Kobe Bryant scored a team-high 22 points as the Los Angeles Lakers overcame the Portland Trail Blazers 84-80 in a defensive struggle at Staples Center Sunday night. Bryant shot 9-20, but a solid 5-8 in the fourth quarter as he scored 10 in the final period. That helped turn the tide, as the Lakers erased a five-point Blazers lead late to pull away.
Bryant's opponents in Blazers' black were not so efficient, especially in the fourth. Portland scored just 14 points in the final quarter, and the Blazers' guards were almost universally bad. Wesley Matthews shot 0-4. Andre Miller shot 3-14. Rudy Fernandez shot 3-10. Brandon Roy shot 3-12. Patty Mills, bless him, shot 0-0. That comes out to 9-40 shooting from Portland's guards, and that's not getting it done, even if Nicolas Batum shreds Ron Artest for 25 points on 10-16 shooting.
Portland nearly won because of Batum, awful three-point shooting (3-17) for the Lakers and a killer effort on the offensive glass. Sure, Portland had plenty of opportunities for second-chance points given the rate at which the team's jumpers clanked. But the Blazers racked up 17 offensive boards, some 39 percent of their opportunities, a very strong effort.
But Kobe outlasted the effort, and the Lakers walked away with a fourth straight win since the bad loss to the Miami Heat. L.A. has won 12 of 13 since the All-Star break.