Published January 13, 2015
It's one thing to lose to the defending champion Miami Heat, but a loss against the Toronto Raptors is no excuse for a Los Angeles Lakers team trying to alter the course of its season.
The schedule ahead doesn't get any easier for the Lakers, who have lost five in a row on the road and will resume a three-game trek Monday against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.
Los Angeles, which dropped a 99-90 decision versus Miami last Thursday, is coming off Sunday's 108-103 setback to the Raptors at Air Canada Centre. Kobe Bryant paced Los Angeles with 26 points on 10-of-32 shooting and Pau Gasol finished with 25 in his second game back from a concussion.
Dwight Howard had five points, two rebounds and one assist before getting ejected in the second quarter for receiving his second technical foul.
"We were down, but we fought back and tried to make it close," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Right now on offense the ball seems to be sticking and defensively we're having our ups and downs."
Steve Nash scored 16 points and Earl Clark had 14 points and 14 rebounds.
The Lakers fell to 5-13 on the road this season and are just 2-8 in their last 10 games overall. They will close out the road swing Wednesday at Memphis, another Western Conference powerhouse.
L.A. lost nine in a row on the road back in the 2004-05 season and five straight as the guest from March 4-15, 2007.
Chicago aims to rebound Monday after dropping an 85-82 overtime decision versus the Grizzlies on Saturday, one day after disposing of the Boston Celtics on the road in OT.
Jimmy Butler had a career-high 18 points and started in place of injured forward Luol Deng, who is nursing a hamstring injury suffered in Boston and is questionable Monday. Carlos Boozer finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Bulls, who had won three in a row and seven of nine.
"I feel like we played hard the last quarter, but it wasn't enough," said Butler, whose previous career high was 13 points.
The Bulls, who have played three straight overtime games (2-1) for the first time in team history, opened their homestand on the wrong foot and will also host Detroit and Golden State. They are 11-11 at the United Center.
Chicago is one of the more defensive-minded teams in the NBA, allowing 91.7 ppg, which is third in the league.
The Bulls won the lone meeting with the Lakers last season, posting an 88-87 triumph on Christmas Day. Los Angeles has still won nine of the past 12 matchups in this series. In 20 career games against the Lakers, Boozer is averaging 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds.
In 27 career games (23 starts) against Chicago, Bryant is averaging 24.8 ppg.