Gameday: Trail Blazers 106, Lakers 113

GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Los Angeles Lakers 33 28 27 25 113
Play by Play Portland Trail Blazers 41 28 21 16 106

Lakers vs. Trail Blazers
Lakers Back In Eighth
Kobe's Buckets vs. Blazers
Kobe Plays Tough Defense
Howard Down the Lane

Bryant has 47 in Lakers' 113-106 over Blazers


Posted Apr 11 2013 12:57AM

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 47 points and the Los Angeles Lakers pulled closer to a playoff berth with a 113-106 victory over the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

The Lakers moved a game up on the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Portland, missing the playoffs for the second straight season, has lost nine straight, the most since an 11-game skid in the 2005-06 season. Rookie Damian Lillard led the Blazers with a career-high 38 points.

Pau Gasol had 23 points, seven rebounds and nine assists, while Dwight Howard added 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers. Bryant was 18 of 18 from the free throw line.

The Lakers finish the season off with three games at home, all against playoff-bound teams: Golden State, San Antonio and Houston.

Gasol knotted the game at 96 with a layup and a jumper with 7:09 left. After Lillard's 15-footer, Gasol added another jumper to tie it again. His layup gave the Lakers a 102-100 edge before Bryant hit a pair of free throws and added a 23-foot jump shot with 4:09 left to make it 106-100.

Howard's alley-oop dunk from Gasol with 53 seconds left made it 110-104 and all but sealed it.

The deck was stacked from the start against the Blazers, who started four rookies for the first time in the team's history.

Portland was without starters Wesley Matthews (ankle), J.J. Hickson (back) and Nicolas Batum (right shoulder). As a result, two-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge was the only veteran starting with rookie forward Victor Claver, guards Lillard and Will Barton, and center Meyers Leonard.

Matthews injured his right ankle in Portland's 96-91 loss to Dallas on Sunday, while Batum was missing his fourth straight game with a sore shoulder. Hickson says he's been dealing with a painful lower back for the past several games.

But the rookies got off to an astonishingly fast start, going up 17-8 on Lillard's fadeaway jumper. Lillard banked in a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 22-12 and the Blazers made eight of their first nine shots from the field.

He hit another 3 to make it 35-25 and the Blazers went on to lead 41-33 at the end of the first, their most points in the opening quarter this season.

The Lakers chipped away at the lead and pulled within 48-43 on former Blazer Steve Blake's 3-pointer. Bryant's long jumper on the baseline closed Los Angeles to 50-48.

The Blazers led 69-61 at the break, but the Lakers opened the second half with a 10-0 run capped by Howard's hook shot to pull ahead 71-69, their first lead of the game. Howard's layup extended the lead to 78-71.

The Blazers were hurt when Claver rolled his ankle late in the third quarter and retreated to the locker room, but they stayed on the Lakers' heels, coming within 86-85 on Eric Maynor's running jumper and pulling in front on Luke Babbit's 3 pointer.

Maynor's fadeaway made it 95-90 for the Blazers.

Lillard was awarded the NBA's Community Assist award for March because of his anti-bullying campaign. He is the fourth rookie to win the honor, and first since Atlanta's Al Horford in 2008. More than 5,000 fans have signed a pledge to help end bullying as part of Lillard's "Respect" program. ... Lillard became second Portland rookie to go over 500 assists. Kelvin Ransey had 555 in the 1980-81 season. ... The Blazers are 5-10 in the second game of back-to-backs this season, and have yet to go 2-0 in a set of back-to-backs. ... The Blazers had won three straight and 12 of their last 14 against the Lakers at the Rose Garden.

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

View More Photos

Points Bryant, 47
Rebounds Aldridge (POR), 16
Assists Gasol and Lillard (POR), 9
Blocks Bryant, 4


Mike D'Antoni:

On Kobe Bryant’s performance:
“He played great. I thought a lot of guys contributed. I thought Pau played another great game. He and Dwight are working well [together]. And then Steve Blake came up with two great rebounds and then the steal to get the clear path. He made a couple mistakes that really hurt us, but then he found a way to win the game.”

On what changed in the team’s defense after halftime:
“You have to give Portland credit. They made everything. Lillard… unbelievable. The game that he played was terrific. I thought we got into him a little bit more. We definitely scrambled around a little bit better, and they felt us a little bit in the second half. In the first half they didn’t really feel us, and it almost cost us.”

“The players came off and Kobe wanted to trap and just get into somebody. We were a little lethargic [in the first half], so we went after it. It was a little bit of a risky move. I thought we could get back into it just with tough defense. They wanted to amp it up, and they did.”

On Damian Lillard’s performance:
“That’s about as good as you can get. That’s about as good a rookie as I’ve ever seen. He looks like he’s played 10 years in the league, and at the highest level.”

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.”

Kobe Bryant:

On what changed in the team’s defense after halftime:
“We had to trap Lillard. He’s really, really good, and you can’t expect a player like that to cool off. We had to take the ball out of his hands and make other guys make shots.”

On the challenge of playing 48 minutes:
“Three more [games], and then get a couple days off, hopefully.”

“I didn’t want to. That wasn’t the plan, but Lillard came out and just started torching us. I figured I’d try to keep up the pace. It was like a marathon run where a runner just takes off, and the guy behind him doesn’t really want to chase after him, but he has to just to keep pace.”

On controlling their own fate:
“We haven’t won a back-to-back all year, so it’s good to be in this pressure situation, having to do it and having to keep control of our own destiny.”

On Damian Lillard’s performance:
“He’s fantastic. Really fantastic. It wasn’t a game where he was just hot. A lot of players get hot.”

“I told him he was a bad boy. He was out there cooking with gasoline tonight.”

Pau Gasol:

On how he’s feeling:
“I’m still not 100%, and I won’t be. I know that. At least, conditioning wise, my knees are feeling better. I’m managing it well. I’m getting good rhythm, I’m making good decisions, and my focus is really good right now. We’re just doing whatever it takes to win.”

“I’m happy we won. That’s the best thing. It’s the first back-to-back that we won all season, and it’s about time that we did it.”

On the team moving forward:
“Let’s see if we can get ourselves in a consistent pattern, and not be up and down. Not give up 40-something points in one quarter. Those are the things that we can’t afford. [The Trail Blazers] had uncountable injuries, and they still gave us a hell of a fight.”

Mike Terry Stotts:

“It was a very good effort by our team, but unfortunately we couldn’t pull it out. I was very pleased with our effort from beginning to end. A couple plays down the stretch could have gone either way, a couple shots could have gone either way. For the most part, I thought it was a well-played game against a team that’s pretty hungry to make the playoffs.”

On Kobe’s performance:
“He was on a mission. He played the whole game. Usually, he feels out the game but he came out very aggressive to start. He gets to the line, shoots 18 free throws. He’s just aggressive. What can you say about a 47 point performance? He’s done that before.”

On Lillard’s performance:
“Well he came out really focused. You could tell. He attacked the game from the very beginning, he was very assertive. He’s done it before – not 38 points, but I liked with Wes and Nic out, he knew that we needed the extra scoring and he picked up a lot of the slack.”

On ending Dallas game well and playing well tonight:
“I wouldn’t call it a moral victory, but I’m pleased with the way we competed at the end of the Dallas game and then tonight.”

Damian Lillard:

On mentality coming in:
“We wanted to try to come out and have energy from the beginning, try to end the losing streak. That’s what it’s going to take for us to win the game, we’re going to have to put together a whole 48 minutes with energy, being competitive and playing together. I thought we did that tonight, we just came up short.”

Did you know based on lineup that you would need to have big night scoring?
“I didn’t think I was going to have to carry the load because we had LA out there and he’s our best player. I figured he would have a good game, as usual, but I made the first couple shots and we were playing a fast paced game, trying to run them up and down because they were coming off a back to back. In the flow of the game, I was able to get going. Everybody was telling me to just keep being aggressive and don’t stop attacking. I just kept attacking.

What changed late in game in Lakers’ favor?
“They started to score a little more consistently. In the first half, Kobe missed some shots. He scored a lot of points, but he missed some shots. They swung the ball a lot more in the first half and some guys were missing and we were able to get out in transition. The second half, they started to make shots. They picked up a little longer, they picked up full court sometimes and they were able to slow us down.”

LaMarcus Aldridge:

“We competed and we had a chance to win. They made plays down the stretch and we missed shots down the stretch.

On first half:
“It was Damian versus Kobe. Both of those guys had it going. That was fun to watch. It was fun to be out there.”

On Lillard’s game:
“He made shots, he got to the basket. He made the right reads on his passes. He did everything that he could tonight.”

On Kobe’s performance:
“However old he is, getting 47, that’s impressive. He played the whole game and he just imposed his will on us tonight.”



Posted Apr 10 2013 3:15AM

With the regular season winding down, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers control their own destiny.

Making the playoffs, though, likely won't prove easy with a difficult schedule down the stretch.

Though they are facing a Portland Trail Blazers team riding its longest losing streak in seven seasons, the Lakers are seeking a rare win at the Rose Garden as their postseason push continues Wednesday night just 24 hours after a hard-fought victory.

Los Angeles (41-37) is coming off its fourth win in five games, 104-96 over New Orleans on Tuesday. That result, combined with Utah's loss to Oklahoma City, moved the Lakers into the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

Tuesday's game saw Los Angeles trailing well into the fourth quarter, during which Bryant scored 23 of his 30 points.

"I really was just trying to pace myself," Bryant said. "I know fatigue comes in when you play so many minutes. So, I really just tried to lay back and manage the game and turn it on at the right time."

Pau Gasol added 22 points to go with 11 rebounds, and Metta World Peace played 15 minutes off the bench in his first game after missing six following left knee surgery.

"We just needed this game," Dwight Howard said after scoring 19 points. "It was intense. We got four games left. We control our own destiny."

Los Angeles now sits one-half game ahead of the Jazz, who own the tiebreaker due to a better head-to-head record.

Utah, though, only has three games remaining.

The Lakers, however, are 2-8 on the back end of games on back-to-back nights. While Wednesday's game is their last on the road, the Lakers conclude their schedule against three playoff-bound teams - Golden State, West-leading San Antonio and Houston.

Los Angeles has won back-to-back meetings and four of five against the Trail Blazers (33-44), but they've lost three straight and 12 of 14 at the Rose Garden. Plus, the most recent meeting went down to the wire even though it was at Staples Center, as the Lakers won 111-107 on Feb. 22.

Portland had lost six straight going into that matchup and enters this one having dropped eight in a row. The Blazers have been outscored by an average of 15.8 points during the current skid, their longest since 2005-06.

After trailing by as many as 26 points Sunday against Dallas, Portland clawed its way back to within three with 39 seconds left but lost 96-91.

"That's a step up from what we've been doing. We finished the game better. But I don't believe in moral victories," said star rookie Damian Lillard, who had 15 points on 6-of-19 shooting.

While things aren't looking up for the Blazers, rookie Will Barton proved to be a rare bright spot Sunday, posting season highs of 22 points, 13 rebounds and six assists off the bench.

The second-round pick out of Memphis could draw his first start Wednesday in place of the injured Wesley Matthews (ankle).

"Anytime you're a guy coming off the bench, and you never know when you're going to play, your job is just to stay ready," he said. "Everyone on the team says I've got a special talent. You've just got to wait your turn sometimes."

Besides Matthews' absence, the Blazers could be without Nicolas Batum, who has missed the last three games with a shoulder injury. J.J. Hickson is listed as questionable due to a sore back.

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 .
  #6 Clark SF #18 Claver  
  #16 GasolPF #12 Aldridge  
  #12 Howard C #21 Hickson  
  #24 Bryant SG #5 Barton  
  #5 Blake PG #0 Lillard  

Lakers Kobe Bryant
(bone spur, left foot) is probable.
Pau Gasol
(strained plantar fascia, right foot) is probable.
Jordan Hill
(torn labrum, left hip/herniated disc) is out.
Dwight Howard
(torn labrum, right shoulder) is probable.
Antawn Jamison
(sprained right wrist) is probable.
Steve Nash
(strained right hamstring) is out.
Metta World Peace
(lateral meniscus tear, left knee) is probable.

Mavericks JJ Hickson
(back) is questionable.
Nicolas Batum
(right shoulder) is doubtful.
Wesley Matthews
(right ankle) will not play.
Elliot Williams
(left Achilles tendon) will not play.

10/31 - LAL 106 @ POR 116
12/28 - POR 87 @ LAL 104
02/22 - POR 107 @ LAL 111
04/10 - LAL @ POR

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