Blazers can’t catch up to Lakers
Friday, March 23, 2012
LOS ANGELES — Andrew Bynum had 28 points and nine rebounds, point guard Ramon Sessions had 20 points and 11 assists in his first start for the Lakers, and Los Angeles beat the Portland Trail Blazers 103-96 on Friday night.
Kobe Bryant scored 18 points for the Lakers, who finished with a season-high 33 assists and increased their Pacific Division lead to 3 games over the idle Clippers. Pau Gasol had 16 rebounds and 10 points.
Sessions played his fifth game since the Lakers obtained him from Cleveland along with Christian Eyenga on March 15 for Luke Walton and Jason Kapono. The fifth-year veteran made his first three shots and was 6 for 10 from the field in 35 minutes after averaging 25 minutes, 12 points and six assists in his four games off the bench.
Sessions became the first Lakers point guard to record a double-double since Jan. 11, 2009, when Fisher had 13 points and 11 assists in 42 minutes against the Miami Heat in a 108-105 victory at Staples Center.
Steve Blake went back to a reserve role, scoring two points in 18 minutes. He started the previous four games following the departure of Fisher at the trading deadline, averaging almost 23 minutes and totaling just five points and 13 assists while shooting 2 for 12.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Trail Blazers with 29 points on 12-for-18 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds. Forward J.J. Hickson made his Blazers debut after being claimed off waivers from Sacramento on Wednesday, scoring 14 points in 22 minutes.
Portland trailed by as many as 12 late in the first quarter before Wesley Matthews tied it 48-all on a 3-pointer late in the second, capping the Blazers’ 18-6 run, but they never did take the lead.
Jamal Crawford had a chance to put Portland ahead with 25 seconds left in the third, but missed a 19-footer. He got another chance to give the Blazers the lead, but Matt Barnes hustled back after a Lakers turnover and blocked Crawford’s fast-break layup with 9:57 left in the game.
Barnes then hit a 3-pointer 43 seconds later, and the Lakers eventually were able to put the stubborn Blazers away — but not before Portland cut the martin to a single point three different times on 3-pointers by Crawford, Matthews and Raymond Felton during a 4-minute stretch.
It was the third game this season in which the Lakers never trailed. The other two were against Minnesota.
Los Angeles led 53-48 at halftime, getting a combined 29 points from Bryant and Bynum to help offset 21 by Aldridge. The Blazers’ forward made 10 of 12 shots in the half. Neither Gasol nor and Metta World Peace, the Lakers’ starting forwards, had any points in the opening quarter. But Bryant made five of his first six shots to help Los Angeles take a 30-19 lead into the second.
Bryant has 29,235 points and needs 43 more to overtake Michael Jordan for second place on the career list for most points scored with one franchise during the regular season. Karl Malone, who ended his career with the Lakers in 2003-04 after 18 seasons with Utah, had 36,374 points with the Jazz. ... The Lakers began a stretch in which they will play six of seven at home. They are 20-4 at Staples Center, including a loss to the Clippers in which the Lakers were the designated visiting team. ... Sessions is playing for his fourth NBA team in five years. In his 89 previous NBA starts, he averaged 14.8 points and 7.4 assists. He made a career-high 39 starts in 2008-09 with Milwaukee, and 38 with the Cavaliers last season. ... Bryant is averaging 27.2 points in 17 games against the Trail Blazers since scoring 65 against them in a 116-111 overtime win at Staples Center on March 16, 2007 — the first of four consecutive games in which he scored 50 or more en route to his second straight scoring title. Bryant is vying for a third with a league-best 28.5. ... Bryant was 5 for 17 from the field. The Lakers are 8-1 when he’s attempted fewer than 20 shots. They are 26-18 this season when Bryant misses at least 10 shots, and 1-7 when he’s missed more than 16 in a game. ... Portland is 2-3 since Kaleb Canales replaced Nate McMillan as head coach and starters Marcus Camby and Gerald Wallace were traded. ... Portland was 8 for 20 on free throws, one night after converting all 25 attempts in a 97-93 home win against Memphis.