Kobe Bryant will look for his first victory since being named an All-Star as the Los Angeles Lakers meet the Toronto Raptors Sunday afternoon at the Air Canada Centre.
Bryant was named to his 15th All-Star game, but the Lakers fell to the defending champion Miami Heat on Thursday, 99-90.
Los Angeles had won two straight and looked to turn a corner on what has otherwise been a disappointing season, but surrendered 39 points to LeBron James and another 27 points to Dwyane Wade.
Bryant struggled from the field, converting just eight of 25 shots for 22 points, and center Dwight Howard chipped in 13 points and 16 rebounds, while shooting 5-for-13 from the free throw line. Howard was also named an All-Star starter.
The Lakers 26th ranked defense came under fire this week, with head coach Mike D’Antoni declaring Bryant will guard every opponent’s top player, along with leading the league in scoring.
At 17-22 and 11th in the Western Conference, Los Angeles currently has an outside shot at making the playoffs, and could kickstart a winning streak against Toronto.
The Raptors have dropped four straight, including two overtime losses to Chicago and Philadelphia this week.
Forward Ed Davis netted 18 points and 10 rebounds, and guards Alan Anderson and Terrence ross came off the bench to score 18 points each, but Toronto fell to the 76ers 108-101.
In the first of three consecutive road games, Howard could take advantage of an injured Raptor front court, with centers Jonas Valanciunas and Andrea Bargnani both out for Sunday’s matchup.
Betting Odds: Los Angeles is favored by 4.5 points
Over/Under: 205 points
Prediction: Howard should dominate Toronto on the boards, and put together one of his best games as a Laker, while Bryant should control the perimeter for a Los Angeles victory.
Predicted Score: Los Angeles 105, Toronto 87
Currently covering NBA, NFL, MLB, along with Real Madrid and Barcelona, focusing on trades, controversy, and injury updates. Joined IB Times in August 2012.