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           === Lakers set to host Raptors, try to move above .500 ===
 (Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Lakers are back home, back to .500 and will
 continue  their push to  try and make the playoffs Friday night when they host
 the Toronto Raptors.
 The  Lakers suffered a 122-105 loss in Oklahoma City Tuesday night, but evened
 their  record  on Wednesday with  a 108-102 road  victory over the New Orleans
 Down  18 to start the final frame, Kobe Bryant and Jodie Meeks combined for 30
 points  in the  fourth to  stun  the Hornets.  Bryant, who  injured his  elbow
 against  the Thunder, had  42 points and 18 came in the fourth when the Lakers
 outscored the Hornets, 33-9.
 "It's  about  who is going to  stick together and  who is not going to break,"
 said  Bryant, who also had 12 assists in the victory. "Even though we played a
 team  that doesn't have the best record in the world, I think this type of win
 really (helps) our bond."
 Meeks  contributed  19 off  the bench  and Dwight Howard  enjoyed a great all-
 around  game with  20 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks and three steals. Metta
 World Peace added 11 points.
 The  Lakers  trail the  Utah Jazz by  1 1/2  games for that  final spot in the
 Western Conference playoff race.
 L.A.  will play the  Chicago Bulls at home on Sunday, then head east for three
 The  Raptors stopped  a  five-game losing  streak on  Wednesday  with a  98-71
 drubbing  of the  Phoenix Suns. Friday's game with the Lakers ends a four-game
 western trip and the Raptors are 1-2 after Wednesday's huge win.
 "I  thought it  was one of our  most focused efforts of the year defensively,"
 Raptors  coach Dwayne Casey  said. "Everyone that went into the game had a big
 time effort, a good defensive focus, and I thought they stayed to the task."
 The  bench did  most of the damage  for the Raptors on Wednesday. Amir Johnson
 had 14, Sebastian Telfair netted 13 and Alan Anderson and Terrance Ross had 10
 apiece. The reserves, who saw a lot of minutes with Toronto up big, tallied 54
 The  starters  only managed  44 points,  but only  one starter, DeMar DeRozan,
 played over 24 minutes. DeRozan chipped in 15 and Jonas Valanciunas scored 10.
 Rudy Gay (5), Andrea Bargnani (9) and Kyle Lowry (5) all had off nights.
 The  Raptors beat  the Lakers this season  in Toronto, but have lost nine in a
 row on the road in this series.
 03/08 10:51:43 ET