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Blazers snap six-game skid; Bryant scores 41 in loss

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Before the Trail Blazers had to face Kobe
Bryant and his four-game streak of 45 or more points, Portland
coach Nate McMillan drew a heart to inspire his team.

"He explained what it was all about," guard Steve Blake said.
"He just said you've got to play with a lot of heart and a lot of
passion. You've got to want it."

The Blazers were inspired. They ended Bryant's streak and
emerged with a 113-103 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on
Wednesday night. Juan Dixon scored 27 points to help Portland stop
a six-game skid.

Bryant, who finished with 41 points, noticed the Blazers'
newfound motivation.

"They came out and played a lot harder than we did. After the
last showing they had on their home floor, I think they took it
upon themselves and played with more effort and more heart,"
Bryant said. "And they did it."

Bryant, who had 23 points at the half, dunked with 23.9 seconds
left to narrow it to 111-103, but the Lakers couldn't get any
closer, ending a three-game winning streak.

"Kobe was waiting for his game to get hot and it never
happened, and we tried to force the ball into him and it cost us,"
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

Bryant had scored at least 45 points in his last four games,
becoming the first player to put together such a streak since Wilt
Chamberlain in 1964. Elgin Baylor also reached the milestone in
1961.

The only player with more than four straight is Chamberlain, who
had nine consecutive games with 45 or more points in November 1962.

Bryant now has 11 games this season with 40 or more points and
51 games for his career. Among active players with 40-plus point
games, Bryant trails only Allen Iverson, who has 67.

Bryant has two games with 50 or more points this season, and
seven in his career.

"He is one of the best I've played against and coached
against," said McMillan, who played for the Seattle SuperSonics.
"What he's done lately is unbelievable."

Ruben Patterson inadvertently bonked Bryant in the eye when he
was going up for a layup midway through the fourth quarter. Bryant
collapsed on the court, but was able to return to the game.

McMillan didn't start leading scorer Zach Randolph because he
was late for a shootaround. But the forward was quickly inserted
into the game when Ratliff committed two fouls in the first 30
seconds.

Randolph finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds for his 16th
double-double of the season.

The Blazers, who led by as many as 11 points, took a 31-24 lead
on Steve Blake's 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter.

Game notes
It was the first meeting this season between the two
Western Conference teams. ... The Lakers took last season's series
against the Blazers 2-1. ... Dixon, who has been seeing more
playing time since Sebastian Telfair strained a ligament in his
thumb and missed 12 games, has scored in double figures in his last
13 games. ... The Trail Blazers' 113 points was a season high.