THE FACTS: Kobe Bryant had a season-high 47 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a critical 113-106 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday night at the Rose Garden.
Bryant was 14-for-27 from the field and 18-for-18 from the foul line and played all 48 minutes for the Lakers (42-37), who have a one-game lead over Utah for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference with three games to play. Portland rookie Damian Lillard scored a career-high 38 points to go with nine assists for the Trail Blazers (33-45), who lost for the ninth straight time.
QUOTABLE: "He imposed his will on us tonight. He didn't want to lose that game."
--Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge on Bryant
THE STAT I: According to Elias Sports, Bryant's 47-point, five-assist, three-steal night made him the third player (since steals became an official statistic in 1973-74) to go for 45-plus points, five-plus assists and three-plus steals at the age of 34 or older. The other two players to accomplish that feat? Larry Bird (March 15, 1992) and Michael Jordan (Dec. 31, 2001).
THE STAT II: According to Elias Sports, Bryant is the first player with at least 47 points, eight rebounds, five assists, four blocks and three steals in an NBA game.
THE STAT III: In the Blazers' loss, Lillard joined LeBron James, Jason Kidd and Jordan as the only rookies to record at least 38 points, eight assists and three steals in a game.
THE STAT IV: The Lakers shot a season-best .589 from the field but made only 6 of their 19 shots from 3-point range.
TURNING POINT: Portland was on top 95-90 with nine minutes left, but the Lakers, with Bryant heading the charge, outscored the Blazers 16-5 over the next five minutes to seize a 106-100 lead with 4:09 to play.
QUOTABLE II: "Lillard came out and just started torching us. I figured I'd try to keep the pace. It was like a marathon run, where a runner takes off and the guy behind him doesn't really want to chase him, but has to just to keep pace. He's fantastic, really fantastic. I told him he was a bad boy. He was out there cooking with gasoline tonight."
-- Kobe Bryant on Lillard
HOT: Bryant had 17 in the first quarter and scored 28 before the break. Lillard also scored 17 points in the first quarter and had 25 by halftime.
NOT: Portland shot .605 from the field in the first half and .286 in the second half.
GOOD MOVE: Portland coach Terry Stotts set his young club loose running the first half against an aging Laker team that was playing the second of back-to-back games. The Blazers led at halftime 69-61 with their highest first-half point total of the season.
QUOTABLE III: "There was a lot of pride involved. Him being a Hall of Fame shooting guard; me being a rookie who is not going to back down. I scored some points and he took the challenge to guard me. Will [Barton] picked up two fouls and I decided I was going to pick [Bryant] up. That's just what it turned into. it wasn't a duel between us. It's just how the game played out."
-- Lillard on Bryant
NOTABLE: The Lakers are now 5-17 in games at the Rose Garden since 2002. ... Lillard is the first rookie with 38 points and nine assists in a game since Miami's LeBron James, then with Cleveland in March 2004. Lillard is the first player in the NBA this season to record 38 points, nine assists and three steals. ... Lakers point guard Steve Blake had two offensive rebounds in the last two minutes and finished with eight points and seven boards. ... That was the second-best perfect free-throw performance of Bryant's career. He was 20-for-20 in a game against New York in February 2009. ... Bryant, who was 1-for-5 from 3-point range, is 4 for his last 33 attempts from beyond the arc. ... Bryant averaged 36.0 points in four games against Portland this season. Dwight Howard averaged 23.3 points and 12.3 rebounds in those games against the Blazers. ... Steve Nash (hamstring) missed his fifth straight game for the Lakers. ... Portland was without three injured starters — Nicolas Batum (shoulder), J.J. Hickson (back) and Wesley Matthews (ankle). The Blazers started four rookies — Lillard, Barton, Meyers Leonard and Victor Claver.
UP NEXT: For the Lakers, Friday vs. Golden State, Sunday vs. San Antonio, Wednesday vs. Houston. For the Trail Blazers, Friday vs. Oklahoma City, Sunday @ Denver, Tuesday @ LA Clippers.