The Toronto Raptors knew they had to stop Kobe Bryant. They just didn’t know how to do that.
Not that’s a surprise. The Lakers’ 118-116 overtime victory Friday over the Toronto Raptors featured Bryant posting 42 points on plenty of plays where they couldn’t stop his greatness. Bryant made three consecutive three-pointers in one stretch. He made stepback jumpers. Bryant drove to the rim. But the play that topped it all involved Bryant’s two-handed slam that gave the Lakers a 117-115 lead with 10.6 seconds remaining.
The play all started with Raptors forward Aaron Gray rushing to the top of the key to help Alan Anderson double on Bryant. Bad move.
“I saw him coming, and I just had to kind of decoy it a little bit and kind of wait for him to get his top foot and get close enough to me to where I can go around him,” Bryant said. “When that happens, it kind of becomes a screen for my defender. He doesn’t have the speed to really do anything, so I just went around him and he winded up screening my man.”
Bryant found a huge opening into the lane. He charged through with full force. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry cut into the lane, but it looked they didn’t want to end up in a poster and leave their man. Rudy Gay tried flooding the paint, but well Dwight Howard literally pulled on his jersey.
“I knew my man was going to come trap and Kobe was going to get around him,” Howard said. “Rudy was afraid to leave me for the lob. We got the easy dunk.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org