lose in overtime. Blowing big leads has been a bad habit for Toronto.

"I thought it was one of the most complete games we've had all year from top to bottom," Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. "I thought our zone was effective, even when we were mixed up, they were mixed up. Sometimes when you're confused, they're confused.

"It was a good team effort and we executed down the stretch, which we didn't do the other night."

Jose Calderon led the Raptors with 22 points and added nine assists.

Landry Fields had his second double-double of the season scoring a season-best 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Ed Davis also scored 18 for Toronto and had eight rebounds while Alan Anderson scored 14 points and had eight assists off the bench.

"I thought [Fields] did a solid job, not only offensively but running the floor and being active," Casey said.

"We really responded to the coaches telling us to keep fighting and the ball will turn our way," Fields said."

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 26 points. Pau Gasol added 25 points while Earl Clark had 14 points and 14 rebounds and Steve Nash scored 16 points with

nine assists.

"I felt we played hard," Bryant said. "We got off to a slow start but I felt like in the second we were pretty active, but they busted us on a good run that really stretched the ballgame. We tried to push but ran out of time."

The Lakers (17-23) lost center Dwight Howard with 1:18 to play in the first half for picking up his second technical foul of the game. Raptors forward Anderson picked up a technical foul, at the same time. Howard had five points and two rebounds.

"I really don't agree with that one at all," Bryant said. "What is a player supposed to do? A guy he's confronting and trying to walk back up the court. The official told me, 'well he should just walk away.' I said, which direction.

"Should he just turn and walk to the bench? He was walking down to the other end of the court to get back on offense. There is nothing he can do when a guy steps up to him and puts a forearm on his chest."

Calderon had an excellent game working against Bryant.

"He is a great all-around player and he can play great defense," Calderon said. "But maybe they aren't used to guarding so many screen and rolls. I was trying to put him in as many screen and rolls as possible to get him out of that pressure."

"We find a lot of ways to make it interesting that's for sure," Nash said. "It's frustrating obviously. I think you have to give credit to Toronto. They played well."

Toronto (15-26) led by 13 going in the fourth quarter. After Kyle Lowry hit two straight 3-pointers in the opening minutes of the fourth, Toronto's lead was 91-76. Terrence Ross and Anderson added two-points each and Toronto was up by 19 with 7:20 to play.

The Lakers came back with consecutive 3-pointers by Bryant and when Antawn Jamison added two, Toronto's lead was cut to 10. Clark hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to seven with 3:30 to play.

Bryant hit a 3-pointer with 1:35 to play to reduce Toronto's lead to six points. But Amir Johnson's layup with 1:02 to play put the Raptors up, 105-97.

Johnson had nine points and eight rebounds.

After leading by as many as 16 points in the first quarter, the Raptors led by four points entering the second half. DeMar DeRozan's driving layup with 4:44 to play in the third quarter bumped Toronto's advantage to nine points, which reached 11 with 2:40 left in the quarter after Davis hit a jump hook shot. He was fouled on the play but missed his free throw.

Anderson hit a 3-pointer and it was 81-67 for the Raptors. Bryant came back with a jumper and a free throw but Fields finished the third-quarter scoring with a layup and Toronto led, 83-70.

The Raptors held 53-49 advantage after the first half. They started the game quickly and raced to a 25-9 lead and still were in front 29-20 after one quarter.

"We started off awful," Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We had no energy. We lose Dwight. We made some runs and got our energy up a little bit but we didn't play great.

"We have a lot of issues. Offensively, the ball sticks and we don't take very good shots and then defensively, our ups and downs and we forget guys."

Notes: The Raptors entered Sunday coming off two overtime losses, Friday to the 76ers at Philadelphia, and Wednesday at home against the Chicago Bulls. The only other times they have played back-to-back overtime games came in 2006 -- Feb. 5-8 and March 1-4. They lost those four games. The Raptors have played five overtime games this season and are 1-4. The most overtime games that they have played in a season is 11 in 2003-04. ... Toronto forward/center Andrea Bargnani (right elbow) has begun drills with a basketball for the first time since he was injured in December. ... Sunday's game was the opener of a three-game trip for the struggling Lakers who entered the game against the Raptors with a 5-12 record on the road. "The road can be a good place to find yourself," Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni said before the game. "It's a chance to build team unity." ... The Raptors next game is Wednesday when they play the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena. ... .The Lakers visit Chicago on Monday.
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