Bryant, Gasol lead Lakers past Raptors


TORONTO, December 20 – Kobe Bryant scored 20 points and Spanish star Pau Gasol added 19 to spark the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers past Toronto 120-110 on Sunday for their fifth triumph in a row.Andrew Bynum added 16 points and Shannon Brown contributed 14 for the Lakers, who completed a seven-game road trip with six triumphs and improved to 21-7 overall, including a league-best 11-5 in road games.

Bynum, coming off the bench in his fourth appearance after being sidelined by right knee surgery, led 57 points from Laker reserves.

"I’m very pleased with the bench," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "They bailed out the starters in a significant amount of minutes."

Bryant, who sprained his right pinky against Philadelphia in a victory two days earlier, was also pleased to relax more on the bench at the end of a long road swing while backups saw more time.

"They have been solid this entire trip," Bryant said. "They came in and gave us a big boost."

Lithuanian playmaker Linas Kleiza scored a game-high 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Demar DeRozan added 23 points and Spaniard Jose Calderon had 20 points and 12 assists for the Raptors, who fell to 10-18.

The Raptors, losers of seven of their past eight games against the Lakers, were without Italian center Andrea Bargnani, their leading scorer.

Bargnani was sidelined by a sore right ankle after having missed a loss to Chicago last Wednesday with left knee pain.

"His ankle is compensating for his knee," Raptors coach Jay Triano said. "He has been limping around because of the pain in his knee and it’s caused irritation in his ankle."

Toronto went only 3-of-18 from the field in the second quarter as the Lakers seized a 57-49 half-time lead.

DeRozan scored 19 points in the third quarter but the Lakers led 86-79 to start the fourth quarter and went on a 13-7 run. Toronto never closed within six again.