With the road to the playoffs running parallel with the Utah Jazz, every game of late has been the most important game of the season for the Los Angeles Lakers, including Wednesday night's matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers.
This one started out with the stuff nightmares are made of for Lakers fans at the Rose Garden. There was absolutely no defense, shots weren't falling and Portland made three-pointer after three-pointer. The Trail Blazers had a 10-2 lead that became a 22-12 lead less than six minutes into the first quarter.
It was obvious early on that defense wasn't an option—we were going to see a shootout between Damian Lillard and Kobe Bryant for the duration. By the end of the third, it was a two-point game (90-88, Portland) with Kobe up to 39 points and Lillard keeping pacing at 34.
Down the stretch, Los Angeles didn't exactly move away from Kobe, he merely was no longer the lone option.
Pau Gasol turned into Steve Nash, Dwight Howard made his alley-oops, and Steve Blake did his best Moses Malone impersonation, getting huge offensive rebounds in the final minutes for Los Angeles.
Kobe scored a season high (and the high mark for visitors in the Rose Garden) with 47 points, and the Lakers took home the crucial 113-106 win.