for this game

Bryant pushes Lakers past Raptors

Feb 5, 2009 - 5:00 AM TORONTO (Ticker) -- It was not a record setting performance, but another solid effort by Kobe Bryant lifted the Los Angeles Lakers to victory yet again.

Two nights after setting a Madison Square Garden scoring record, Bryant recorded 36 points, nine rebounds and five assists to lift the Lakers to a 115-107 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.

Pau Gasol registered a double-double with 31 points and 15 rebounds and Los Angeles committed only five turnovers to overcome a game Toronto squad. The Lakers trailed for much of the contest but used a 16-6 run late in the fourth to hand the Raptors their fourth straight loss.

"We usually have a tough game here," Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said. "We were prepared for this type of a game here. They had an outstanding performance from Graham, and Jermaine with nine blocks, which is pretty remarkable in itself. We had to fuss to get that game."

Joey Graham scored a career-high 24 points to lead Toronto and Jermaine O'Neal fell one rebound and one block shy of a triple-double, scoring 22 points while collecting nine boards and a season-high nine rejections.

"It's like Christmas without the presents," O'Neal said of his near triple-double. "Individual stats are good for writing, but as an athlete I'd probably feel better if I scored 10 points and grabbed two rebounds and the team won."

Following Monday's MSG-record 61 points against the Knicks, Bryant carried the Lakers down the stretch in this one, scoring 10 points in the final 6:30. He put Los Angeles ahead for good, 95-94, on a jumper with 6:27 left. Sasha Vujacic followed with a 3-pointer to build the lead to four.

"Kobe was effective and got it done when we needed it at the end," Gasol said. "He knows when to make the extra pass and when to take the extra responsibility of shooting and he's done that all year long for us."

O'Neal's jumper cut it to 102-100 at the 4:17 mark, but Bryant responded with a pair of pull-ups and Los Angeles iced the game from the line in the final minute, going 6-of-6 from the free-throw line to win its fourth straight.

Toronto hung around despite missing point guard Jose Calderon, who sat out the game while nursing a sore right hamstring that caused him to miss time last month.

Calderon's replacement at the point, Anthony Parker, capped a 13-2 run with a four-point play as Toronto opened up a 21-9 edge 5:47 into the first period. But Bryant sank three from long range and Derek Fisher added a 3-pointer as the Lakes cut the deficit to six, 31-25, after the first.

"We were out of sync right off the bat, from the tip, where we made a violation which cost us a couple of possessions, to getting in foul trouble immediately and putting them on the line early in the game," Jackson said.

Bryant scored 14 in the first quarter to keep Los Angeles close.

With Andrew Bynum sidelined because of a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee, the Lakers had trouble dealing with a trio of Raptors inside.

O'Neal, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani combined to score 40 points and grab 17 boards in the opening 24 minutes for Toronto, which held a 63-58 lead at halftime.

"We miss his size," Bryant said. "Offensively we had guys who stepped up to make contributions, but defensively is where we are going to have to make some adjustments in terms of how we play. We're still trying to find our rhythm without Andrew."

The Lakers head to Boston on Thursday to take on the Celtics for the first time since losing in Game Six of the NBA Finals.

"I remember the last game we played there and it's not a good memory to have," Gasol said. "Hopefully we can change that tomorrow by being really aggressive and accepting the challenge and get a win."

Bosh left the game early in the fourth quarter with a sprained right knee and is listed as day-to-day.