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(Monday, February 20th)
Final Score: LA Lakers 103, Portland 92
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - What a difference a day makes.
Kobe Bryant, just 24 hours after expressing his displeasure regarding the Lakers' handling of star forward Pau Gasol, was all smiles after scoring 28 points in Los Angeles' 103-92 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.
Gasol, mired in trade talks throughout the season, totaled 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Andrew Bynum added 14 and 19 in the win, the Lakers' fourth in five games.
Steve Blake scored 14 of his 17 points in a first half that saw the hosts lead by as many as 30. The Blazers' comeback ultimately came up short and they fell for the fourth time in six games.
"In the first half, that's the best we played, especially defensively," Bryant said. "We came out with great energy."
LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum paced Portland with 18 points apiece.
Prior to the game, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak responded to Bryant's comments by saying it would serve no purpose to announce publicly whether or not the team will deal Gasol.
A roster shakeup didn't appear necessary the way the Lakers opened Monday's contest.
Portland put itself in a hole in the first quarter, hitting just 3-of-17 (18 percent) from the field. The Lakers had separate runs of 10 and 13 points during the Blazers' slow start and cruised to a healthy 29-7 lead.
"We didn't come out ready to play. I thought we started the All-Star break early," Blazers head coach Nate McMillan said.
Blake began the second quarter with a pair of three-pointers, and two Bynum free throws pushed the margin to 30 a little later.
Batum halted an eight-minute scoreless drought with a jumper, but the Blazers were still down, 52-30, at halftime.
Seven Portland three-pointers in the third, including Batum's trey in the closing seconds, helped close the gap to 80-66 with 12 minutes to play.
The Blazers had several chances to pull within single digits in the fourth. Jamal Crawford turned the ball over trailing 84-74, and the Lakers scored the next six points, going up 90-74 on Bryant's jumper at the midway point.
With 3 1/2 minutes to play, Wesley Matthews missed a three-pointer that could have cut the deficit to nine, and again LA responded with six of the next seven points to pull away for good.
The Lakers close out the first half of the season with a visit to Dallas on Wednesday, while Portland hosts the Spurs on Tuesday in its final game before the All-Star break...The Lakers improved to 14-2 at home...The Lakers are 5-0 when scoring over 100 points...The Blazers announced Monday that center Greg Oden will miss the remainder of the season after having microfracture surgery on his left knee. This was the fifth surgery the 7-foot Oden has endured since he was taken by the Blazers with the first pick in the 2007 draft.
02/21 02:14:31 ET
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