Bryant leads Lakers to sixth straight victoryJan 5, 2009 - 6:42 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Right now, the Los Angeles Lakers aren't even pushing the pedal to the floor. The rest of the league better watch out when they do.
Kobe Bryant poured in 26 points and the Lakers won their sixth straight game with a 100-86 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.
"We have plenty of more gears to go to, plenty more," said Bryant, whose squad improved to a league-best 27-5. "I haven't even put it in third gear yet."
Pau Gasol scored 19 points as only two starters scored in double-figures for Los Angeles, which captured its 15th consecutive win at home.
"The Lakers are a good group, they are on a mission," Blazers head coach Nate McMillan said. "They definitely know what they need to do to win."
LaMarcus Aldridge recorded 22 points and 11 rebounds for Portland, which played without leading scorer Brandon Roy. Nicolas Batum scored 17 points and Rudy Fernandez had 14.
The Blazers' recent struggles on the road against the Lakers continued, as they have now lost five in a row and 18 of last 20 at the Staples Center. Their last win in the series in Los Angeles came on February 21, 2007.
"That was a tough loss," Aldridge said. "We had control most of the first half and they made a little run starting the second. They came out with the momentum in the third and took over the game."
The Lakers turned it on defensively in the third quarter, holding the Blazers scoreless for nearly 4 1/2 minutes. They scored nine points during the stand, which came in the midst of a 20-7 run and helped them grab a 71-57 advantage with 2:41 left in the quarter.
Vladimir Radmanovic's 3-pointer at the horn extended the lead to 81-66 heading into the fourth.
"We focused defensively," Lakers forward Lamar Odom said. "That's always our Achilles' heel - how we play defense, (giving enough) energy and effort. In the second half, we were able to do that."
The Lakers got a lift from their bench, getting 16 points from Radmanovic, 11 from Sasha Vujacic and 10 from Odom.
"We have great quality players coming off the bench that can step up and have big contributions," Gasol said.
The Lakers committed nine turnovers in the first quarter as they trailed, 25-19. They took their first lead at 51-50 with under a minute left in the half on a pair of free throws by Trevor Ariza.
They finished with 12 turnovers in the first half, but had just two more over the final two quarters.
"Sometimes the rhythm isn't there, you can't quite get a handle on the ball and the team you're playing against is playing extremely well with a lot of energy," Bryant said. "But you have to somehow get a hold of that and put a stop to it."
Roy, who is averaging 23.0 points, missed his third game and is expected to be out seven to 10 more days with a strained right hamstring.
In his NBA debut on October 28, Greg Oden went scoreless with five rebounds in 13 minutes before injuring his right against the Lakers on opening night. In this one, he finished with 10 points and four rebounds.
LA LAKERS 100 FINAL
Jan 4 11:57 PM
LA LAKERS 81 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 4 11:26 PM
LA LAKERS 51 HALFTIME
Jan 4 10:44 PM
LA LAKERS 19 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 4 10:07 PM
- NBA's 6-city tour lets US catch up in 3-on-3 basketball May 21
- Entering Hollywood, Kobe Bryant gets advice from Spielberg May 20
- Klay Thompson has carried Warriors this postseason May 19
- Cavs 9-0 in these playoffs, and joining rarefied NBA air May 18
- 76ers win NBA draft lottery, Lakers stay at No. 2, keep pick May 17
- After lots of losing, 76ers hope to win big in NBA lottery May 17
- Blazers coach Terry Stotts agrees to 3-year extension May 16
- Jim McMillian, forward on '72 Lakers title team, dead at 68 May 16
- Defending champion Warriors expect tough task from Thunder May 16
- Clarification: Stars fuel hope for mid-major prospects May 13
- Damian Lillard and Trail Blazers look to bright future May 12
- How many times has your team changed coaches in the Pop era? May 12