Lakers 111, Trail Blazers 107

Jon Gold, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard played a bit of give-and-go for three quarters before Bryant took control in the fourth quarter and the Los Angeles Lakers eked past the visiting Portland Trail Blazers 111-107 on Friday night at Staples Center.
Bryant had 11 points in the first quarter, Howard had 10 in the second, Bryant came back with 18 in the third and nine in the fourth, finishing with 40.
After Bryant committed his fifth turnover of the night with less than 30 seconds left, Metta World Peace played strong defense and forced LaMarcus Aldridge into an awkward fade-away attempt, which clanked off the rim. Bryant then hit four straight free throws to preserve the win.
Behind Bryant and Howard, Los Angeles survived a poor shooting night. The Lakers shot just 40-for-85 from the field -- including just 2-for-11 by point guard Steve Nash -- and 33 percent from 3-point range.
Bryant had 40 points on 15-for-23 field-goal shooting and nine-of-nine from the free-throw line. He also had six rebounds and four assists.
Howard finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds and World Peace and Earl Clark each added 11.
While the Lakers featured a two-man show for much of the game, the Trail Blazers offered a family affair.
All five Portland starters scored in double-figures, led by J.J. Hickson's 22 points. Nicolas Batum had 20 points and eight rebounds, star rookie Damian Lillard had 19 points and seven assists and Hickson added 11 rebounds.
The Trail Blazers' bench, however, was outscored 26-14, as Lakers reserves Antawn Jamison added 16 points and Jodie Meeks had 10 points.
NOTES: Portland acquired Oklahoma City's Eric Maynor on Thursday in exchange for the draft rights to Georgios Printezis. The Trail Blazers subsequently waived guard Ronnie Price. ... Los Angeles center Pau Gasol remains out with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. Jordan Hill (left hip surgery) is also out for the Lakers. ... Portland's Wesley Matthews played despite being a game-time decision with an ankle injury. Elliott Williams (left Achilles tendon) missed the game for the Blazers. ... The two teams split their earlier two matchups this season, with both teams winning at home. Portland defeated Los Angeles 116-106 on Oct. 31, at the Rose Garden, and the Lakers won 104-87 on Dec. 28. ... Los Angeles won the last two season series over Portland after claiming just two from 1990-2009. ... Nash, who passed Magic Johnson for fourth on the all-time assists list on Wednesday against Boston, trails Mark Jackson for third by less than 200 assists. At his current pace, he'll pass Jackson by the end of the season.

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