Nick Young scores 29 in return to help Lakers down Raptors
"Nick's been doing it all year and he just keeps going," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said.
Young was suspended for Friday's victory at Boston after he was ejected for throwing a punch at Phoenix's Goran Dragic in a loss last Wednesday. Rested and refreshed, Young scored 15 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers overcame a 19-point first-half deficit. They won back-to-back games for the first time since beating Memphis on Dec. 17 and Minnesota on Dec. 20.
Los Angeles held a team meeting before Friday's game to address Young's ejection, and suggestions that his teammates had not done enough to stand up for him after a hard foul by Suns center Alex Len. Young called the meeting "a turning point" in what's been a dismal season so far.
"We had an altercation that woke us all up and we're out there battling with each other now," Young said. "Now we're just laying it out there."
Ryan Kelly scored 17 in his first career start and Kendall Marshall had 10 points and 11 assists.
Kelly said Friday's meeting underscored a "lack of urgency" in both the team's response to Len's foul on Young, and the Lakers' play in general.
"That was carrying over into the game, a lack of urgency to get back on defense, a lack of urgency to rebound and things like that," Kelly said. "When we saw that on tape, that's the one thing it did for us is to make us realize that on every play, every possession, we have to have that sense of urgency."
The Lakers reached the midway point of the season with a record of 16-25.
"It's really gratifying to win back-to-back games on the road, especially with the way we've been struggling," Gasol said. "I'm just really proud of the guys. They're stepping up, they're bringing the effort, bringing the intensity, bringing the focus and not wanting to give up."
"If we keep plugging along, maybe we'll get some luck here and get some guys back," D'Antoni said.
With Bryant sidelined by a sore left knee, Kelly said Young has become the player the Lakers turn to when the shot clock is winding down.
"If we've got seven seconds on the clock, you give Nick the ball and he finds a way to get a shot or get to the line," Kelly said. "Right now, we need that. It was great to have him back on the court."
Young went 10 for 11 at the free throw line Sunday and made five 3-pointers.
D'Antoni said Kelly will start again when the Lakers visit the Bulls on Monday night.
"The guy knows how to play," D'Antoni said. "There's no substitute for smarts and he's got smarts."
"We didn't get our defensive focus into the game all afternoon," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said.
The Raptors, who won 106-94 at Los Angeles on Dec. 8, failed to record the first season sweep over the Lakers in franchise history.
"It definitely tough," DeRozan said. "We have to understand that no matter how big the lead is, no team is going to lay down."
Vasquez made a hook shot, then stole a pass from Jodie Meeks and, after a pair of misses, banked in a jumper to put the Raptors up 94-91 with 6:42 left.
Young's 3-pointer with 3:40 to go gave the Lakers a 100-96 lead, their biggest of the game to that point, causing Toronto to call timeout.
Amir Johnson later fouled Kelly on a 3-point attempt, and the rookie drained all three free throws to give Los Angeles a 105-101 lead with 1:58 remaining. Young's third 3-pointer of the fourth quarter put Los Angeles up 108-103 with 1:21 to go.
The Raptors led 50-31 with 7:33 left in the second quarter. But Wesley Johnson hit back-to-back 3-pointers as the Lakers cut the gap to 58-54 at halftime.
"We dug ourselves a big hole," D'Antoni said. "The big thing is we're playing hard, the guys are enjoying it, they're bonding together."
NOTES: Toronto was without G John Salmons (back) and F Tyler Hansbrough (left ankle). ... This was the third stop on Los Angeles' season-long seven-game road trip. After Chicago, the Lakers will visit Miami, Orlando and the New York Knicks before returning home Jan. 28 to face Indiana.