Gasol, Bryant lead the way as Lakers cruise by Raptors

LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant spent the fourth quarter on the Los Angeles Lakers' bench, content in watching the second unit blow the game open. The last thing on his mind was Wilt Chamberlain.

This kind of trend -- and attitude -- has the defending Western Conference champions off to an NBA-best 14-1 record.

Pau Gasol had 24 points and nine rebounds, Bryant had 23 points and a season-high seven assists, and the Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 112-99 on Sunday night for their seventh straight victory.

"I think 10-5 would have been great with us, but we've been playing well enough to get that momentum," coach Phil Jackson said. "Now we're just playing on momentum most of the time.

"It's human nature to get lackadaisical and for us to believe that things are going to go right for us because they have in the past. But we are only successful in the moment. And you have to prove it again and again, especially in sports."

Bryant came 15 points shy of reaching the 22,000-point mark faster than any other player. Had he done it, he would have beaten Chamberlain to that total by one day, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"To be honest, I don't follow anything of that sort. I just go out there and do what I do," Bryant said. "I don't care about that stuff. You guys got me all wrong. I just play. I play hard, and I play the same way all the time. I never concern myself with milestones or anything like that."

Jackson didn't sound so sure.

"Somebody put in the paper that Kobe needed 38 points tonight to be the youngest player to ever reach that particular thing. I mean, that was like putting a carrot in front of a donkey," Jackson said about an hour before tipoff. "That could really mess up the game for us tonight."

Not to worry. Bryant spent the third quarter facilitating in the Lakers' offensive scheme after leading them to a 61-51 halftime lead with 21 points. He was 1-for-3 with two points in his 11 minutes on the floor in the third, then became a spectator while Andrew Bynum and the Lakers' reserves went on a 17-4 run that increased a six-point lead to 107-88 with 5:50 to play.

Bryant was the fastest to 12,000 and every level up to 20,000. The two-time scoring champion and 10-time All-Star was the second-fastest to 21,000. He averaged 48.5 points in the Lakers' previous four home games against Toronto, including a staggering 81 on Jan. 22, 2006 -- the second-highest total in league history.

One reason Bryant has been so receptive to Jackson's balanced-scoring mantra this season could be that the 13-year veteran no longer is missing a scoring title or an MVP trophy from his voluminous resume.

"Kobe does have agendas at times that will come out," Jackson said. "A couple of years ago when things didn't go well, he went on that tear. So he could get into that. It's a long season, but I hope he stays focused on what the overall plan is."

Bynum scored seven of his 18 points during the pivotal rally, including an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Sasha Vujacic, and another alley-oop play in which he guided in Jordan Farmar's lob above the rim. Bynum shot 8-for-13 and grabbed 10 rebounds despite a bone spur in his right foot, which he's had since landing on Vince Carter's foot during last Tuesday's game against New Jersey.

"There's going to be a period of adjustment he has to go through," Jackson said. "He's going to have to find a way to get through this. And if he does, then we're going to feel pretty good until the next incident happens -- and then we'll have to deal with that at that time. But unless this moves around in his foot, we're in pretty good shape if he can adjust his play to accommodate that."

Anthony Parker led Toronto with 19 points and five teammates also scored in double figures. Jermaine O'Neal missed his third straight because of a sprained left ankle. The Lakers held leading scorer Chris Bosh to 12 points on 4-for-13 shooting.

"I know that good teams are not going to let me just get off offensively," said Bosh, who came in averaging a career-best 27.7 points. "They did a great job of trapping and their rotations were really good. I didn't get too many good shots all night and I made some costly turnovers."

The Lakers beat the Raptors for the seventh straight time at home. Toronto has never won a season series from the Lakers during its 13 seasons in the league and trail the all-time series 20-5.

"The first quarter was a little bit of a slow start for us defensively, but then we were able to dig our heels in and get used to the rhythm," Bryant said. "We tried to corral Bosh a little bit. They had some double-digit deficits and the rhythm of the game was kind of getting away from them a little bit. They were looking to take some 3-point shots in transition and kind of got away from going to him a little bit."

Game notes
Jordan Farmar, who turned 22 years old on Sunday, hit a 3-pointer during a 13-1 run that extended a one-point Lakers lead to 51-38 with 4:57 left in the half. ... Toronto point guard Jose Calderon, who came in 40-for-40 on free throws, didn't go to the line until 2:40 remained in the second quarter, after the Lakers got a technical foul for a defensive 3-second violation. He was 3-for-3 from the line, finishing with 12 points, 12 assists and six rebounds. ... The Lakers, whose eight fouls in Friday night's 114-107 win over Dallas were the fewest since the franchise moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles for the 1960-61 season, matched that total in the first half and finished with 18.