Bryant has hit for at least 40 in his last seven games and has reached 35 points or more in 11 straight contests. The last time the Lakers’ superstar did not score 35 was when he was held to 11 in a loss to New Jersey on January 24.
Los Angeles has played the last three games without Shaquille O’Neal, who hopes to return on Friday. O’Neal was out nursing a sore left knee and right big toe.
The Lakers are expected to be without forward Samaki Walker, who is suffering from a sprained right ankle. Walker suffered the injury in Wednesday’s 93-87 victory at Utah.
Bryant carried the Lakers to that victory one day after a 52-point performance in a double-overtime victory over Houston. He had exactly 40 against the Jazz.
Bryant is two games shy of Michael Jordan’s run of nine straight 40-point efforts in the 1986-87 season. Wilt Chamberlain had a pair of 14-game stretches of 40-point outputs in the 1961-62 season.
More important for Los Angeles, it has won nine of 11 games to pull even with Houston for eight place in the Eastern Conference.
Portland has loftier regular-season goals and trails Sacramento by 1 1/2 games for the lead in the Pacific division. The Trail Blazers have won three straight and seven out of nine after a 125-98 rout of Golden State on Wednesday.
Bonzi Wells scored 26 of his 29 points in the first half as the Trail Blazers quickly turned the game into a rout. Portland opened up a 44-21 lead after one quarter and never looked back.
Portland and Los Angeles split a pair of games in the first week of the season, with each team winning at home. O’Neal missed both contests.