Once the euphoria over the Pau Gasol trade wore off, reality set in for the Lakers. On the second night of a back-to-back, they had only nine players.
Good thing Kobe Bryant was one of them.
Bryant scored 46 points, throwing down some crowd-pleasing dunks along the way, and the Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 121-101 Friday night to finish off their big day.
``We only come here once a year,'' Bryant said. ``For some people, it's the only chance they get to see me. Sometimes it's the first time, so I want to make sure that I go out and put on a good performance.''
He sure did, but it was overshadowed by the Lakers' acquisition of Gasol, one of the world's best big men, earlier in the day. Los Angeles sent Kwame Brown, rookie Javaris Crittenton and two first-round draft picks to Memphis for Gasol, a deal that makes the Lakers one of the favorites in the Western Conference.
But it also left them short-handed, as they essentially used eight players - rookie Coby Karl played 34 seconds - a night after a 90-89 loss in Detroit.
``(The trade) gave us a little extra pop, but it was the fact that we were playing with eight guys. So it was kind of like we all have to bring it because we are really undermanned,'' Bryant said. ``We understood that this was a game that we had to get and we came out with a lot of energy.
``With that being said, I think that everybody is little bit excited for the opportunity that we have in front of ourselves.''
In other games, it was: Houston 106, Indiana 103; Orlando 108, Philadelphia 106; Utah 96, Washington 87; New Jersey 94, Miami 85; Minnesota 104, the Los Angeles Clippers 83; Sacramento 112, New Orleans 103; Portland 94, New York 88 in overtime; and Golden State 127, Charlotte 96.
Gasol will undergo a physical Saturday in Los Angeles and could make his Lakers debut Sunday at Washington. The MVP of the 2006 world championships will play center while Los Angeles is without Andrew Bynum (left knee).
``We don't want Pau to have any pressure on him when he comes in,'' said forward Lamar Odom, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds. ``We just want him to play his game any way he can. I'm pretty sure that will be easy for him.
``He's going to help us in every aspect,'' Odom added. ``There's nothing he can't do.''
Sasha Vujacic added 22 points and Jordan Farmar had 13 for the Lakers, who came in having lost four of five. But they have the potential to be one of the NBA's best teams, with a front line of Gasol, Odom and Bynum; and Bryant in the backcourt.
``They will be tough to match. It will be something once they put that all together,'' Toronto's Chris Bosh said. ``When you can put Bynum, Gasol and Odom out there, you have two shot blockers, three rebounders and then the best player in the league. So it will be very interesting to watch that come together and watch them play.''
Andrea Bargnani had a career-high 28 points to lead Toronto in scoring for the second straight game. Bosh added 22 points and 15 rebounds.
Kings 112, Hornets 103
Ron Artest scored 24 points, Kevin Martin added 22 on his 25th birthday and Sacramento handed New Orleans back-to-back losses for the first time in seven weeks.
Peja Stojakovic led the Hornets with 25 points in his first regular-season game at Arco Arena since being traded to Indiana for Artest on Jan. 25, 2006.
Magic 108, 76ers 106
Hedo Turkoglu hit two free throws with 2.4 seconds remaining and finished with 23 points, and Orlando won its third straight game overall and NBA-best 18th on the road.
Andre Miller had 23 points and 11 assists, and Lou Williams added 20 points for the Sixers.
Jazz 96, Wizards 87
Mehmet Okur had 27 points and 11 rebounds, and Utah won its seventh straight game. Deron Williams picked up his sixth-straight double-double for the visiting Jazz with 11 points and 12 assists.
Antawn Jamison scored 31 points in his first game since being selected to the All-Star team, but fellow All-Star Caron Butler missed the game with a hip injury.
Warriors 127, Bobcats 96
Monta Ellis scored 21 points, Stephen Jackson had 19 and the Warriors made Jason Richardson miserable in his return to Golden State.
Richardson had 10 points on 2-for-9 shooting in a dismal return to the arena where he became the Golden State fans' most consistent favorite during six seasons with the club. Emeka Okafor had 20 points and 18 rebounds in the Bobcats' third loss in four games.
Timberwolves 104, Clippers 83
Al Jefferson scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in three quarters, Craig Smith added 21 points, and Minnesota won for the fifth time in seven games.
The visiting Clippers were playing their third straight game without leading scorers Corey Maggette and Chris Kaman, who both were out with the flu. Sam Cassell led them with 17.
Nets 94, Heat 85
Richard Jefferson scored 25 points, Josh Boone added 15 and New Jersey snapped a seven-game road losing streak.
Dwyane Wade, who returned after missing Wednesday's loss at Orlando with the flu, finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Miami's loss, combined with Minnesota's win, gave the Timberwolves (10-36) a half-game edge over the Heat (9-36) in the race for the NBA's worst record.
Rockets 106, Pacers 103
Rookie Carl Landry scored 13 of his career-high 22 points in the fourth quarter, and Houston earned its sixth straight road victory.
Danny Granger finished with 22 points and Jeff Foster added 13 points and 17 rebounds for the Pacers, who dropped their fifth straight game.
Trail Blazers 94, Knicks 88, OT
Brandon Roy had 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his first career triple-double, a night after being picked for his first All-Star game.
Zach Randolph led the Knicks with 25 points and 13 rebounds in his first game in Portland after being traded to New York in June. New York is 0-4 on its five-game road trip that ends Saturday in Seattle.

Top NBA Public Bets

NBA Top Stories

Thumbnail Clippers vs. Jazz Pick Are the Los Angeles Clippers going to secure a seventh consecutive victory tonight at 9PM ET when they play the host Utah...
Thumbnail Raptors vs. Timberwolves Pick Will betting on the host Minnesota Timberwolves pay off for bettors tonight at 9PM ET when they take on the Toronto...
Thumbnail Warriors vs. Rockets Pick Are the Houston Rockets primed for a home upset over the powerful Golden State Warriors tonight...
Thumbnail Bucks vs. 76ers Pick Are the host Philadelphia 76ers going to cruise to victory tonight when they battle the Milwaukee Bucks at...
Thumbnail Heat vs. Hornets Pick Will the Miami Heat be the correct play for bettors tonight as an underdog at the Charlotte Hornets?...

NBA Team Pages