The Los Angeles Lakers begin a three-game trip east on Sunday afternoon when they visit the Air Canada Centre to take on the Toronto Raptors.
The Lakers will try to get back into the win column after a Thursday night primetime loss at home to the defending champion Miami Heat. L.A. had won two in a row before LeBron James and company dispatched the Lakers, 99-90.
Kobe Bryant, as always, led the Lakers with 22 points. Metta World Peace was second with 16 points, followed by a double-double from Dwight Howard (12 points and 16 rebounds).
Pau Gasol returned from concussion symptoms Thursday night and came off the bench with 12 points.
Obviously, this season has been a disappointment, but a good spot to begin improvement would be on the road. The Lakers are 5-12 away from the Staples Center, which is the third fewest road victories in the Western Conference.
"We're 5-12 because we played awful," admitted head coach Mike D'Antoni. "I don't think they care where they play. They shouldn't. Sometimes it's even easier to find yourself on the road and come together as a team. We have to look at it that way. We'll be ready."
The Raptors will try to halt a four-game losing streak, but this stop at home will be a brief one. Toronto will embark on a two-game jaunt to Florida to face the Heat and Orlando Magic. The Raptors won't travel far for a while as they don't leave the eastern time zone until March.
The Raptors really let one get away on Friday night in Philadelphia against the 76ers. Toronto built a 19-point lead in the third quarter, then lost the third quarter by 16. Toronto reclaimed a double-digit lead in the fourth, but Jrue Holiday took over down the stretch, scoring a layup to send the game into overtime, then scoring all 12 Sixers points in the extra session.
In the end, Philly prevailed 108-101.
"In the NBA, it's hard to play with a lead," guard Kyle Lowry said. "Everyone always says that. But when you want to become an elite team and that team wants to win and make the playoffs, you don't have an ease mode. You have to go hard and try to win every game and keep it going."
Ed Davis, Alan Anderson and Terrance Ross paced the Raptors with 18 points apiece. Jose Calderon scored 13, but didn't play much in the second half due to his inability to keep Holiday in front of him. Lowry chipped in 11.
The Raptors shot 44 percent from long distance, including a 4-for-5 performance from Ross. Unfortunately, they committed 18 turnovers. which led to 16 Sixers points.
The Lakers have won four straight in this series and 11 of their last 14 in Toronto.