PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A modest three-game winning streak as the
season edges closer to the playoffs isn't enough to excite the Los
Angeles Lakers, and certainly not Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers put together three wins for the first time this
season with an 86-83 victory over the struggling Portland Trail
Blazers on Wednesday night.
"Even though we won, we still feel like we can play much
better," said Bryant, who had 31 points. "I don't think anybody's
going to be jumping for joy."
Teammate Lamar Odom also suggested more is needed to be
accomplished before any congratulations were passed around.
"Hopefully, we can get four or five straight," he said.
Portland made it close. Shareef Abdur-Rahim's game-tying 3-point
attempt bounced off the rim at the final buzzer.
Damon Stoudamire scored 21 of his 25 points in a second half
rally for the Blazers, who have won just one of their last six
"Close games like that always disappoint me. In this situation
you can't even feel good about the fight, because we're so
desperate for wins," Abdur-Rahim said.
Portland coach Maurice Cheeks was much more dire.
"It is a dagger," Cheeks said. "It is not the end, but it is
After trailing by as many as 13 points, the Blazers briefly took
a seven-point lead in the third quarter. The rival Lakers quickly
regained control, and the Blazers grew clearly frustrated when they
fell behind 76-69 in the fourth. Stoudamire kicked the scorer's
table when Portland called timeout.
Then Stoudamire singlehandedly took over, scoring the next eight
points to narrow the gap to 78-76. But Portland wouldn't get that
close again until Stoudamire made a 3-pointer with 21.1 seconds
left in the game, closing it to 84-83.
Bryant hit a pair of free throws before Abdur-Rahim's
unsuccessful attempt to tie it as time ran out.
"It's a significant win for us, period," Lakers coach Frank
Hamblen said. "We're in a race for a playoff spot."
The Lakers, in eighth place in the Western Conference, were
coming off a 104-95 victory over Boston the night before. Bryant
and Odom each scored 21 points.
Forward Zach Randolph, who missed Portland's last two games
before the break with lingering soreness in his right knee, started
for the first time since mid-January when he first had trouble.
Randolph, the league's Most Improved Player last season who
seemed frustrated at times with his reserve role, had 12 points and
The Lakers went on a 15-2 run to take a 29-18 lead early in the
second quarter and led by as many as 13 points in the first half.
But the Blazers closed to 43-39 at the break with an 11-2 rally.
Nick Van Exel's 20-foot jumper tied it at 45, and the Blazers
went on to take a 58-51 lead on Stoudamire's 3-pointer. It was
short-lived, however, and the Lakers scored eight unanswered points
to go up 59-58.
Los Angeles extended the lead to 68-61, capped by Tierre Brown's
3-pointer and layup.
The Blazers activated Abdur-Rahim from the injured list before
the game. He missed 22 games with an injured right elbow that
required surgery Jan. 12.
The move comes amid trade speculation involving Abdur-Rahim. He
had 16 points against the Lakers.
Lakers forward Caron Butler missed a second straight game
with a stomach virus. He did not travel with the team to Portland.
Luke Walton made his second career start in his place. ... Portland
center Theo Ratliff dressed but pulled himself out of the starting
lineup because of shoulder pain. ... The Blazers cleared the way
for Abdur-Rahim's return by placing guard Derek Anderson on the
injured list with back spasms. ... Portland rookie Sebastian
Telfair limped off the court midway through the second quarter with
a mild left ankle sprain, according to the team.