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(Friday, December 28th)
Final Score: LA Lakers 104, Portland 87
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Kobe Bryant netted a game-high 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting as the Los Angeles Lakers thumped the Portland Trail Blazers, 104-87, on Friday at Staples Center.
Bryant added five rebounds and four assists, while Dwight Howard posted a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers, who have won six of their last seven.
Pau Gasol scored 15 points and added nine rebounds, while Steve Nash handed out 10 assists to go with six points in the victory.
"I think our focus was much better on the defensive end," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I'm really happy with the way we defended as a team."
LaMarcus Aldridge hit 12-of-17 shots from the field for a team-high 26 points, while Damian Lillard gave 11 points and four assists for the Blazers, who have lost two of three on the heels of a five-game winning streak.
Will Barton scored 11 points and Nicolas Batum finished with 10 and eight assists in a losing effort.
It was a back-and-forth affair early on as a driving slam by Aldridge pulled the visitors within 8-6, but the Lakers then used a 14-6 push to open a 22-12 advantage with 5:02 to play in the first quarter. Los Angeles held a 34-25 lead heading into the second 12 minutes.
Portland opened the second quarter with a 7-2 spurt to cut the deficit to four, but Jodie Meeks answered with a 3-pointer, then buried another one a few minutes later to put the Lakers ahead, 46-36, with 6:41 on the clock.
A pair of Aldridge free throws trimmed the Los Angeles lead to eight, but then the hosts erupted for a 12-0 surge, widening the advantage to 60-40 with 2:53 to play before the break.
The Blazers closed the half with an 8-2 flurry, but trailed 62-48 at the half.
Portland never got close in the second half, as the home side led, 88-66, after three quarters and pushed the advantage to as many as 27 in the fourth en route to the easy win.
"They played harder than us and made shots," Lillard said. "The game was just in their favor."
Los Angeles shot 46.5 percent from the floor and hammered Portland in the paint, 58-38 ... Former Lakers forward/guard Jamaal Wilkes had his No. 52 jersey retired at halftime ... Los Angeles improved to 3-1 since Nash returned from a broken leg.
12/29 02:09:03 ET
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