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Kobe Bryant sits, but Lakers win in Portland

L.A. ends nine-game losing streak in the Rose Garden. Bryant's ankle is too sore for him to play.

February 07, 2010|By Broderick Turner

Reporting from Portland, Ore. — No Kobe Bryant. No problem.

No Andrew Bynum for the second half. No problem.

A nine-game losing streak against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden staring the Lakers in the face. No problem.

The spell the Lakers always seemed to be under when they went to Portland has been broken, a 99-82 victory over the Trail Blazers on Saturday halting a losing streak that dated to Feb. 23, 2005.

And they did this with Bryant in the Lakers' locker room getting treatment on his sprained left ankle that knocked him out of the game.

Bryant had played in 235 consecutive games, but now he was out and unable to help the Lakers in their quest to end the streak.

Bynum started the game and played with swelling in his left knee that forced him to wear a brace. Then he came down with a right hip bruise, forcing him to miss the second half.

All the Lakers did with two of their big guns out was play as a team, play defense and offense as one.

When it was over, the Lakers hugged each other on the court.

They had finished a grueling week in which they had played five games, going 3-2, finally getting a win in Portland in the process.

"Obviously, we don't like to see Kobe sitting out and he's getting banged up and then Andrew going down," said Pau Gasol, who had 13 points and eight rebounds. "We reacted well. We just played hard and played together, and the result was winning in a place where we haven't been able to play well at all and be successful at all."

Ron Artest led the Lakers in scoring with 21 points on nine-for-12 shooting, including three for four from three-point range. Shannon Brown contributed 19 points off the bench, 14 in the first half.

Lamar Odom, who started in the backcourt in place of Bryant, produced a double-double.

Odom had 10 points and tied his career high with 22 rebounds, 19 on defense for a career best. He also had six assists.

The Lakers outrebounded the Trail Blazers, 47-30, and held them to two offensive rebounds, a Portland franchise low.

The Lakers held the Trail Blazers to 37.1% shooting and 34 points in the second half, one shy of their season low.

Brandon Roy didn't play for Portland because of a hamstring injury.

"Winning is fun and in particular in this building," said Derek Fisher, who had 14 points and six assists. "And coming off a loss last night [to Denver], it's very good for us."

The Lakers said that Bryant will be evaluated Sunday to determine if he can play Monday night against San Antonio at Staples Center and that his status is listed as day to day.

Bryant is scheduled to play in the All-Star game as a starting guard for the Western Conference Feb. 14 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, but that remains uncertain.

Bryant has taken pride in playing through his injuries, last missing a game because of one Dec. 8, 2006, against the Atlanta Hawks (sprained right ankle). He played all 82 regular-season games the last two seasons.

The last time he missed a game was March 7, 2007, but that was because of a suspension imposed by the NBA.

Bryant didn't speak to reporters after the game, but Lakers Coach Phil Jackson gave an account of how the decision was made.

Jackson said Bryant followed him into the coaches' office before the game and said, "I'm thinking about not playing tonight." "And I said, 'It's OK if you don't,' " Jackson said.

About 10 minutes later, when it was close to 6 p.m., the time the roster has to be turned in, Bryant came to a conclusion.

"He said, 'Yeah, I think I should take it off,' " Jackson said Bryant told him. "So we did and went from there."


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