TORONTO – Nick Young says the Los Angeles Lakers have woken up since airing some grievances at a team meeting last week.
Young returned from suspension to score 29 points, Pau Gasol had 22 and the Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 112-106 on Sunday, just their third win in 15 games.
“Nick’s been doing it all year and he just keeps going,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said.
Young was suspended for Friday’s victory at Boston after he was ejected for throwing a punch at Phoenix’s Goran Dragic in a loss last Wednesday. Rested and refreshed, Young scored 15 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers overcame a 19-point first-half deficit. They won back-to-back games for the first time since beating Memphis on Dec. 17 and Minnesota on Dec. 20.
Los Angeles held a team meeting before Friday’s game to address Young’s ejection, and suggestions that his teammates had not done enough to stand up for him after a hard foul by Suns center Alex Len. Young called the meeting “a turning point” in what’s been a dismal season so far.
“We had an altercation that woke us all up and we’re out there battling with each other now,” Young said. “Now we’re just laying it out there.”
Ryan Kelly scored 17 in his first career start and Kendall Marshall had 10 points and 11 assists.
Kelly said Friday’s meeting underscored a “lack of urgency” in both the team’s response to Len’s foul on Young, and the Lakers’ play in general.
“That was carrying over into the game, a lack of urgency to get back on defense, a lack of urgency to rebound and things like that,” Kelly said. “When we saw that on tape, that’s the one thing it did for us is to make us realize that on every play, every possession, we have to have that sense of urgency.”
The Lakers reached the midway point of the season with a record of 16-25.
“It’s really gratifying to win back-to-back games on the road, especially with the way we’ve been struggling,” Gasol said. “I’m just really proud of the guys. They’re stepping up, they’re bringing the effort, bringing the intensity, bringing the focus and not wanting to give up.”
Thunder 108, Kings 93
In Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant scored 30 points to lead the Thunder past Sacramento.
Durant, coming off a career-high 54 points Friday against Golden State, shot 10 for 15 from the field and had nine assists. He scored at least 30 points for the seventh straight game.
Serge Ibaka added 20 points and Reggie Jackson had 16 for the Thunder, who won their third straight.
Magic 93, Celtics 91
In Orlando, Arron Afflalo had 20 points and 13 rebounds, Tobias Harris added 18 points and the Magic snapped a season-high 10-game losing streak.
After several ties in the fourth quarter, Harris hit a pair of free throws with 10.1 seconds left.
Spurs 110, Bucks 82
In San Antonio, Patty Mills had 20 points, Tim Duncan had 11 points and 13 rebounds in limited action, and the Spurs kept Milwaukee winless in the new year.
Marco Belinelli scored 14 points, Jeff Ayres and Nando De Colo had 13 points apiece, and Kawhi Leonard added 11 points in 21 minutes for San Antonio.
Suns 117, Nuggets 103
In Phoenix, Channing Frye scored a season-high 30 points before sitting out the final 9½ minutes to watch the Suns wrap up a victory.
Frye, who missed all of last season for treatment of an enlarged heart, made 12 of 16 shots, 5 of 7 3-pointers, to fall three points shy of his career high.