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NBA -- Lakers cling to 8th playoffs spot


PhilBoxing.com



Bryant.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Los Angeles Lakers moved ahead of the Utah Jazz in the tight race for the 8th and last playoffs berth in the Western Conference by beating the Portland Trail Blazers 113-106 Wednesday night at the Rose Garden.

Kobe Bryant served up one of his best efforts of the season and scored 47 points in 48 minutes of play. Kobe made 14 of 27 field goals and went 18-for-18 from the free throw stripe.

The Lakers big men -- Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol -- provided inside might while Kobe tormented the Blazers with mostly jumpers and perimeter shots. Gasol had 23 points and nine rebounds while Howard finished with 20 and 10 rebounds.

After surrendering 41 first quarter points and trailing by two late in the fourth quarter, Los Angeles took control by going on an 8-0 run for a 106-100 lead with 4:09 left to play.

"He (Kobe) imposed his will on us tonight," Portland All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge told NBA.com. Aldridge had a huge 17 points and 16 rebounds for the short-handed Blazers who started four rookies against the visiting Lakers.

Overshadowed by Kobe's explosion was the spectacular effort turned in by leading Rookie of the Year candidate Damian Lillard, who scored 38 and dished nine assists. But Lillard's brilliance wasn't enough to carry a Blazers team that made only 38 of 85 field goals and 12 of 26 threes. (JSM)


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