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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Portland Trail Blazers 28 27 27 25 107
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 30 23 27 31 111
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Trail Blazers vs. Lakers
Steal and Score
Trail Blazers vs. Lakers: First half
World Peace on the Block
Nash to Howard

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Kobe scores 40, Lakers hold off Blazers 111-107

By JOE RESNICK


Posted Feb 23 2013 1:25AM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant scored 40 points, Dwight Howard had 19 points and 16 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers capped a trying week with a gritty 111-107 victory over the slumping Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

Hours after longtime Lakers owner Jerry Buss was buried, and a day after a moving memorial service punctuated by eulogies from Bryant and other franchise greats, the team got back to basketball with a much-needed victory at Staples Center.

Bryant scored 11 points in the final 5 1/2 minutes and the Lakers won for the seventh time in 10 games. They remained ninth in the Western Conference playoff race, 3 1/2 games behind Houston for the final spot with 26 remaining. Portland trails Los Angeles by 1 1/2 games.

Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited


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Points Bryant, 38
Rebounds Howard, 16
Assists Matthews (POR), 8
Steals Batum (POR), 3
Blocks Howard, 2
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike D'Antoni:

On the game:
“[Kobe] was efficient. I don’t think he took any shots in the second quarter. Dwight was good early on; they had a little bit of a blend. Steve [Nash] was off tonight. He had a lot of pick and roll shots that he just missed, which is uncharacteristic of him. But, it was a tough game. They played well. They shot the ball well. And I thought our problem was that we did not come out with real intensity on defense. That we thought we would just out score them and just run up and down and we talked about that messing with the game a little bit. Oh we will be okay, we will be okay, but you cannot do that. They have players like Batum, Aldridge, and Lillard that once they get started a lot is going to happen. I just don’t think we had the grittiness we needed, but it is over and lets get to the next one.”

“It is a mental toughness. We have stretches where we are really good half court and we’re not very good in the transition. That has kind of been the theme all year. And that is mental. We don’t get back, we take a stab, we gable. We fall asleep sometimes, even in the half court but, those are things we keep reaching and if we want to be a serious player going forward, we have to cure that. But again, it is all in the realm of possibility. We can do that and I would be less frustrated if some we can control. And we can be tougher. We can get into people. And so far we haven’t done that.”

“We are doing better. We are playing better, but obviously that’s the last part of how hard can we play? How much energy can we put into it? And we have a hard time of sustaining a lot of energy for whatever reason. It seems like the way the year has gone that something happens and shakes things up and it gets pretty good. Like changing coach, this is pretty good because I am paying attention. What happened this week, Wednesday, a lot of energy, okay I am good. We had the meeting in Memphis; we have all of this going on, good. But, we cannot sustain it. And that’s why we have turned 18 corners and have not been able to sustain it. It is a lack of willpower that dominates the game. We will keep working on it and it is getting better, but it is not where it has got to be.”

On the Laker’s bench:
“I think guys are really getting in a rhythm. Especially our bench over the last month has played really well. That’s Antawn, Jodie, and Steve Blake.”

“I just think that they are playing really well. Antawn comes in and gives us second minutes. He plays with a lot of energy, cutting, and he does a lot of good things. I think Steve Blake defensively turned the game around. He got into people a little bit; he got into Lillard, especially in the second quarter in that group. He didn’t hit his shots and he wasn’t super there, but his defense helped us. And Jodie just keeps playing well and he plays with a lot of energy and his defense is good. So that is the good part.”




Kobe Bryant:

On winning down the stretch:
“We just had to push through it. They played really well. They made some very difficult shots that kept them in the ball game but we managed to find a way.”

On being more aggressive:
“I had to be a little bit more assertive but at the same time make plays for my team. I had somewhat of an off-shooting night but I’ve been having off-shooting nights for the last month so it’s understandable and we all got through it.”

On what to carry forth to the road from these past two games:
“We need to continue to focus and approach every game like it’s a playoff game. We have to really prepare very well, go on the road and see what we can do.”




Dwight Howard:

On what decided in Lakers favor:
“I think our defense was good down the stretch, we made some tough shots and we forced them to have more shots. Early in the game they were getting more rebounds and they were doing a good job. We have to do a better job of closing our games and not giving away leads. We played around and that’s what kept them going.”

On comfort in offense:
“I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help this team win. I still have to do a better job of finishing around the basket. I missed some shots that I normally don’t miss tonight in the paint. I have to continue to work and do better.”

On turn-around bank hook consistency:
“I just continue to practice. I didn’t have a whole summer to train and get those shots down so I have to find time after practice or before practice to hit those shots. I will continue to do a good job of making those shots when they give it to me. I want them to be able to trust me down there in the block so I can be as dominating as they should be.”




Metta World Peace:

On moving past the five second call on him:
“I wasn’t really worried about the call, I was worried about the next play. I’ve been playing basketball for a long time so I don’t really worry about what’s going on. The most important thing is the next play.”

On how he was so successful against LaMarcus Aldridge:
“I’m not sure to tell you the truth. It was a great team effort. Guys were digging the ball out of the post and everybody crashing the boards, so it was a great team effort.”

On what decided the game at the end:
“I think the team play, and Steve [Nash] made some big shots at the end. I think the best team won, and we just have to continue to play together.”




Antawn Jamison:

On his improved play as of late:
“I know exactly what is needed of me, especially with the second unit. I’m just trying to go out there and get a lot of pick and rolls and try to get the tempo up. We’ve been able to do that lately. For some reason me and Dwight [Howard] play well together as far as me spreading the floor. He’s drawing so much attention that I’m able to cut back door and get some easy baskets and things of that nature. When I’m out there on the court I’m just trying to make a difference, and just try to contribute as much as possible. The last couple of games I’ve been able to do that offensively, and rebounding and defensively I’m trying to hold my own and do my job.”

On Kobe Bryant’s play tonight:
“The ‘Mamba’ came out tonight. He kind of weathered the storm in the first half, but in the second half he really came out being aggressive and made it difficult for them. From game to game there’s going to be scenarios like that. Sometimes he might not need to do that, but tonight we hit a low offensively and he was able to come in and put us over the top.”




Steve Nash:

On having an off game tonight:
“It’s great to win when you don’t play your best, and you’re not on your A game; that’s what it’s all about. Playoff teams always find a way to win when they don’t have everything.”

On his key shot in the fourth quarter:
“You just try to fight through. I tweaked my back in the first quarter, and it just kept locking up and was tight the whole game. I couldn’t get any mobility. It was clinching every time I tried to stop and shoot. At the end of the game you just try to fight through and make a play.”

On Kobe Bryant’s play tonight:
“It was great we needed him to score. We were getting great shots, I was getting great looks, but obviously I couldn’t knock something down tonight. Dwight [Howard] was really good tonight I thought. We just didn’t capitalize tonight like we normally would, and Kobe [Bryant] picked up the slack, and it was terrific.”




Mike Terry Stotts:

On tonight’s performance:
“I was glad the way our team fought. We’ve had a rough stretch and came out and played aggressively, we pushed the tempo and did a lot of good things out there. I thought we played well enough to win the game but unfortunately we didn’t”

On the (playoff) intensity:
“Not really. It was a hard fought game but it was a long way from playoff intensity.”

On considering his options for the last shot other than LaMarcus Aldridge:
“No, he’s hit big shots for us before. He had a guy he can shoot over and he’s risen to the occasion many times for us so I didn’t give it a second thought.”

On Wesley Matthews:
“I thought it was good to have him back on the court and I don’t know what his line was but he makes a difference for us, defensively and offensively. His three point shooting, we miss that and we miss his toughness so it was good to have him back.”

On their defense:
“For the most part it was pretty good. They got to the line a lot, they got a lot of calls but I thought they competed defensively. I thought our pick and roll defense was pretty good. Even though we gave up 111, I thought on the whole we held them to a poor shooting percentage and we did a lot of good things.”




Damian Lillard:

On what the team can take from tonight moving forward:
“We just got to keep playing how we played, I don’t think we need to change anything. There’s probably a few possessions we’d like to have back both offensively and defensively but I think we played a good game, they just played better.”

On the last five minutes of the game and why the Lakers were able to take the game:
“Offensively they just went to Kobe. I think any team he’s on they’d probably do the same thing. He made plays. They got stops. We got a few good looks and didn’t make the shots and they took advantage of it. Kobe scored the ball.”

On what the team has been struggling with on their losing streak:
“On the road trip we’ve struggled in transition defense. We’ve struggled scoring the ball sometimes, but I think the last two games we’ve been better. Against the Suns we just got out to a slow start and we weren’t able to recover from it, but I think we’ve gotten better these last two games. We just came out on the wrong end of the game.”

On his play tonight:
“In the first half it was the way their defense was playing, I missed a few shots, but I was just making the right play. I was assisting the ball, guys were making shots and other guys were rolling so I didn’t really think it was necessary for me to try and be too aggressive. In the second half I felt like I needed to be in more attack mode so that’s what I did.”




LaMarcus Aldridge:

On Kobe Bryant:
“He did what his team needed tonight. He made plays and his team went to him down the stretch. He came through for them.”

On the team’s struggles:
“We definitely got back on track tonight. We had a chance to win the game tonight and I thought we got back to doing things that we need to do. We just came up short tonight. Recently in games we’ve been playing with the same intensity at the same level that we played with tonight.”




Nicolas Batum:

On Kobe Bryant:
“He had a great game. We tried to play him straight, but you know that’s Kobe. It’s not like it’s his first 40 point game…he did a great job tonight.”

On his reviewed two-point shot at the end of the game:
“I didn’t know when I turned my foot and came up I thought it was a two. I saw my foot on the line first, but then I spun you know and people say ‘that’s a three, that’s a two,’ I don’t know I haven’t seen the video yet so I can’t say.”

On the last five minutes of the game and why the Lakers were able to take the game:
“They made some plays, made big shots. We didn’t make shots. I know Kobe went crazy at the end and you know, you can’t win every time.”

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Blazers - Lakers Preview

By JUSTIN EINHORN


Posted Feb 21 2013 1:56PM

The Los Angeles Lakers want to show their tribute to late owner Jerry Buss is more than just a one-game thing.

Emotions ran high in the first game after his passing, something the Lakers look to carry over - along with the drive to succeed in his honor - into Friday night's matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers and throughout the season.

This game at Staples Center comes on the same day Buss will be buried in a private service. He died Monday at the age of 80 after watching his Lakers win 10 championships since he bought the team in 1979.

In the team's first game since his death, Los Angeles easily defeated archrival Boston 113-99 on Wednesday. The Lakers locker room had "R.I.P. Dr. Buss" written on the board.

"We got to continue to carry on what he built," Kobe Bryant said. Celtics stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce said they sensed Bryant was very emotional during the game.

Dwight Howard, who had been the subject of trade rumors before general manager Mitch Kupchak said he would not be dealt, expressed the desire to honor Buss by making something out of what has been a disappointing season full of turmoil.

"I was thinking about it all day, getting this win for Dr. Buss," said Howard, who had 24 points and 12 rebounds. "We came out with a lot of energy, a lot of intensity. We have to keep working every day in practice to get better and hopefully this season can happen for us."

Howard making a bigger mark on offense could be key. After an eight-game stretch in which he failed to score in double figures six times, he's done so in five straight games and has averaged 20.3 points in the last three.

The Lakers (26-29) certainly seem to be better off when Bryant focuses more on distributing. In their last nine wins, he's averaged 16.1 points and 8.9 assists. In their last nine losses, he's averaged 23.7 points and 5.1 assists.

Bryant's outside shot has been off anyway, going 1 for 34 from 3-point range over the past 15 games and missing his last 16 attempts.

As much of the focus has been on how the offense operates, defense has been a truer sign of success lately. The Lakers have alternated wins and losses over the past seven games, allowing an average of 116.0 points on 53.1 percent shooting in three defeats compared to 90.0 points and 41.4 percent in four wins.

Defense has become a big problem for Portland (25-29), loser of six straight as opponents have averaged 108.5 points and shot 51.9 percent.

The Blazers are riding their second six-game skid of 2013 and lost for the 14th time in 19 contests Tuesday, 102-98 at home to Western Conference-worst Phoenix. They're a half-game behind the Lakers and four back of Houston for the West's eighth playoff spot.

"We're well aware (the season) can get out of hand," center J.J. Hickson said. "We know that every game is important from here on out. We're trying to make this push to make the playoffs."

Hickson and backup Meyers Leonard have been no match for Howard, who has averaged 27.5 points and 14.0 rebounds in two meetings this season as each team won on its home floor.

Portland has lost five straight and 10 of 11 on the road in this series.

Damian Lillard had 23 points in a season-opening win over the Lakers but scored 11 and shot 4 of 17 in a loss at Los Angeles on Dec. 28. The rookie point guard has averaged 23.0 points in his last three games but has nearly as many turnovers (13) as assists (14).

Starting backcourt mate Wesley Mathews (ankle, elbow) could miss a second straight contest.


Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
Probable Starters .
  Lakers    
  #15 World Peace SF #88 Batum  
  #6 ClarkPF #12 Aldridge  
  #12 Howard C #21 Hickson  
  #24 Bryant SG #18 Claver  
  #10 Nash PG #0 Lillard  


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Lakers Pau Gasol
(strained plantar fascia, right foot) is out
Jordan Hill
(torn labrum, left hip/herniated disc) is out.
Dwight Howard
(torn labrum, right shoulder) is probable.
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Mavericks Wesley Matthews
(left ankle) is questionable.
Elliot Williams
(left Achilles tendon) will not play.
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10/31 - LAL 106 @ POR 116
12/28 - POR 87 @ LAL 104
02/22 - POR @ LAL
04/10 - LAL @ POR
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