L.A. Lakers 86, Portland 83
PORTLAND, Ore., Feb. 23 (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant
and the Los Angeles
Lakers finally have a three-game winning streak.
Bryant scored 12 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter and the
Lakers held on for an 86-83 victory over the Portland Trail
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Despite holding a 27-24 record entering the day and the eighth
and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Lakers had
yet to record three wins in a row all season. They failed 10
previous times when given a chance to notch a third straight
"We finally got that monkey off our back," Bryant said. "Now we
can move on and welcome the defending champions at the STAPLES
Los Angeles hosts Detroit on Friday.
"I don't want to hear anything about three in a row anymore,
OK?" Lakers interim coach Frank Hamblen
said. "It was a big win
for us on the road. It would be great if we could win seven or
eight in a row, but right now we'll just go one game at a
Los Angeles is 3-1 since Bryant returned from a severely
sprained right ankle prior to the All-Star break and leaned
heavily on him against the Trail Blazers.
Midway through the third quarter, Bryant had 19 points but just
one assist as the Lakers faced their largest deficit, 58-51. He
hit a basket to begin a 10-0 run that put Los Angeles ahead to
stay and assisted on five of the team's next 10 baskets.
"We get up seven points and then we miss a couple of shots and
they come down and Kobe makes incredible shots again," Trail
Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks
said. "From then on, we were
With the ball in Bryant's hands down the stretch, the seven-time
All-Star scored the Lakers' last 10 points, including eight on
free throws to cap a 13-of-13 effort from the line.
Portland scored seven consecutive points in the closing moments
and had a chance to tie the game on its final possession. But
forced a 3-point attempt and Shareef Abdur-Rahim
missed another as the buzzer sounded.
"We just tried to corral Stoudamire because he had made some big
shots," Bryant said. "The ball kicked out to Shareef and he
had a good look. It just didn't go in for him."
Stoudamire scored 25 points and Abdur-Rahim, who was activated
from the injured list earlier in the day, added 16 off the
"Shareef is a terrific player," Cheeks said. "We have to find
ways to get him minutes. He was good tonight after being off
for six weeks."
Abdur-Rahim and Joel Przybilla
shot a combined 6-of-9 in the
first half while the rest of the Blazers were just 6-of-33,
helping the Lakers take a 43-39 lead into the break.
"About the only thing that kept them in the game in the first
half is that we fouled them so much," Hamblen said. "We put
them to the line so darn much (14-of-17), it kept it a
four-point game at half."
Przybilla scored 10 points and gathered nine rebounds in the
first quarter but had just five points and one board thereafter.
Portland has lost five of six and faces missing the playoffs for
a second straight season after earning a postseason berth each
of the previous 21 campaigns.
"This is not the end, but it is a dagger," Cheeks said. "We
realize we have to win games. Certainly we are not done, but we
can't afford to stumble."