THE FACTS: One streak came to an end Friday night when Lakers guard Kobe Bryant scored 27 points to finish under 30 for the first time in the last 11 games, but Pau Gasol continued another with his suddenly potent 3-point shooting. Dwight Howard also stepped up with another big game against the Trail Blazers, helping the Lakers (15-15) move back to .500 with a 104-87 victory at Staples Center.
THE STAT: In his first 815 games in the NBA, the 7-foot Gasol made 28 shots from 3-point range. In the last three, he has made five. Gasol made two against Portland, the second consecutive game he has scored two baskets from beyond the arc. He finished with 15 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots.
QUOTABLE: "Oh, we've got some weapons. Sometimes they're pointed toward us."
--Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni
TURNING POINT: The Trail Blazers (14-14) never led in the game, falling behind by as many as 12 points in the opening quarter and 20 in the second. Portland made a few pushes early in the third to cut the deficit to 12, but Bryant scored five points in a 7-0 run that pushed the lead to 74-56 with 7:14 left in the third and the Blazers never got closer than 15 the rest of the way.
HOT: Howard wouldn't mind playing the Trail Blazers more often. After scoring a season-high 33 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in the first meeting on Halloween, Howard totaled 21 points and 14 rebounds the second time around. Portland even tried fouling Howard intentionally during the second quarter, hoping to take advantage of his 51.2 percent free-throw shooting this season, but Howard stepped to the line and calmly made all four free throws, putting an end to the Hack-a-Howard defense.
QUOTABLE II: "When he plays hard, it really takes a toll on the other team at both ends of the floor."
--Steve Nash on Howard
NOT: Portland center J.J. Hickson came into the game with nine straight double-doubles, the most for a Blazer since Kermit Washington in 1980. But the 6-9 center was stymied by Howard, missing all seven field-goal attempts and matching his season-low with two points. He didn't even record a single-double, finishing with eight rebounds.
GOOD MOVE: Portland rookie point guard Damian Lillard looked like he had a good matchup coming into the game, especially since L.A. is led by 38-year-old point guard Nash. But then D'Antoni announced before the game that second-year guard Darius Morris would guard Lillard, a switch that seemed to throw off Lillard. He shot 4-for-17 and scored 11 points, his third-lowest scoring output this season. Nash, meanwhile, held his own while giving away seven inches in his attempt to guard 6-10 rookie Victor Claver at the start of the game. Claver never got off a shot in the first 6 ½ minutes he was on the floor.
QUOTABLE III: "Damian had a lot of shots that he could make. They have good length when he drives in there. It's Gasol, [Jordan] Hill and Howard, and they're long, but I thought he had a lot of shots he could make and he didn't make them tonight."
--Portland coach Terry Stotts
BAD MOVE: Four weeks ago, Lakers veteran Antawn Jamison had 33 points and 12 rebounds in a 122-103 victory against the visiting Nuggets, stealing minutes from Gasol along the way. Jamison didn't get off the bench for the fourth straight game Friday, which was especially unusual because he was the only player for L.A. who didn't appear in the game. D'Antoni was probably saving him the embarrassment of entering a game for mop-up duty, but even D'Antoni said recently that the Lakers will eventually need Jamison to perform.
NOTABLE: During halftime, the Lakers retired the jersey of Jamaal Wilkes, who wore No. 52 while playing eight seasons for the Lakers from 1977-85, helping them win four championships. ... Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge had a team-high 27 points before leaving in the third quarter with a "sternal contusion." Stotts said after the game he expects Aldridge to play Saturday night against the visiting 76ers. ... Portland shooting guard Wesley Matthews missed his third consecutive game with a left hip flexor strain.
UP NEXT: For the Lakers, Tuesday vs. Philadelphia, Friday @ Clippers, Jan. 6 vs. Denver. For the Trail Blazers, Saturday vs. 76ers, Tuesday @ Knicks, Wednesday @ Toronto.