for this game

Bryant shines as Lakers rout Raptors

Feb 2, 2008 - 4:47 AM By Brian Herman PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

TORONTO (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers were playing like an inspired team.

Bryant collected 46 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Lakers defeated the Toronto Raptors, 121-101, at the Air Canada Centre on Friday night.

"He's the best ballplayer in the league," said Los Angeles forward Lamar Odom, who finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. "He can make so many things happen and can hit shots from anywhere."

It was a busy day for the Lakers, who acquired former All-Star center Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies earlier Friday.

Los Angeles sent center Kwame Brown, rookie guard Javaris Crittenton, guard Aaron McKie and first-round picks in 2008 and 2010 to Memphis for Gasol.

The Grizzlies also received the draft rights to Marc Gasol, Pau's younger brother, while Los Angeles got back a second-round pick in 2010.

Pau Gasol is on his way to Los Angeles where he must pass a team physical before he can join the team.

"Obviously, we have a lot more talent now," Bryant said. "We have great length, rebounding and versatility. Now, it is just time to put the work in and work on our chemistry, work on our execution and see what we can do."

In Friday's contest, Bryant led the way for the Lakers, putting on an MVP-type performance.

He set the tone early by scoring 10 points in the first quarter and adding 11 in the second as the Lakers led by five at the half while shooting 54 percent from the field.

"You know I just continue to read the defense," Bryant said. "I have gotten off to fast starts and teams kind of double- or triple-team me and then you have to get other guys involved. I was trying to be aggressive all night."

The Raptors were able to stay within three for most of the half thanks to Andrea Bargnani's 17 first-half points while Chris Bosh chipped in with 11.

The Lakers were able to stretch the lead going into the break as Sasha Vujacic nailed a 3-pointer with 9.5 seconds to go on a pass by a driving Bryant.

"We made a special effort to get our bench involved after playing (Thursday) and Sasha really played well," Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said.

Los Angeles continued to apply pressure as it opened the third quarter on a 7-2 run and pushed its lead to 63-53 on Bryant's 3-pointer at 10:57.

The Lakers were able to push the lead to 11 on Derek Fisher's shot from the arc that made it 77-66 at 5:03.

The Raptors answered with a 9-0 run to bring themselves within two points on free throws by Bosh to make it 77-75 with 2:41 left in the third.

Bryant once again answered the call by hitting a clutch fadeaway 3-pointer from the right corner at the end of the shot clock with 11.4 seconds left in the third to help the Lakers enter the final quarter with 83-77 advantage.

"It was a big momentum shot," Bryant said. "It was one of those shots that kind of takes the air out of the building and it was fortunate for me that it went in."

Los Angeles was able to put the game away midway through the fourth as Bryant connected on the first of three successive Lakers' 3-pointers as part of an 11-2 run to stretch their lead to 104-89.

"He's (Kobe) a great player," Bosh said. "When he gets hot, he can get it going. He is the best 1-on-1 player in the league - hands down. He knocked a couple of threes down and, when we helped, he wasn't selfish with the ball."

Bargnani finished with a career-high 28 points and Bosh finished with 22 and 15 rebounds for his 21st double-double of the season for the Raptors.

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