Lakers 116, Trail Blazers 111, OT
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Kobe Bryant had enough after seven straight losses by the Los Angeles Lakers. He took matters into his own hands against the Portland Trail Blazers and left the court with the fourth highest-scoring game in franchise history.
Bryant scored 24 of his 65 points in the fourth quarter and added nine more in overtime, powering the Lakers to a 116-111 victory on Friday night.
Last season’s scoring champ shot 23-for-39 from the field, 8-for-12 from 3-point range and 11-for-12 from the free-throw line.
“My daughter is outside waiting for me, and I’m sure she doesn’t give a damn about what just happened. She just wants to watch Care Bears,” Bryant said with a grin. “I’m just happy we won. We needed to get this one. We just had to win this game and get back on track, just for a morale standpoint. We’re at a point now where everybody’s a little beat up.”
It was the second-highest scoring game of Bryant’s career and his third with 60 or more points—including an 81-point outing against Toronto on Jan. 22, 2006, at Staples Center. He also had 62 against Dallas on Dec. 20, 2005, at Los Angeles. The All-Star MVP has 15 games with 50 or more points, including four this season. The Lakers are 11-4 when he cracks the 50-point plateau.
“I had to come out aggressive and assert myself, just because our confidence was a little shaky,” Bryant said. “We needed a breakout game. And it’s my job as a leader to kind of read what we need as a team. And sometimes, me taking over games like this instills confidence in us all.”
Bryant’s point total was the highest against the Trail Blazers, one more than Rick Barry’s previous record. He averaged 35 points in his previous six games against Portland, including a 50-point effort on April 14, 2006.
“Kobe Bryant made big shots. He made tough shots,” said Zach Randolph, who led Portland with 31 points. “If he would have missed one, it probably would have given us a chance.”
Bryant got the Lakers going in overtime with a pair of free throws and a 14-foot running jumper. His 3-point shot broke a 108-all tie with 44 seconds to go, and he capped it with a pair of free throws with 17.1 seconds to go.
“That finish was incredible,” Phil Jackson said after his longest losing streak as an NBA head coach ended. “They couldn’t keep the ball out of Kobe’s hands, and they couldn’t keep him from putting that ball in the hoop. He knocked those 3-pointers down. It was remarkable.”
Bryant scored 23 points in the half and made the most spectacular basket of the game—although it didn’t count. The Lakers were trailing 31-27 when Bryant stripped the ball from Brandon Roy, who immediately fouled Bryant to prevent a breakaway. Bryant shot it anyway from about 5 feet behind the midcourt line— and it went in to the delight of the sellout crowd.
“That was a good indication that I was hot tonight,” Bryant said with a laugh. “You throw something up like that and it goes in, that’s a pretty good indication that your fingers are burning a little bit. I asked for it, but they said it came a little too late.”
Portland’s Travis Outlaw, who played less than 8 minutes in the first three quarters and had only one point, scored 10 points during a 3:34 span of the fourth to help Portland grab an 83-79 lead.
Bryant made eight shots from 18 feet or farther during his fourth-quarter surge to keep the Lakers close—including four from 3-point range. Two came 52 seconds apart, slicing Portland’s lead to 96-95 with 49 seconds remaining. His last 3-pointer tied it at 98 with 17.2 seconds left.
“Kobe just made MVP-type plays,” Roy said. “He made every shot down the stretch. We were trying to do things to stop him. It was a great game to play in. But we need to figure out a way to stop great players down the stretch.”
Portland called a time out to set up a possible winning shot, but Randolph missed an off-balance 3-pointer with Maurice Evans’ hand in his face, forcing overtime.
Lamar Odom had 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists for Los Angeles in his second game back in the lineup, after sitting out the previous five because of a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
Ime Udoka had 19 points for the Blazers, who have lost five of their last six and three straight. Portland was missing Raef LaFrentz, Darius Miles and Joel Pryzbilla, who left the Feb. 21 game against the Lakers with a sore left knee and underwent arthroscopic surgery on March 6.
The Blazers, who shot a season-best .597 from the field against the Lakers in a 112-108 victory on Feb. 21 at Staples Center, trailed 46-43 at halftime in the rematch despite a 15-0 run that gave them a nine-point lead in the first quarter.
Bryant was called for a foul while jockeying with Randolph for position away from the ball with 3:21 left in the half and the Lakers ahead 36-34. Bryant argued with referee Sean Corbin and received a technical foul, which was converted by Randolph.
“It’s been frustrating,” said Bryant, who barely avoided his third one-game suspension of the season after smacking Philadelphia’s Kyle Korver in the face last week. “People want to say I’m a dirty player, and to me it’s just absolutely absurd and ridiculous. I just want to put all that stuff behind us and just move on from it.”
Saturday marks the 34th anniversary of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 50-point game against the Lakers, for Milwaukee in the Bucks’ 123-107 loss at the Forum. He had eight 50-point games in his NBA career. … The Lakers didn’t get back to Los Angeles until about 6 a.m. local time following Thursday’s game at Denver. Shortly after takeoff, their chartered plane had to go back to the airport because of limited cabin pressure. The change in planes delayed the team’s return by about 4 hours.