Lakers Start to Gel, Beat Raptors

It looks like Phil Jackson may have found his rotation.

For two preseason games in a row Phil Jackson has gone with a starting five of Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, bringing Lamar Odom off the bench with Jordan Farmar and Trevor Ariza. And two nights in a row the Lakers have picked up wins.

This time the win came over the Toronto Raptors, 112-89. While this may have been just a preseason win, there were good signs for Lakers fans.

The Lakers starters jumped out to a 24-13 lead, but it was the bench that stole the show, particularly in the second half after the Lakers had squandered the early lead. Jordan Farmar led the Lakers with 16 points and a couple of highlight reel plays, Trevor Ariza came off the bench to add 14. Bryant added 13.

One of the nights highlights came late in the third, when Ariza stole the ball starting a fast break that ended with Farmar dunking over Chris Bosh. Then in the first minutes of the fourth quarter, Farmar got the steal and was ahead on the break but Jason Kapono was right behind him, so Farmar passed it off the backboard to a trailing Ariza for a dunk. After those plays, the Lakers never looked back.

Who would play where, particularly Odom, was one of the big questions around the Lakers coming into camp. One of the questions about the starting five Jackson seems to have settled on is how they would defend. Through two games the experiment seems to be working. Starting a front line that is 6-10, 7-foot and 7-1 gives the Lakers a very long group that can cover mistakes and alter a lot of shots. That doesn’t change when Odom and Ariza come off the bench (Odom had a couple of blocks for the Lakers against the Raptors).

One of the interesting matchups of the night was Bynum and Gasol against Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal, the twin towers of Toronto. Raptor coach Sam Mitchell liked what he saw from the Lakers bigs.

"They make our two big guys look small," Mitchell said.

Anthony Parker (brother of WNBA MVP Candice Parker) led Toronto with 14 points. Chris Bosh added 11 points and 11 assists.

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