GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Portland Blazers 20 28 18 14 80
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 27 17 18 22 84

Lakers rally past Blazers late for 12th win in 13


LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant scored 10 of his 22 points in a dynamic fourth quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied from behind in the final three minutes for their 12th win in 13 games, 84-80 over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night.

Derek Fisher made back-to-back steals to put the Lakers ahead with 1:56 to play before hitting a clinching jumper with 10 seconds left. Bryant did the rest despite his sprained ankle and sore jaw, highlighted by a picture-perfect fallaway jumper with 32 seconds to play.

The Lakers managed a late surge despite playing without starting center Andrew Bynum, who was suspended two games by the NBA on Sunday for his flagrant foul on Minnesota's Michael Beasley two days earlier.

Nicolas Batum scored 22 of his 25 points in the first three quarters for the Blazers, whose three-game winning streak ended with a fourth-quarter flop, scoring just 14 points on 5-for-18 shooting.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points in Bynum's absence down low, while Marcus Camby had 10 rebounds before hobbling off the court with an undisclosed injury in the final minutes. With three straight losses to the Lakers, Portland lost the season series with Los Angeles for the first time since 2004-05.

Although their last two wins haven't exactly been works of art, the Lakers formally clinched a playoff berth earlier Sunday when the Utah Jazz lost to Houston, and this victory wrapped up their fourth consecutive Pacific Division title and 50-victory season.

In Bynum's absence, Portland outrebounded the Lakers 45-35 and nursed a steady lead throughout the second half after making a 15-0 run spanning halftime, holding the Lakers without a field goal for 6 1/2 minutes.

But Bryant's acrobatic layup pulled Los Angeles to 74-72, and Bryant dunked after a steal by Fisher to even it at 76 with 2:20 to play.

Fisher made another steal on the next possession and drove for a layup to put the Lakers ahead. After Bryant's jumper with 1:11 left put the Lakers up by four points, Ron Artest got a technical foul from referee Dan Crawford after exchanging shoves down low with Gerald Wallace.

Lamar Odom had 16 points and 11 rebounds while starting in Bynum's place, and Pau Gasol added 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson was disappointed by the league's decision on a two-game suspension for Bynum, who was ejected after turning his shoulder and sending Beasley crashing to the court during the Lakers' win last Friday. Jackson said he doesn't understand the NBA's logic in its decisions.

Bryant showed no ill effects early from his sprained ankle and a sore jaw resulting from a head-to-head collision with Minnesota's Martell Webster. The All-Star game MVP scored 10 points in the first half, but the Lakers missed Bynum's defensive presence and even his scoring in the first half, getting just eight points apiece from Gasol and Odom.

Portland took its first lead on Aldridge's layup 53 seconds before halftime. Batum went 8 for 10 for 19 points in the first half, hitting a 3-pointer in the final minute to stake the Blazers to a 48-44 lead.

Matt Barnes banked in a 3-pointer from a step inside the half-court line at the third-quarter buzzer, trimming the Blazers' lead to 66-62.

NOTES: Odom has started 33 games for the Lakers this season, while Bynum has started 37. Bynum missed the first 28 games while recovering from offseason knee surgery. ... The Lakers have reached the playoffs in 33 of the last 35 seasons, missing the postseason only in 1993-94 and 2004-05. ... Fans near courtside included Bruce Willis, Will Ferrell, David Arquette and Andy Garcia.

Copyright 2011 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

5 Straight shots made by the home team to finish the game, including three from Kobe Bryant and two from Derek Fisher. Portland, meanwhile, made only 1-of-8 to close the game. Phil Jackson cited improved awareness, energy and the forcing of turnovers as keys to the fourth quarter defense.

6 Turnovers forced by the Lakers in the fourth quarter, resulting in eight points at the other end, four of which came during a critical stretch in the final minutes as both Bryant and Fisher stole the ball and converted layups at the other end. "When it comes down the stretch, I'm comfortable just making the play," said Fisher. "It's not always going to be make a shot, but even defensively, just being in the right spot at the right time you get a steal, which then allows you to go down and make a shot." His shot with 10 seconds left sealed the game, after his steal with two minutes left put L.A. up for the first time in the second half.

9 The biggest lead for both teams at varying points of the action, though the lead changed hands only twice. The Lakers led by seven points after the first quarter, but Portland rallied to lead by four at the half and after three quarters. L.A. reclaimed the lead for good on Fisher's transition layup with 1:56 on the clock.

73 Lamar Odom's shooting percentage on 8-of-11 field goals in an outstanding all-around game. He scored 16 points with 11 rebounds and a game-high six assists, plus two steals in 41 minutes of action. Portland assistant coach Bob Ociepka echoed comments from Minnesota assistant J.B. Bickerstaff that Odom was by far the most difficult sub (starting for Bynum in this one) for whom to prepare in the NBA.

View More Photos

Points Bryant 22, 9-20 FG
Rebounds Gasol 13, 5 OFF 8 DEF
Assists Odom 6
Steals Barnes 3
Blocks Gasol 2


Lakers coach Phil Jackson on Kobe Bryant's tough shot with 32 seconds left in the game:
"That's a difficult shot…We've seen [Brandon] Roy make shots like that. Players that are the difference makers in this game are the kind of guys that make those kind of shots, and to have the ability to continue elevating or continue hanging and get the shot off against a good defense."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on what changed about his team's defense in the fourth quarter:
"I think we had better awareness. I think guys got alert. We talked about bringing more energy to it, [and] turnovers. Creating some turnovers are such a big difference in the ball game when you can do that."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on if he is surprised Derek Fisher can still impact games like he did tonight in the fourth quarter:
"No, I'm not surprised at it. I think he just gets better as the game wears on. Those big plays are part of his character that he comes through with. He brings the Lakers back time and time again in situations like that."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on tonight's win:
"Well, I think Matt Barnes started off something good after three quarters of frustration –actually not a bad first quarter but the middle quarters were difficult for us. In the fourth quarter we got some defense working and we survived that game. That's about all I can say."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on how important his team's defense was in igniting a fourth quarter run to pull away:
"[It was important] especially on home court, having that advantage is sometimes an extra special thing. It was a back-to-back for Portland. I told the team that we probably saved a game in this situation that we could have easily lost. It was just the hard work…"

Lakers' Derek Fisher on his performance tonight:
"I'm just always in the mindset of trying to help us win and that involves, even if things aren't going well for me early or if I'm on the bench, I'm still trying to pay attention to the game and trying to pay attention to match-ups and guys that I'm going to guard and situations I'm going to be in. When it comes down the stretch I'm comfortable just making the play. It's not always going to be to make a shot, but even defensively, just being in the right spot at the right time you get a steal, which then allows you to go down and make a shot."

Lakers' Derek Fisher on the teams' defense tonight without Andrew Bynum:
"I think we started to scrap in the fourth quarter a lot more. In the first three quarters they were beating us to the loose balls, they were going to the offensive glass and tipping it back out and getting multiple shot opportunities. Those things are going to happen when you miss your big guy in the middle. We talked about it at the end of the third quarter, as a group, that regardless of whether we win or lose the game, we have to send a message that people aren't going to come into our building and push us around, and elbow us in the face and elbow us in the mouth. I think in the fourth quarter we stood it up and played the type of defense we needed to play."

Lakers' Lamar Odom on the referees calls tonight:
"Sometimes the games like that. The game had a flow to it, and it let us play through some things. At the end of the day it was fun, it was competitive, and that team made us work for a victory."

Lakers' Lamar Odom on the Trail Blazers out re-bounding the Lakers:
"…they gave up way too many offensive rebounds, especially in the first half. Those guys did a great job at crashing the boards, they kept at it, and they made us work. Sometimes it's just about finding a way to win the game and tonight we were able to do that."

Lakers' Pau Gasol on winning the Pacific Division title:
"It was just out will; our will to make plays and battle. We're playing great. It wasn't very fluid out there but we just got the job done and that's the most important thing."

Lakers' Pau Gasol on Derek Fisher's 4th quarter:
"He makes plays for us. He hustles, he plays hard and he comes up with big steals and makes big shots. That's what he does for us."

Lakers' Kobe Bryant on Derek Fisher being a clutch performer:
"He makes big shots all the time. Tonight he didn't have a good game [statistically] because he was in foul trouble. His stroke was there and he's shooting the ball well. He makes big plays all the time."

Lakers' Kobe Bryant on the intensity of tonight's game:
"It was similar [to a playoff game] because this could be a potential opponent. I think we both know that so I think it's a little elevated because of that."

Blazers coach Nate McMillan on tonight's loss:
"I think it was mostly us. Once again, we have control of this game and we don't execute down the stretch and they tighten up their defense. We have a few turnovers, we miss some shots and they're able to execute down the stretch. But I thought it was us again."

Blazers coach Nate McMillan on Nicolas Batum and the Blazers offense tonight:
"I thought he did a nice job of knocking down some shots early. We tried to run Artest and Kobe off some screens and just move their defense. Their defense is pretty good when you allow them to zone up. We had pretty good movement early but late, we didn't move. Their defense tightened up and forced some turnovers."

Blazers coach Nate McMillan on taking advantage of the Lakers down low without Andrew Bynum:
"That's what we tried to do. We turned the ball over and we missed some shots. So we had an opportunity here."

Blazers coach Nate McMillan on the last three minutes of tonight's game:
"We didn't make shots and we turned the ball over. This is when you have to tighten up and execute. The things that we've been doing well, we didn't do tonight. The defense is going to get more aggressive with a team like the Lakers…but you got to play through that."

Blazers coach Nate McMillan on how costly losses are at this point in the season:
"We haven't clinched…so you have to win games. Certainly, when you have an opportunity to win a game, you need to take it and put that game away."

Blazers coach Nate McMillan on tonight's game down the stretch:
"We had this game. This game was very similar to the last game we played [the Lakers]. We're ahead…late in this ballgame, we have to make plays down the stretch late in the fourth quarter."

Trail Blazers Andre Miller on the last few minutes of tonight's game:
"The game got a little tougher, you know, like games are playing against a team like the [Lakers]. It got aggressive with the hands, the turnovers, shots…we can't complain, we had control of that game. We played decent defense. It's just that we didn't get it done at the end."

Trail Blazers Andre Miller on tonight's game:
"It was a good game by both teams. We played good defense, that's always good, we didn't let them get too many second baskets. I think, you know, the turnovers, my turnover, I think Rudy had a turnover, and those led to baskets."

Trail Blazers Andre Miller on how big a loss is right now with playoffs coming up:
"Every loss is big. You just move on to the next game. We played some decent basketball. It's a tough back to back game to come here and play against a team that was here waiting for us. So, we played good basketball, we just didn't finish off the last three or four minutes."

Trail Blazers Brandon Roy on the last few minutes of tonight's game:
"We turned the ball, we didn't have a good pace going down the stretch. And offensively it seemed like we were out of sync. Our biggest thing was we were just out of sync, it wasn't just one guy, none of us could really make plays down the stretch."

Trail Blazers Brandon Roy on what went wrong in the fourth quarter:
"I don't know, I don't know. We'll watch some film, see what we did. Again, we had lots of turnovers, a lot of missed shots. We got to go back and watch the film and see exactly what we did, but something kind of changed in the fourth quarter. The defense got a little better, got a little more physical. So, we'll watch the film and see what went wrong."

Trail Blazers Brandon Roy on tonight's loss:
"Yeah, we felt like we gave ourselves a good chance to put ourselves in the position at the end. You know, you can't never say you had a game against the Lakers, you know, you got to try to win 'em. We didn't win it, we've got them one more time, so hopefully we can get them in our building."



Despite being bothered by a sore ankle and now a stiff neck, Kobe Bryant promises he'll play when the Los Angeles Lakers host Portland on Sunday night.

He certainly was ready the last time he saw the Trail Blazers.

Bryant had 37 points in an overtime victory at Portland last month, a performance the Lakers would love to see him channel in this potential playoff preview as they seek a 12th win in 13 games.

Bryant has been dealing with a sore ankle, but that hasn't been enough to slow Los Angeles (49-20). The Lakers bounced back from a 94-88 loss at Miami on March 10 - their lone defeat since the All-Star break - with strong defensive performances in home wins over Dallas and Orlando, overcoming subpar shooting from Bryant.

The Lakers' superstar had another rough time against Minnesota on Friday, shooting 6 for 17 and taking a shot in the jaw from Martell Webster'shead in a fourth-quarter collision. Los Angeles prevailed 106-98 thanks to 25 points from Pau Gasol, and Bryant pronounced himself good to go for Sunday.

"I can take a hit," said Bryant, who's been held under 20 points in three straight games for the first time since Jan. 10-13, 2010. "It was just that my neck snapped back. My neck is pretty stiff right now. … I'm trying to work through it, that's all.

"I'll be ready (against Portland) for sure, I promise you that. I'll be more than ready."

The Lakers would surely take a repeat of his performance Feb. 23 in Portland. Bryant scored 28 of his 37 points in the second half, helping Los Angeles rally from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to win 106-101 in overtime.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and 14 rebounds but didn't score in the fourth quarter of the loss, which snapped a six-game winning streak for Portland.

Aldridge has averaged 1.3 points and shot 2 of 14 (14.3 percent) in his last six fourth quarters versus Los Angeles.

Bryant called last month's victory a "playoff type of test," and there's certainly a chance these teams could be first-round opponents. Portland is currently sixth in the Western Conference while the Lakers are second, just one game up on third-place Dallas.

The Trail Blazers (40-29) could realistically finish as high as fifth, and took a big step toward that goal Saturday. While Denver lost in Miami, Portland beat Philadelphia 110-101 to pull within one-half game of the Nuggets entering this visit to Staples Center.

"We know it's going to be a tough one," coach Nate McMillan said of facing the Lakers. "We haven't beaten them this year … and they're defending champions, so we know it's going to be a tough challenge."

The Blazers have won three straight and seven of nine overall, with Wesley Matthews' shooting a big reason why. He's averaged 19.8 points and hit 20 of 32 (62.5 percent) from 3-point range over his last five contests.

Getting Matthews plenty of good looks from beyond the arc has been critical for Portland. It's 11-3 this season when Matthews attempts at least seven 3-pointers.

If Lakers center Andrew Bynum plays, Aldridge, Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby could have their hands full inside.

Bynum, who's averaged 15.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in his last seven games, was ejected in the fourth quarter Friday for a flagrant-2 foul against Minnesota's Michael Beasley.

The league office looks at all flagrant-2s to determine whether they're worthy of a suspension, but is waiting until Sunday to review Bynum's foul.

Copyright 2011 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

Game Announcements
  • Andrew Bynum has been suspended for two games for his flagrant foul, starting tonight's game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

  • Spero Dedes will not be announcing tonight's game. In his place, Bill MacDonald will be calling the game on 710 ESPN with Mychal Thompson.

Lakers Kobe Bryant (sprained left knee) is probable.
Devin Ebanks
(stress fracture, left tibia) is out.
Theo Ratliff
(left knee surgery) is out.

Greg Oden (left knee) is out.
Elliot Williams (right knee) is out.

11/07 - POR @ LAL W 121-96
02/23 - LAL @ POR W 106-101
03/20 - POR @ LAL
04/08 - LAL @ POR

The most obvious difference in the Blazers from the team we beat in overtime a month ago is the addition of Gerald Wallace. Gone are Przybilla, Cunningham and Marks. They have also added C. Johnson and J. Collins. Johnson is long, athletic and will run the floor. He will come to block shots and we must keep him off the offensive boards. We need to watch Wallace leaking out in transition. The other main difference is that Roy and Camby are back from their injuries (the game on 2/23 was Roy's first game back). The addition of these two players as well as Wallace has given Coach McMillan the ability to put a wide variety of lineups on the floor in order to create favorable matchups or go with the hot hand(s).

Read Full Scouting Report @ Lakers Courtside Connection


The Lakers currently lead their season series with Portland 2-0 after dropping last season's series with the Trail Blazers 1-2. The Lakers last won a series against Portland in 2004-05 and overall, have taken just two season series from the Trail Blazers in the 1990's and 2000's combined (2004-05: 2-1 and 1992-93: 3-2). This will be the 198th meeting between the Trail Blazers and Lakers with Los Angeles leading the all-time series 111-86. The Lakers are 5-5 against the Trail Blazers in their last 10 overall games. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 16-5 against the Trail Blazers all- time and have won 15 of their last 18. After snapping a nine-game losing streak at the Rose Garden last season (2/6/10 at Portland, first win there since 2/23/05), the Lakers have won two straight in Portland but are still just 4-15 in their last 19 regular season games in Rip City. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 20-20 against the Trail Blazers during the regular season. In their first meeting of the 2008 season, the Lakers held the Blazers to their lowest scoring total in series history in a 96-76 opening night victory 10/28/08. In 2006-07, Kobe Bryant scored 65 points March 16 at STAPLES Center, surpassing his own series record of 50 points established at home back on April 14, 2006 (on the same day Bryant surpassed Elgin Baylor's single-season franchise scoring record of 2,719 points). In 50 career games against Portland including 44 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 27.5 points against the Trail Blazers. In his last 19 regular season games against the Blazers, Bryant is averaging 32.4 points (616). Portland guard Rudy Fernandez played for Spain internationally along with Pau Gasol. Fernandez was on the 2008 Olympic silver medal team with Gasol while both also played together on the gold medal winning Spanish 2006 FIBA World Championships team. Portland guard and Los Angeles native Andre Miller (Verbum Dei HS) and Lamar Odom were teammates with the LA Clippers during the 2002-03 season while Blazers forward Gerald Wallace and Shannon Brown played together in Charlotte for the first half of the 2008-09 season.

With a Memphis loss to Indiana on Saturday, March 19, the Lakers will officially clinch a playoff spot, becoming the second team in the West to do so. Additionally, with a victory over Portland on Sunday, March 20 OR a Phoenix loss to the Clippers in a game preceding the Lakers at STAPLES Center the same day, the Lakers would clinch their 22nd Pacific Division title (41st season in Division) as well as no worse than a #4 seed in the Western Conference for the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Teams 1 to 4 in each conference are the three division winners and the team with the next best regular-season record, with the seeding of these four teams determined by regular-season record. The playoff-seedings of teams 5 to 8 are based upon regular-season record. A Lakers loss AND Suns win is the only scenario in which the Lakers would not clinch the Division title outright. The Lakers have already clinched a tie for the Pacific Division title with the tiebreaker yet to be settled (head-to-head, then division record). The Lakers lead Phoenix 2-1 with one game remaining in the season series and also have a better division record (9-3) than the Suns (7-5).

Should they clinch, the Lakers would become the 1st team in the West to clinch their division and second to clinch a playoff spot (San Antonio). It would mark the Lakers 58th postseason appearance in 63 NBA seasons as well as their 30th playoff berth in 32 seasons since Dr. Jerry Buss purchased the team prior to the 1979-80 season. Last season, the Lakers clinched a playoff berth on March 19th with a victory over Minnesota and a Rockets loss to Boston but didn't clinch the Division until April 3rd.

With the Lakers win at Dallas on March 12th, Phil Jackson earned his 600th career regular season victory in Los Angeles. Jackson is now the fifth coach in NBA history to win at least 600 games with one franchise, joining Jerry Sloan (1,127 with Utah), Red Auerbach (795 with Boston), Gregg Popovich (791 with San Antonio) and Red Holzman (613 with New York). Including Jackson, only 22 coaches in NBA history have won 600 career regular season games, let alone with one franchise. Jackson, who established the Lakers franchise record for regular season coaching wins in February of 2010 (534th victory 2/3/10 vs. Charlotte), is the only coach in league history to win better than 70 percent of his games (1,147-480, .705). He currently ranks 5th all-time in regular season victories, 11th in regular season games coached, 1st in playoff games coached (323), 1st in playoff games won (225) and 1st in playoff win percentage (.697). The fastest coach to 1,100 victories, Jackson earned induction in his first year of consideration for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and was enshrined on September 7, 2007.


In the Lakers March 8th victory at Atlanta, Andrew Bynum posted 16 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots but despite that physical performance, did not attempt a free throw. In doing so, Bynum was the first Lakers' player in more than 25 years to register at least 15 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in a regular-season or playoff game in which he did not go to the charity stripe. The last Laker to post a similar performance without going to the foul line was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game Two of the 1985 NBA Finals at Boston (30 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks in a 109-102 win).*

Just over a week removed from passing Elvin Hayes (27,313) for 7th on the NBA's all-time scoring list 2/27 at Oklahoma City, Kobe Bryant passed Moses Malone (27,409) for 6th on the all-time list with a free throw in the second quarter of the Lakers 3/8 victory at Atlanta. Earlier this season, Bryant moved past Hall-of-Famers Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946) 1/28 vs. Sacramento, Oscar Robertson (26,710) 1/7 vs. New Orleans, Dominique Wilkins (26,668) 1/4 vs. Detroit and John Havlicek (26,395) 12/10 at Chicago on the all-time list. Next on the all-time list ahead of Bryant (27,497) are Shaquille O'Neal (5th/28,590), Wilt Chamberlain (4th/31,419), Michael Jordan (3rd/32,292), Karl Malone (2nd/36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st/38,387). Among the top six scorers in NBA history, five have worn the Lakers uniform.

Bryant has been steadily moving up the list over the past few years. Earlier this season, with 23 points at Chicago (12/10/10), he passed John Havlicek (26,395) for 11th. Last season, he passed Alex English (25,613), Reggie Miller (25,279), Jerry West (25,192), Patrick Ewing (24,815) and Allen Iverson (24,368). In passing West with a slam dunk at the 4:14 mark of the third quarter February 1, 2010 at Memphis, finishing the game with 44 points (West's retired number), Bryant became the leading scorer in Lakers franchise history. In 2008-09, Bryant passed Gary Payton (21,813) and Hall-of-Famers Charles Barkley (23,757), Robert Parish (23,334), Adrian Dantley (23,177), Elgin Baylor (23,149), Clyde Drexler (22,195) and Larry Bird (21,791).

In their victory over the Spurs on March 6th at AT&T Center, the Lakers closed out the first quarter with a 26-5 run to take a 34-13 lead en route to a 99-83 victory against San Antonio. This marked only the second time in the Spurs' 36 seasons in the NBA that they were outscored by more than 20 points in the first quarter of a home game. The first was a 122-117 overtime loss to the Rockets in January 1989. Additionally, the Lakers increased their lead to 28 at the half, the first time in which the Spurs have ever trailed by at least 28 points at the half at home in franchise history. The last time the Spurs were down by 28+ points at the half in any game was January 20, 1990 at Denver (Nuggets 69, Spurs 40).*

The Lakers also outscored the Spurs by 29 points with Tim Duncan on the floor, his worst plus/minus since posting a -29 against the Lakers on November 28, 2003. Duncan finished 1-for-7 from the field for the second time this season, the other coming 12/28 against the Lakers as well. Prior to this season, Duncan had only two home games in his entire career in which he had one field goal or less. (ESPN Stats & Information).

Kobe Bryant's 24 points in the Lakers victory over the Clippers (2/25) took him over the 1,500-point mark for the 11th consecutive season, marking the longest such streak by an NBA player since Karl Malone reached that milestone in 12 straight seasons (1986-87 to 1997-98).*

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