Lakers lose to Portland Trail Blazers
Portland Trail Blazers 91, Lakers 88 (final)
The return of Kobe Bryant from a two-game absence because of swelling in his right knee didn't help the Lakers break free of their doldrums.
They lost to the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center Sunday, giving the Lakers a 3-6 record in their last nine games.
The Lakers lost after Pau Gasol (23 points, 12 rebounds) missed a game-tying three-pointer as time expired.
The Lakers (56-23) now have the third-best record in the NBA, 4 1/2 games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have the best record in the NBA, and one game behind the Orlando Magic, which has the second-best mark.
The Lakers have two regular-season games left, Tuesday against the Sacramento Kings and Wednesday against the Clippers.
Bryant finished with 20 points, including a three-pointer and a three-point play the old-fashion way that gave the Lakers an 87-86 lead.
But Bryant was eight for 23 from the fiell and he missed two free throws with 6.9 seconds left and the Lakers trailing, 88-87.
The Lakers got the offensive rebound off Bryant's miss.
But Derek Fisher made just one of two free throws to tie the score at 88-88.
Then Fisher fouled Martell Webster while shooting a three-pointer with 3.1 seconds left.
Webster made all three free throws for the final margin.
As of right now, the Lakers would play the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs if the playoffs started today.
Portland All-Star guard Brandon Roy didn't play in the second half because of a sore right knee suffered in the second quarter.
The Trail Blazers said Roy will get an MRI exam Sunday night or Monday.
Portland will host Oklahoma City on Monday night in an important game to determine playoff positioning.
-- Broderick Turner
Photo: Lakers point guard Derek Fisher tries to draw the foul against Blazers point guard Andre Miller during physical play in the first quarter Sunday. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times