NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, February 20th (All times eastern)
Portland Trail Blazers (17-15) at Los Angeles Lakers (18-13), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers will attempt to put some off-the-court turmoil in the rearview mirror tonight when they host the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center.
Bryant wasn't happy after the Lakers fell behind by as many as 27 points before losing the back end of a home-and-home set to Phoenix, 102-90, on Sunday in the desert.
The All-Star, who scored 32 points but also committed an NBA season-high 10 turnovers, was especially rankled over his team's treatment of fellow star Pau Gasol, who has been the subject of multiple trade rumors since the preseason.
"I wish management would come out and either trade him or not trade him," Bryant said. "It's tough for a player to give his all when you don't know if you're going to be here tomorrow. I'd rather them not trade him at all. If they're going to do something, I wish they would just do it."
Andrew Bynum and Gasol each contributed double-doubles in Phoenix as Bynum scored 16 and pulled down 10 boards, while Gasol had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Gasol, however, is averaging a career-low 16.6 points.
"It's disappointing whenever you lose, whenever you're down 27 points and you have to try to climb up that hill," said Bryant. "We did a good job in the second half but it was just too deep of a hole."
The Lakers, who had won three straight before faltering in the desert, are an impressive 13-2 as the host on the season and have won 16 of 19 over Portland in SoCal.
The Blazers, meanwhile, haven't been playing all that well lately but are coming off a 97-77 rout of Atlanta in the Rose Garden on Saturday.
Nicolas Batum led all scorers with 22 points in that one while LeMarcus Aldridge recorded a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds in his first game back after missing two straight with a sprained left ankle.
Raymond Felton added 14 points and eight assists as Portland has now won two of its last three after dropping four of the previous five.
"I thought we got in a good rhythm, we made our shots, and we stopped those guys," said Portland head coach Nate McMillan. "We mixed in some zone tonight and we continued to make shots. We continued to defend. In the fourth quarter we did the same thing. Whenever they made a big shot, we responded."
The Blazers, who are just 5-10 on the road, will finish a tough back-to-back stretch tomorrow when they return to Rip City to face off with Southwest Division-leading San Antonio.
02/20 10:36:36 ET