Kobe leads attack for Lakers as Oden's NBA debut ends early due to injury

LOS ANGELES -- The Lakers provided a glimpse of the balance, depth and defense they hope will take them all the way to the NBA title this season.

Kobe Bryant had 23 points, 11 rebounds and five assists Tuesday night, leading Los Angeles to a 96-76 season-opening victory over the Portland Trail Blazers and spoiling rookie Greg Oden's debut, which was cut short by another injury.

Bryant orchestrated a versatile offense for the defending Western Conference champion Lakers, who also played tenacious defense and held Portland to 35 percent shooting.

"I'm surprised," Bryant said of the margin of victory. "This is a team that gives us a lot of trouble. But we played very well and I am very pleased."

Oden hurt his right foot early in the game and left just before halftime. X-rays were inconclusive and an MRI was set Wednesday for what was diagnosed as a mid-foot sprain. The 7-foot, 285-pounder said after the game that his foot was "tender" but that he's not really concerned.

Pau Gasol had all of his 15 points in the first half as Los Angeles moved in front to stay. Trevor Ariza finished with 11 points and Jordan Farmar had nine. Andrew Bynum, back after sitting out since last January with a knee injury, had eight points, three rebounds and three blocks. Lamar Odom, in his new sixth-man role, had nine points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes.

Gasol was pleased by the team effort.

"We worked very hard defensively and we played together as a group," he said. "We just had so many weapons to use and we had that talent that we need to win."

The 20-year-old Oden missed all four of his shots, had five rebounds, one turnover, blocked one shot and picked up two fouls before leaving the game.

Taken by Portland with the first pick in the 2007 draft, Oden missed all last season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee.

Explaining how he got hurt against the Lakers, he said: "I was trying to go get a rebound and kind of came down on Derek Fisher's foot on like the third play of the game. I kind of fell and didn't think twice about it. I tried to play the rest of the half with it.

"I wanted to play in the second half. I was taped. I was trying to run. It just wasn't happening. I'm just trying to get through it and trying to get back. It's just a little setback. I'll still be in the gym tomorrow."

Portland coach Nate McMillan said, "I hope it's not serious because he's worked so hard to get himself back. We've tried to do all we could to get him into the season, and here we are -- the first game. Hopefully in a couple of days, he can be back."

Travis Outlaw led Portland with 18 points and Rudy Fernandez had 16.

The Lakers were in control of the game virtually from the start, but the Trail Blazers briefly made it interesting when they cut the deficit to 49-41 early in the third quarter. Bryant, however, hit a 3, made a reverse layup, then sank four consecutive free throws to build the lead back to 17 points, and Los Angeles led 72-53 heading into the final 12 minutes.

The Lakers were Western Conference champions last season and lost to Boston in the NBA Finals.

Game notes
Along with the usual cast of celebrities that included actors Jack Nicholson and Denzel Washington, soccer's David Beckham was sitting courtside. ... Bynum averaged 13.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks and shot a league-best 63.6 percent from the floor in 35 games before injuring his knee last January. ... Portland, coming off a .500 season, hasn't made the playoffs since 2002-03, the league's longest current streak. ... Late in the first quarter, Odom drove the lane, glanced to his right and whipped a perfect pass to Sasha Vujacic in the corner. Only Vujacic was in his warmup jacket beyond the sideline and had stood up from the bench to watch Odom go to the hoop. Vujacic caught the ball and smiled, and Odom managed a sheepish grin.