Lakers defeat the Trail Blazers, 103-92
The Lakers showed again why they need to secure homecourt advantage through as many rounds as possible in the playoffs: They're nearly unbeatable at Staples Center.
They are now an impressive 14-2 at home after holding off a second-half charge from Portland during a 103-92 victory Monday night at Staples Center.
Kobe Bryant had 28 points on 13-for-26 shooting for the Lakers, who lost most of a 30-point lead before hanging on after the Trail Blazers had closed to within 10 points in the fourth quarter. Andrew Bynum added 14 points and 19 rebounds and Pau Gasol had 16 points and 12 rebounds.
The Lakers reached the 100-point threshold for only the fifth time this season after getting a boost from reserve point guard Steve Blake, who had a season-high 17 points against his former team by making five of six three-pointers.
Now comes a much trickier stretch for the Lakers: back-to-back games on the road against Dallas and Oklahoma City starting Wednesday in Dallas. The Lakers are 5-11 on the road and would like to improve that record at least a smidgen before heading into the All-Star break this weekend.
Lakers 80, Trail Blazers 66 (end of third quarter)
This is how bad things were going for Portland: After Nicolas Batum blocked Steve Blake's shot late in the third quarter, the ball went back to Blake and the Lakers' reserve point guard made a three-pointer.
The Lakers shooting guard scored 11 third-quarter points to increase his total to 22 with 12 minutes remaining. Blake has 17 points against his former team, making six of nine shots and five of six three-point attempts.
Batum has 15 points for the Trail Blazers, who are sticking around despite a dreadful start in which they scored seven points in the first quarter.
Lakers 52, Trail Blazers 30 (halftime)
Send in Luke Walton and Darius Morris. This one's over.
After holding Portland to seven points in the first quarter--the Trail Blazers' lowest output in a first quarter in franchise history--the Lakers led by as many as 30 points in the second quarter.
Portland didn't reach double digits until there were 8 minutes 52 seconds left in the second quarter. That's when Nicolas Batum converted a three-point play, ending an eight-minute scoreless drought for the Trail Blazers and drawing mock applause from Lakers fans.
The Lakers' starters were still on the court at the end of the second quarter, but they don't figure to play much after halftime barring a total implosion. Lakers backup point guard Steve Blake has torched his former team, scoring 14 points on five-for-six shooting, including four for four from behind the three-point arc.
Lakers center Andrew Bynum had a double-double fewer than 15 minutes into the game and has 12 points and 12 rebounds at halftime. Kobe Bryant has 11 points, making five of 12 shots.
Batum has 12 points and LaMarcus Aldridge and Raymond Felton have six apiece for the Trail Blazers, who are shooting a dreadful 30.8%. The Lakers are also outrebounding Portland, 33-19.
Lakers 29, Trail Blazers 7 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers were back home, so it figured that they would be able to put the mess of the previous 24 hours behind them.
Kobe Bryant's dissatisfaction with teammate Pau Gasol's uncertain status as the trade deadline approaches, the team's inability to win on the road ... none of it mattered as the Lakers bolted to an early lead against the seemingly outclassed Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night at Staples Center.
Lakers center Andrew Bynum was particularly active in the early going, scoring three consecutive baskets on a pair of dunks and a layup. Bynum finished the quarter with eight points and nine rebounds, nearly logging a double-double in his first nine minutes before going to the bench. He made all four of his shots.
Bryant also had eight points in the quarter for the Lakers, who were being unselfish, with eight assists on 12 baskets. LaMarcus Aldridge had four points but made two of six shots for the cold-shooting Trail Blazers, who made only 17.6% of their sots on the way to their lowest-scoring quarter of the season.
With trade rumors swirling like a sandstorm around Gasol, General Manager Mitch Kupchak issued a statement before the game acknowledging how discomforting this time of the season can be for players but saying he could not allay their concerns by promising the current roster would remain intact.
“As a former player, I understand how the days leading up to the trade deadline can be nerve-wracking for an NBA player," Kupchak said in the statement. "Nonetheless, as general manager of the Lakers, I have a responsibility to ownership, our fans and the players on this team to actively pursue opportunities to improve the team for this season and seasons to come.
"To say publicly that we would not do this would serve no purpose and put us at a competitive disadvantage. Taking such a course of action at this time would be a disservice to ownership, the team and our many fans."
Gasol had four points, six rebounds and two assists in the first quarter.
Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum gets a rebound in front of teammate Pau Gasol and Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge on Monday night at Staples Center. Credit: Christina House / For The Times