LOS ANGELES (AP)—Kobe Bryant had 23 points, 11 rebounds and five assists Tuesday night, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 96-76 season-opening victory over the Portland Trail Blazers and spoiling rookie Greg Oden’s debut, which was cut short by another injury.
Bryant orchestrated a well-balanced offense for the Lakers, who also played tenacious defense.
Pau Gasol had all of his 15 points in the first half as Los Angeles moved in front to stay. Trevor Ariz added 11 points and Andrew Bynum, back after sitting out the last part of last season with a knee injury, had eight points and three rebounds.
Oden’s first NBA game didn’t last long; the 20-year-old center left the game late in the first half with an injured right foot after taking four shots and going scoreless. He had five rebounds, one turnover, blocked one shot and picked up two fouls while playing 12:51.
X-rays were negative and the injury was diagnosed as a sprain. Oden will undergo an MRI on Wednesday.
Oden, taken by Portland with the first pick in the 2007 draft, missed all last season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee.
The Lakers were in control of the game virtually from the start, but the Trail Blazers briefly made it interesting when they cut the deficit to 49-41 early in the third quarter. Bryant, however, hit a 3, made a reverse layup, then sank four consecutive free throws to build the lead back to 17 points, and Los Angeles led 72-53 heading into the final 12 minutes.
The Lakers were Western Conference champions last season and lost to Boston in the NBA finals.
Los Angeles opened a 46-24 lead when Bryant pulled up and hit an 11-footer with 3:06 left in the second quarter and was up 49-34 at halftime.
Gasol had 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting by the break, the only Laker in double figures. Bryant, who had six points, did have five assists.
Outlaw and Fernandez were high scorers for Portland with nine points each in the first half, when the Trail Blazers shot just 31 percent from the field. They finished at 34.5, to the Lakers’ 47.
Gasol had nine points in the first quarter to help Los Angeles pull out to a 24-14 lead by the end of the period. The Blazers went 7-of-24, including Brandon Roy missing all six of his shots, in the first 12 minutes and no Portland player had more than four points.
He missed his first nine but finished 5-of-15 for 14 points.
Along with the usual cast of celebritiess that included actors Jack Nicholson and Denzel Washington, soccer’s David Beckham was sitting courtside. … Bynum averaged 13.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks and shot a league-best 63.6 percent from the floor in 35 games before injuring his knee. … Portland, coming off a .500 season, hasn’t made the playoffs since 2002-03, the league’s longest current streak. … Late in the first quarter, the Lakers’ Lamar Odom drove the lane, glanced to his right and whipped a perfect pass to Sasha Vujacic in the corner. Only Vujacic was in his warmup jacket beyond the sideline and had stood up from the bench to watch Odom go to the hoop. Vujacic caught the ball and smiled, and Odom could only grin sheepishly.