Gasol guides Lakers past RaptorsDec 1, 2008 - 6:23 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Even Hollywood might be hard-pressed to script a better first month of the season for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Pau Gasol finished with 24 points and nine rebounds and the Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors, 112-99, on Sunday to improve their record to an NBA-best 14-1.
"We expect to win every night," Gasol said. "That's how good of a team we are and that's how good of a team we want to be, and have to be.
"We have great expectations and great ambitions."
So far, those expectations have been met for a squad that suffered its lone defeat in November at the hands of the Detroit Pistons, 106-95, and also closed out month with a 5-0 road record.
"We're just playing well, playing in rhythm," Kobe Bryant said. "We understand each other, we've been together a while. Everybody was hungry to get back and get to work."
Bryant scored 21 of his 23 points in the first half and added a season-high seven assists as Los Angeles pulled away early in the final quarter. Nursing an injured right foot, Andrew Bynum had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The Lakers moved within two wins of matching their best start in franchise history, set when they went 16-1 to open the 2001-02 campaign.
Still, Lakers coach Phil Jackson is trying to keep his players from becoming complacent with their early success.
"It's human nature to get lackadaisical and for us to believe that things are going to go right for us because they have in the past," Jackson said. "But we are only successful in the moment and you have to prove it again and again, especially in sports."
Bryant missed out on becoming the youngest player to reach 22,000 career points at 30 years, 99 days of age, finishing 15 points shy of the feat. Wilt Chamberlain currently holds the record, achieving it in 30 years, 100 days.
"To be honest with you, I don't follow anything of that sort," Bryant said. "I just go out there and do what I do."
Anthony Parker finished with 19 points as six players scored in double-figures for the Raptors, who dropped their seventh in a row on the road against the Lakers. Their last victory against the Lakers at Staples Center came on December 28, 2001.
"I thought every time they made a run on us, we always responded and gathered back and it seemed like we were right there," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "We showed a level of toughness, we kind of responded and started hitting back a little bit, but we got beat by a good basketball team."
Chris Bosh, who was averaging 33.8 points in his last four outings for Toronto, was held to 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting due in large part to the presence of Bynum and Gasol in the middle.
"They play good defense," Bosh said. "With a lot of success comes a lot of responsibilities. I know that good teams are not going to let me get off offensively.
"(The Lakers) did a good job trapping, and their rotations were really good."
An early double-digit lead for Los Angeles was cut to 90-84 on a layup by Roko Ukic early in the fourth, before the Lakers gained some separation -- while doing it in style.
Bynum threw down a pair of vicious dunks and Trevor Ariza added a slam off a no-look pass from Lamar Odom, drawing a thunderous roar from the crowd. The 11-2 burst helped balloon the lead to 107-88 with 5:50 to go.
Bryant and Gasol both sat out much the final quarter as Phil Jackson was afforded the luxury of emptying his bench and resting the starters.
LA LAKERS 112 FINAL
Nov 30 11:48 PM
LA LAKERS 90 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 30 11:19 PM
LA LAKERS 61 HALFTIME
Nov 30 10:36 PM
LA LAKERS 34 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 30 10:06 PM
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