With the Los Angeles Lakers facing what essentially amounted to a must-win game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, Kobe Bryant left nothing to chance. The 34-year-old veteran poured in 47 points, and the Lakers went on to defeat the Trailblazers, 113-106, in Portland.
With the victory, Los Angeles is now one full game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Jazz had Wednesday night off and return to the court on Friday against Minnesota.
But on Wednesday, the story was about Bryant, who had one his best performances of the season in one of the Lakers' biggest games. Along with his 47 points, Bryant added eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and four blocks to go along with 18-of-18 shooting from the free throw line.
Pau Gasol added 23 points for Los Angeles, which improved to 42-37 on the season.
Portland got a strong effort from rookie guard Damian Lillard, who poured in 38 points on the evening. LaMarcus Aldridge chipped in 17 points and 16 rebounds for the Blazers, who fell to 33-45 overall with the loss.