Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening home contest against Portland, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Clark and Howard
Blazers: D. Lillard, W. Matthews, N. Batum, L. Aldridge, J.J. Hickson
7:35 It was the Blazers with the quick start, hitting 3 of 4 shots to open a 7-2 lead, but the Lakers settled in from there, countering with seven makes in their first 10 attempts, including back-to-back triples from Kobe Bryant and Earl Clark that allowed a 16-12 lead. It was just the second three-pointer for Kobe in the last 15 games, an odd stat for sure, though one reason he’s hit so many fewer is he’s taking only 2.2 per game in February, compared to 5.5 in January and 6.9 in December.
4:33 Speaking of three-point shooting: Antawn Jamison drained his first attempt immediately after checking in, to join Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks at 40 percent or better in the 11 games since Blake returned from injury. Jamison entered the game at 39.4 percent, Meeks 41.5 percent and Blake 40.0 percent. Jamison added two free throws after his triple to put the Lakers up 24-23. By quarter’s end, L.A. held a 30-28 lead, with Kobe’s 11 points (5 of 9 field goals) and four Nash assists.
8:46 After missing badly on his first shot from three, Metta World Peace atoned with not only a block and a steal on D, but a make on his second attempt, putting L.A. up 37-32 as the second unit continued its strong play of late.
0:57.5 The building got quiet as Howard appeared to tweak the torn labrum in his right shoulder, with Blazers reserve Victor Claver hacking at him in the same motion that’s caused the previous problems for Howard. He last tweaked it at Phoenix in late January and subsequently missed three games, but he got up this time and stayed in the game, much to LAL’s relief. Portland, however, ended the half on a 9-2 run to take a 54-53 lead into halftime, L.A. hitting only 36.4 percent of its shots in the second quarter and relaxing a bit on defense.
5:00 It wasn’t a good start to the half from an energy standpoint for the Lakers, and Portland took advantage to lead by as many as six points amidst six LAL turnovers in the first six minutes of the period. Howard looked to be favoring the shoulder, missing four free throws and his only field goal attempt, while Nash continued an extremely rare poor shooting night by falling to just 1 of 9 on the evening. Bryant was keeping ‘em in it, though, reaching 24 points on 10 of 15 field goals as L.A. rallied to cut the margin to two at 73-71.
0:00 Bryant continued his fantastic individual quarter, making 7 of 8 shots to reach 29 points, 18 in the period alone, to get the Lakers within two after three despite continued strong offense from the Blazers, who got 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting from Batum and 13 points with seven assists from rookie Damian Lillard, holding the fort after Aldridge went out with four fouls midway through the period.
7:19 The offense was really clicking for the Lakers group of Blake-Meeks-MWP-Clark-Howard, with Meeks totaling six points, Howard converting a jump hook and MWP a driving layup to 95-92 lead early in the fourth, as Bryant and Nash got some extra rest. However, a quick 5-0 Blazers run capped by unheralded Will Barton’s and-1 gave Portland a 97-95 lead with 6:15 to play.
4:47 World Peace has struggled with his shot of late, but he made a fantastic individual play on D to get a steal, and converted a tough and-1 on the other end to put the Lakers up 100-99. Lillard scored on consecutive plays, but Kobe answered each, the second plus a foul, to reach 36 points on 15 of 21 shooting.
0:00 Nash, missing all but one of his first 10 shots, hit a big one with 1:44 to go to break a 105-all tie, and Bryant closed things out at the free throw line, sinking all four (9 of 9) to cap an impressive 15 of 23 shooting night towards 40 points, his fifth time this season hitting that mark, and first of 2013. The final was 111-107, L.A. getting a much-needed win heading into a two-game road trip. Howard had a 19-point, 16-board double-double while playing through shoulder pain, and Jamison and Meeks combined for 26 points off the pine. We’ll see you in Dallas on Sunday, folks.