Toronto Raptors beat defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, 106-105

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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TORONTO - Kobe Bryant had a chance, which is usually all he needs. This time it wasn't enough.
The Los Angeles Lakers star had the ball in his hands an instant before the horn sounded, but sent the final shot of the game off the rim, giving the Toronto Raptors and unlikely and dramatic 106-105 win over the defending NBA champions.
It was only the sixth time the Raptors have beaten the league's most glamourous franchise. Bryant finished with a game-high 27 points, and one assist shy of his first triple-double of the season, but sent the Air Canada Centre into rapture with his missed shot.
Hedo Turkoglu had hit a pair of free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining to give the Raptors (23-22) the win. The Lakers (33-11) did not trail until there were about seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers had opened their season-high eight-game road trip with a loss in Cleveland on Thursday, a 93-87 defeat that left Bryant steaming. As questions of toughness, desire and hunger swirled around the defending champions, Bryant told reporters: "They know I'm pissed off ... I don't need to say anything right now."
Los Angeles rebounded with a win against the middling New York Knicks the next night, but left Manhattan without answering many of the questions about their level of focus - primarily because they left without one of their veteran players.
Centre Andrew Bynum missed the team flight to Toronto on Saturday. His luggage made the trip, but he did not, after falling back to sleep after placing his bags outside the hotel room door for pickup.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said on Sunday that Bynum would be fined, though reportedly only about US$250, which is roughly the cost of what Bynum paid in airfare to catch up with his teammates.
After the opening tip in Toronto, though, it was the Raptors who had to start playing catch-up.
Los Angeles never trailed in the first half. Aided by a slow Toronto start, in which the Raptors hit only three of their first 12 attempts from the field, the Lakers built a lead of up to nine. Bynum, well-rested and in uniform, contributed 15 points as the Lakers held a 56-54 lead heading into halftime.
Bryant, greeted with a smattering of boos in the pre-game introduction, had 14 points at the break. Chris Bosh had 12 points to lead the Raptors, who were basking in the glow of a significant comeback win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.
Raptors centre Andrea Bargnani, who was sidelined on Friday, returned to the lineup on Sunday. The 24-year-old overcame a sore back to give the Air Canada Centre crowd its first thrill against the Lakers, driving through the lane for a one-handed reverse dunk in the first quarter.
He stonewalled Bynum at the other end a few minutes later, leading to another quick Toronto basket. The momentum struggled to gain a foothold, with the Raptors falling behind by as many as 10 points before a late surge closed the gap to only two heading into the fourth quarter.
Toronto guard Jose Calderon missed the final minutes of the third quarter after he was cut above the right eye by contact with Los Angeles guard Derek Fisher. Calderon returned to the floor with eight minutes to play in the fourth, with two stitches in his face.
NOTES: Lakers forward Ron Artest is suffering from plantar fasciitis in both feet, and coach Phil Jackson suggested the player's shoes bear at least part of the blame. "I've called his shoes concrete boots for about the last month," Jackson said with a smile on Sunday ... Toronto will not host Los Angeles in the regular season again this year ... The Raptors were 0-2 against the Lakers last season, and have lost each of their last seven in Los Angeles ... Toronto FC's incoming head coach, Preki, was in attendance.

Organizations: Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors, NBA Air Canada Centre New York Knicks Andrew Bynum Milwaukee Bucks Toronto FC

Geographic location: TORONTO, Los Angeles, Cleveland Manhattan

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