The Toronto Raptors were sick of going to overtime.
In their last two games, the Raptors came up just short in OT against the Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers. On Sunday, it appeared they were headed for the same fate, as the Los Angeles Lakers began to make a fierce comeback late in the fourth quarter.
But thanks to a few timely stops and some good enough free-throw shooting, Dwane Casey's squad was able to hold on for the 108-103 win.
It appeared at first that the Raps were going to end their four-game losing streak with ease.
After Alan Anderson scored following a Kyle Lowry steal, the home squad took a commanding 95-76 lead with just eight minutes left.
But the Lakers weren't ready to fold.
Kobe Bryant suddenly turned into a microwave, hitting three threes in the next few minutes, while Steve Nash and Earl Clark also knocked shots down from the outside.
L.A. was able to cut the deficit to six with a minute-and-a-half remaining, but the Raptors weathered the storm down the stretch to improve to 15-26.
With the loss, the Lakers are now 17-23.
For a complete look at the entire box score, check out NBA.com.
Pau Gasol certainly isn't the most popular human being in Los Angeles right now, but Grantland's Bill Simmons noted he would be happy to have the veteran big man:
I'd trade for Pau in 0.23 secs. Watched him tear up Team USA last August - PLAYING CENTER. That's what he is. He's not a perimeter player.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) January 20, 2013
Gasol rewarded Simmons with 25 points on just 15 field-goal attempts and five rebounds.
The Raptors had a comfortable lead with eight minutes left, but Goodwin Sports Management's Nate Jones wasn't exactly confident the contest was over:
Raptors have blown games a ton as of late. Little bit of hope for LA.— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) January 20, 2013
Jones was nearly spot on, as the Lakers made a ferocious late-game comeback, but Toronto was able to hold on.
While Kobe Bryant is unlikely to accept Los Angeles' first-half struggles, Adam Reisinger thinks the talented guard may soon lose hope:
Kobe is way too much of a competitor to give up on this Lakers team, but he has to be having Smush-like feelings about this season.— Adam Reisinger (@AdamReisinger) January 20, 2013
Any time you mention Smush Parker in the same sentence as Kobe Bryant, you know things are going badly for the Lake Show.
Nevertheless, Jones has a solution:
#DammitTime Lakers should trade everyone and wait for Stern to gift them Wiggins.— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) January 20, 2013
Ironically enough, Wiggins is Canadian.
I was trying to find a good way to sum up the game, and eternal optimist and Raptors reporter Holly MacKenzie did it perfectly:
Kobe with anther three. This game is fun.— Holly MacKenzie (@stackmack) January 20, 2013
Of course, it wasn't fun for everyone. The first response to that tweet was "NO IT ISN'T."
It's likely that most Lakers fans felt that way, as they certainly weren't expecting to be just two-and-a-half games better than the Raptors at this point in the season.
Player of the Game: Landry Fields
CBS Sports' Matt Moore noted (kind of) just how amazing Landry Fields' game was:
When Landry Fields is having success defending Kobe Bryant, you have angered the basketball gods.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 20, 2013
Fields, who has struggled immensely lately, came through with a monster performance, scoring 18 points (on 8-of-11 shooting) to go with 10 rebounds, four steals and just one turnover.
More importantly, he did a wonderful job making things tough on Bryant, who scored 26 points but needed a ridiculous 32 shots to get there. The Mamba also turned the ball over six times.
A case for this "award" could also be made for Ed Davis (18 points, eight rebounds) and Jose Calderon (22 points, nine assists), who were both crucial playmakers in this victory.