Sliding Fast

After opening a season-high nine-game road trip in disappointing fashion, the Los Angeles Lakers continue their trek Friday in Toronto, where the Raptors have been blowing out opponents lately.

The Lakers (28-16) lost to Detroit 90-89 on Thursday, their fourth defeat in five games.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Toronto –6.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 204.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 58% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles +6.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Los Angeles trailed by as much as 17 in the first half, but managed to battle back and take a 72-67 lead heading into the final quarter. The Lakers had a chance to seal a win against the Pistons, but could not corral a key rebound before Tayshaun Prince made a game-winning 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds left.

Kobe Bryant had 39 points and 10 rebounds, but didn't get a shot on the final possession, which ended with Lamar Odom's airball.

Los Angeles lost its third straight road game after winning its previous five away from Staples Center.

"It's a tough loss because I felt like we had the game, but we made mental errors down the stretch,'' said Bryant, who also had a career-high 11 turnovers. "But I'm encouraged and if we keep playing hard like this on the trip, we'll be all right.''

A potential problem for the Lakers, however, is visiting teams haven't had any luck at the Air Canada Centre lately.

The Raptors (25-20) have won a season-high six straight home games by an average of 21.0 points since a 93-90 home loss to Cleveland on Jan. 6. They are averaging 109.7 points and shooting 51.9 percent in those games.

On Thursday at the Air Canada Centre, Toronto defeated Washington 122-83, matching the franchise's largest margin of victory.

The Raptors, who have won eight of 11, shot 56.6 percent and made 13-of-18 shots from 3-point range against the Wizards.

"More than just the 3s, it's the way we moved the basketball,'' Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. "The difference is we shot the ball much better and we rebounded better.''

Andrea Bargnani scored a game-high 19 points, connecting on 3-of-4 of his 3s. The top pick in the 2006 draft is averaging 13.8 points on 8-of-16 shooting from 3-point range in his last four games after averaging just 4.1 points and hitting only 2-of-14 shots from beyond the arc in his previous eight.

"If he continues to do that, this team is going to be a lot better,'' said Chris Bosh, who was named an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve on Thursday.

With Wednesday's outcome in little doubt, Bosh played just 20 minutes, and finished with 16 points and four rebounds. The three-time All-Star was averaging 30.8 points and 9.9 rebounds in his previous nine games.

Bosh had 49 points on 18-of-26 shooting and 21 rebounds in Toronto's two games against Los Angeles last season.

The Raptors split their season series with the Lakers in 2006-07, with each team winning at home.

Toronto defeated Los Angeles 96-92 last season at the Air Canada Centre, just its third victory in 11 home games against the Lakers.

Bryant had 56 points and 20 rebounds in the two games last season. Bryant, who was named to his 10th All-Star team last week, scored a career-high 81 points in the Lakers' 122-104 win over Toronto on Jan. 22, 2006.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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