The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers by a final score of 111-107 in a back-and-forth contest on Friday night at the Staples Center.
Kobe Bryant guaranteed the Lakers would make the postseason (h/t Sports Illustrated’s Jack McCallum), and they’ve now won two straight games since the All-Star break.
The loss was the seventh consecutive for Portland, and the team is fading quick in the Western Conference standings.
Steve Nash missed a technical free throw, allowing the Trail Blazers to knot things up at 105 with just over two minutes left to play. He bounced back on the next possession, hitting a fadeaway shot after penetrating into the key.
Back-to-back turnovers by Bryant and Nicolas Batum kept the game in Los Angeles’ favor with just 32 seconds left to play. Portland had its chance to tie things up, but LaMarcus Aldridge’s fadeaway jumper came up short. Bryant was fouled after pulling down the rebound and then again on the ensuing inbounds pass. He was clutch at the charity stripe, sinking both of his attempts to put his team ahead by four points.
The Trail Blazers didn’t give up, though, as Batum nailed what looked to have been an incredible fading three-pointer. It was ruled a two-pointer, though, following an official review.
Bryant sunk two more free throws, and the Lakers finished things off after Damian Lillard's missed three-ball fell into Bryant's hands.
Bryant led all scorers with 40 points on 15-of-23 shooting from the field. Dwight Howard played well, too, scoring 19 points and snagging 16 boards in the big win. Antawn Jamison dropped in 16 points in just 21 minutes off of the bench for L.A.
All five of Portland’s starters were in double digits. J.J. Hickson was the top performer for the losing team, finishing with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Player of the Game: Kobe Bryant
The Black Mamba put on his big boy pants in the second half after a pedestrian 11-point first-half performance. Bryant finished the game seven rebounds, four assists and two steals to go along with his game-high 40 points.
What’s Next for the Portland Trail Blazers?
Portland's Friday night loss in Los Angeles was its seventh in a row. It will head back home to host the Boston Celtics in a Sunday evening (9 p.m. ET) West Cost clash.
What’s Next for the Los Angeles Lakers?
The Lakers will take to the road to take on the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. (ET). Los Angeles is looking to win its third straight since the All-Star break.