Two hundred forty days after the first major injury of his career, Kobe Bryant will be back in uniform when the Los Angeles Lakers host the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night at the Staples center.
Bryant suffered a torn Achilles versus the Golden State Warriors on April 12, 2013, and the Los Angeles franchise player will be making his debut in the 2013-2014 NBA regular season, and the debate whether the new Kobe will be as good as the old Kobe will promptly begin.
The Lakers have actually overachieved this season: Los Angeles (10-9) is one game above 0.500 and looks live have held the fort nicely without their superstar. The Lakers have won three of their last four games and six of their last eight.
The Lakers are fourth in assists (24.1 APG) as a team and it remains to be seen if they can assume the same persona with the return of the volume-shooting Bryant.
Without him, the Lakers have four players average in double-figure scoring, including Pau Gasol (14.5 PPG), Nick Young (14.2 PPG), Jodie Meeks (13.5 PPG) and Steve Blake (10.2 PPG).
Meanwhile, the Raptors have gone the opposite direction having underachieved in the first 18 games of the season with just six wins to show for.
The Raps are currently on a five-game slide, including the last two against the Golden State Warriors, 112-103, in a game where they led by as many as 27 points and the Phoenix Suns, 106-97.
Toronto has its own volume-shooting wingman in Rudy Gay, who averages 19.4 PPG and 7.4 RPG. DeMar Derozan leads the team in scoring with 21.3 PPG.
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Betting Lines: Toronto Raptors (+5) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (O/U 203.5) Game time: 12:30 pm AEDT
Toronto Raptors Trends - Raptors are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games - Raptors are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games vs. West teams - Raptors are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games after a loss
Los Angeles Lakers Trends - Lakers are 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 games - Lakers are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games vs. East teams - Lakers are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games at home