Kobe scores 40, Lakers hold off BlazersPosted by Inside Hoops
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.
Howard, looking for his sixth rebounding title in seven seasons, came in averaging an NBA-best and 11.8 boards per game. The Lakers are 19-12 when he gets double digits in rebounds, and 11 of those losses have come on nights when he grabbed 14 or more. They wasted 26 boards in a home loss to Denver on Jan. 6, and 20 in a Dec. 11 loss at Cleveland.
Antawn Jamison scored 16 points off the bench, helping to hand Portland its season-worst seventh straight loss. The Trail Blazers have lost five straight road games and 10 of their last 11 away from the Rose Garden.
J.J. Hickson had 22 points and 11 rebounds for Portland, and Nicolas Batum also scored 22. Two-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 15 points in 34 foul-plagued minutes after picking up his fifth personal with 8 minutes remaining.
Damian Lillard added 19 points. All of Portland’s starters scored in double figures, while the bench produced just 14 points.
– Reported by Joe Resnick of the Associated Press