Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Kobe's 47 lift Lakers to key win

The SportsXchange

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Kobe Bryant's legs aren't young nor, at this point of the season, well-rested.

You could have fooled just about anyone who saw him pour in a season-high 47 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a critical 113-106 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night at the Rose Garden.

"He imposed his will on us tonight," Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge said after the 34-year-old Bryant went the distance. The Lakers (42-37) have a one-game lead over Utah (41-38) for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference with three games to play.

Bryant's 48-minute stint -- which included eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and four blocked shots with only one turnover -- came on the heels of a 40-minute performance in the Lakers' win at New Orleans on Tuesday night.

"Three more (games), and then get a couple of days off, hopefully," said Bryant, who hit 14 of 27 shots and all 18 of his free throws.

Bryant and Portland rookie Damian Lillard -- who scored a season-high 38 points to go with nine assists -- waged a personal duel, especially through the early going, with Lillard coming out in torrid fashion. Each player scored 17 points in the first quarter as Portland took a 41-33 lead.

"Lillard came out and just started torching us," Bryant said. "I figured I'd try to keep the pace. It was like a marathon run, where a runner takes off and the guy behind him doesn't really want to chase him but has to just to keep pace.

"He's fantastic, really fantastic. I told him he was a bad boy. He was out there cooking with gasoline tonight."

Lillard, a 6-foot-3 point guard out of Weber State destined to be the NBA Rookie of the Year, and Bryant were matched up on each other a good portion of the game.

"There was a lot of pride involved, him being a Hall of Fame shooting guard, me being a rookie who is not going to back down," said Lillard, who shot 12-for-25 from the field, 5-for-11 from 3-point range and 9-for-9 from the free-throw line. "I scored some points, and he took the challenge to guard me. Will (Barton) picked up two fouls, and I decided I was going to pick (Bryant) up. That's just what it turned into. It wasn't a duel between us. It's just how the game played out."

Lakers forward Pau Gasol contributed 23 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, and Dwight Howard had 20 point and 10 boards.

Aldridge collected 17 points and 16 rebounds for the Trail Blazers (33-45), who lost for the ninth straight time.

Los Angeles used a 10-0 run to start the third quarter to go in front 71-69 for its first lead of the game. The Lakers extended the spurt to 17-2 for a 78-71 edge before the Blazers clawed back with a 7-0 roll of their own to tie the score.

Luke Babbitt's fourth 3-pointer of the game gave Portland the lead at 88-86 late in the quarter. The Blazers took a 90-88 advantage into the final period.

Portland was on top 95-90 with nine minutes left, but the Lakers, with Bryant heading the charge, outscored the Blazers 16-5 over the next five minutes to seize a lead with 106-100 with 4:09 to play.

The Blazers led 69-61 after a rollicking first half that saw both teams light up the scoreboard and Bryant and Lillard both take star turns.

Bryant had 28 points in the half, sinking nine of 17 shots from the field and 10 of 10 at the line. Lillard scored 25 points on 9-for-14 shooting -- 4-for-7 from 3-point range -- and had time to hand out seven assists.

"The first half was Damian vs. Kobe," Aldridge said. "Both of those guys had it going. It was fun to watch. It was fun to be out there."

NOTES: The Lakers are now 5-17 in games at the Rose Garden since 2002. ... Lillard is the first rookie with 38 points and nine assists in a game since Cleveland's LeBron James in March 2004. Lillard is the first player in the NBA this season to record 38 points, nine assists and three steals. ... Lakers point guard Steve Blake had two offensive rebounds in the last two minutes and finished with eight points and seven boards. ... Bryant, who was 1-for-5 from 3-point range, has made just four of his last 33 attempts from beyond the arc. ... Bryant averaged 36.0 points in four games against Portland this season. ... Steve Nash (hamstring) missed his fifth straight game for the Lakers. Coach Mike D'Antoni isn't sure if the veteran point guard will return for Friday's date with the Golden State Warriors. "He's going to shoot for it, but that doesn't mean he will," D'Antoni said. "He'll be back pretty soon." ... Portland was without three injured starters -- Nicolas Batum (shoulder), J.J. Hickson (back) and Wesley Matthews (ankle). The Blazers started four rookies -- Lillard, Barton, Meyers Leonard and Victor Claver.
Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Football
View Comments (28)