LOS ANGELES, Oct. 30 (AP) -- The little toe on Shaquille O'Neal's left foot remains sore from surgery two months ago, and he's not in tip-top condition.


Portland's Rasheed Wallace stuffs one home in the season opener.
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Nevertheless, he was fit enough to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 98-87 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night as the two-time defending NBA champions began their quest for a three-peat. Dominating the middle against the smaller Blazers, O'Neal had 29 points, 18 rebounds, five assists and five blocked shots as the Lakers led from start to finish.

"Hurtin', bad," O'Neal said about the toe. "I'm still good enough to do what I do."

O'Neal was surprised to learn he played 40 minutes -- more than he expected, and more than coach Phil Jackson planned.

"We had so many guys in foul trouble the first half, I had to put him in earlier," Jackson said.

O'Neal even made 9-of-16 free throws after going 18-of-51 during the preseason.

"You guys know when I need to hit them, I can hit them -- every single time," he said. O'Neal said he was at about 85 percent physically.

"I don't need to be in shape to play this game, not me, no," he said. "I never get tired, I just get beat up. I know I'll get there quickly."

At one point in the second quarter, with the sellout crowd of 18,997 at Staples Center relatively quiet, a fan yelled: "He can't guard you, Shaq, he can not guard you," referring to Portland's Shawn Kemp.

The fan was right.

Kobe Bryant also had 29 points for the Lakers, and added seven rebounds and four assists.

The game was the first for Portland coach Maurice Cheeks, who said with a smile: "A little of both," when asked beforehand if he was nervous or excited about his first game as a head coach.

Afterward, he said: "The start of the game put us in a hole, and you know we climbed back, we got within two, but sometimes it takes a lot out of you to get there."

The Lakers took a 21-6 lead in the first eight minutes.

Before the game, the Lakers raised their eighth championship banner and received their championship rings in an 11-minute ceremony.

They won their second straight title last June, beating the Philadelphia 76ers in the finals, and are attempting to become the fifth NBA team to win three straight championships.

"We talked to each other after we got the rings and said, `This is what you guys are here for," Bryant said, referring to the four new players on the Lakers' active roster. "We want to get you guys one of these. They're hungry and they're thirsty for it."

Rasheed Wallace led the Blazers with 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Damon Stoudamire had 20 points and six assists.

Derek Anderson added 17 points, but left after spraining his right ankle midway through the third quarter and didn't return.

Cheeks said Anderson probably wouldn't play Wednesday night against Golden State in the Blazers' home opener.

Portland's Bonzi Wells, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee April 6, played in his first game since the injury and had seven points in 20 minutes.

"I didn't think we played particularly well, but we did some good things," said Scottie Pippen, who was held to two points in 33 minutes. "We just couldn't come up with it. We came out and played hard, that is a positive sign in some sense."

The Blazers scored the first four points of the third quarter to draw within five, but a basket by O'Neal, five straight points by newcomer Lindsey Hunter and a dunk by Bryant put the Lakers ahead 64-50.

Portland then outscored the Lakers 16-4 to draw within two before Bryant's eight points sparked an 11-2 Los Angeles run to finish the third period, making it 79-68.

The Blazers weren't closer than nine points in the fourth quarter.

A basket by O'Neal and two more by Bryant gave the Lakers a 6-0 lead, and they never looked back. It was 29-20 entering the second quarter, and O'Neal made two straight baskets and then blocked a shot by Kemp during an 11-0 run that put the Lakers on top 42-25.

The Blazers outscored the Lakers 13-5 to finish the period, making it 55-46 at halftime.

Wallace, who committed an NBA-record 41 technical fouls last season, was hit with his first of the new season in the second quarter as the fans roared their approval.

Notes: The Blazers played without Ruben Patterson, a former Laker who signed as a free-agent over the summer. Patterson was suspended for the season's first five games by the NBA in connection with a modified guilty plea to attempted rape last year. ...Lakers guard Derek Fisher, who underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot July 3, had a bone scan earlier in the day. "The results were great," team spokesman John Black said. Fisher has been cleared to run, do lateral drills, and shoot jumpers. It's hoped he'll be playing in about a month. Fisher missed the first 62 games last season due to a similar injury. ... The Lakers have won 10 straight season-openers.