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Bryant carries Lakers past lowly Raptors

Nov 18, 2006 - 6:28 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant reached another milestone against the struggling Toronto Raptors.

Bryant scored 31 points and pulled down a season-high 11 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers held on for a 107-100 victory over the Raptors, who dropped their fourth straight game.

The 6-6 superstar became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 17,000 career points. At 28 years old and 86 days, Bryant eclipsed the milestone faster than Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and former teammate Shaquille O'Neal.

"17,000 is a nice number," Bryant said. "I don't know if that is a special occasion."

Bryant connected on 10-of-19 shots from the field and made 11-of-12 free throws. He also handed out seven assists as the Lakers improved to 4-1 at home this season.

"I am starting to get some of that explosion (back)," said Bryant, who is still recovering from offseason knee surgery. "In the second half going to the basket, I had the explosion. I just didn't trust it. I was mad at myself because I should have dunked it."

The last time Bryant took the court against the Raptors, he scored an eye-popping 81 points - the second most in league history - on 28-of-46 shots to help the Lakers rally for a 122-104 triumph on January 22.

Bryant scored on a flashy lefthanded fade-away and Kwame Brown split a pair of free throws with 1:21 remaining for a 102-98 advantage.

A jumper by Toronto's Jorge Garbajosa cut the deficit to 103-100 with 22 seconds to go, but Bryant made all four of his foul shots in the waning moments to seal the victory.

"I think we played a good game (Friday)," Bryant said. "I think it was a balanced effort and a balanced game on my part as far as scoring the ball and getting everyone involved. We didn't execute the way we wanted to, but at this point it is about getting the W."

"We survived. I thought we had a lethargic second half where Toronto played well enough, but our offense stalled so many times," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "Turnovers created situations where they could get back in the ballgame and we had to find a way to win, which was good for us."

Luke Walton scored 12 points and Smush Parker added 11 for Los Angeles, which shot 54 percent (40-of-73) and scored 58 points in the paint.

Chris Bosh and Morris Peterson scored 20 points apiece and T.J. Ford chipped in 13 for the Raptors, who shot 45 percent (38-of-83) and recorded 10 steals.

"We have to get off to a better start. We have to play more intensely," Peterson said. "We didn't do that (Friday). Against a team like the Lakers, we have to put them away. We are worrying about our offense and our defense is suffering."

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