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Raptors vs. Lakers: This version of Kobe Bryant inspires optimism in his opponents

With the Raptors listing at the moment, Toronto can look to a game against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers to get the team back afloat.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Doesn't it feel like just yesterday when Kobe Bryant destroyed the Raptors to the tune of 81 points and thousands of broken hearts? It wasn't. It was actually almost 10 years ago. (The game was on January 22, 2006, so we're coming up on the tin anniversary.) But those feelings, well, they are the kind to last a life time.

And really, the feelings are all we have left now. The Kobe of 81 points is long gone, and what's left is shooting 34 percent from the field (and an abysmal 23 percent from three) for 16.7 points per game. At his current pace, it would take Kobe almost five games to get to 81 points. This is a bizarre and unfair fact. But that's math for you.

Also math-related: The Raptors are 7-6 right now, and have, as of late, looked mildly discombobulated. A win tonight may, just may, be the only one they get on this five game road trip. They blew it against Sacramento. They let Golden State slip away. They ran out of gas in Utah. And on Sunday they face an angry Clippers team.

The Lakers are 2-9. They are a team that features Nick Young. They have Lou Williams who is a very known quantity. Their coach may or may not think he's in a Vietnam War movie. This could be it.

Do it for the memories of 81. Come on, Raptors.

(Also, read our preview here and then get in the comments to follow along.)