Gasol's job was to be aggressive at the start, before Bryant put it away in the end. And that's exactly what happened.
Bryant scored 37 points and Los Angeles stopped Portland's season-best, six-game winning streak with a 106-101 victory Wednesday night.
Bryant said he knew Portland was thinking he would take over in OT, so he said to Gasol: "'It's me and you. We're going to go to you, you go to work and do what you do best. Bring us home.' And he did that."
LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and 14 rebounds for the Blazers but didn't hit a shot in the fourth quarter and missed two key free throws in the extra period.
Lamar Odom and Ron Artest each hit a 3-pointer to help Los Angeles to a 95-92 lead in overtime. Rudy Fernandez responded with a tying 3 and Andre Miller's jumper gave the Blazers the lead, but Gasol hit a turnaround hook shot and added a free throw before Bryant's jumper with 27.9 seconds left gave Los Angeles a 100-97 advantage.
Gasol fouled Aldridge, who missed both free throws to all but seal it for the Lakers.
"He wanted me to be aggressive and carry the load the first few minutes of overtime," said Gasol, who finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds. "I was happy to do that."
The two-time defending NBA champions beat Atlanta 104-80 on Tuesday night in Los Angeles, snapping a three-game losing streak.
Portland went up 85-75 on Wesley Matthews' short jumper with 5:49 left in regulation. But the Lakers slowly chipped away at the lead.
Artest hit a 3-pointer with 1:29 left to narrow the gap to four. Bryant's fadeaway jumper made it 87-85, and after Aldridge missed on the other end, Bryant scored again with 4.7 seconds left. Aldridge missed another layup as time ran out, sending the game to overtime.
"This was truly a playoff type of test, because of the crowd and things weren't going our way," Bryant said. "Down seven with like three minutes to go, we just stayed at it. It was a playoff type of game."
Soon after the game, Aldridge went to Twitter: "My bad Portland I have to make those shots to win the game!"
The dramatic loss ruined an uplifting night for Portland, which put three-time All-Star Brandon Roy on the floor for the first time since December. Roy entered with 2:21 left in the first quarter and received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at the Rose Garden.
Roy hadn't played since Dec. 15 because of soreness in both knees, which he says is caused by too little cartilage. He underwent arthroscopic surgery Jan. 17.
Coach Nate McMillan says Roy will be limited to 15 minutes per game initially, coming off the bench. He will not play in back-to-back games.
"It felt good," said Roy, who had five points in just more than 15 minutes. "I was happy to be out there playing, just trying to get my flow back."
About his knees, Roy said: "They were cool."
The Lakers led by as many as eight points early, but Portland pulled ahead on Fernandez's 3-pointer with 3:02 to go in the first quarter. Fernandez made an acrobatic save that sent him over the scorer's table -- a lob that went to Nicolas Batum for another 3-pointer that extended the lead to 25-19.
The Blazers started 7-foot center Joel Przybilla to give them more size against the Lakers. Rumors swirled all day that the Blazers were trying to deal him to Charlotte in exchange for Gerald Wallace, but the talk had died down considerably by game time.
Portland went on to lead by as many as nine points in the second quarter and went into the break ahead 47-41. Aldridge had 18 points in the first half.
Bryant hit a 3-pointer to give Los Angeles a 67-65 lead with just more than a minute to go in the third quarter. It was short-lived, and the Blazers built a 76-71 advantage on a 3-pointer from Batum.
The Lakers won the first meeting with the Blazers, 121-96 on Nov. 7 in Los Angeles. It was the most points the Blazers have allowed this season. ... Actor Timothy Hutton attended the game, sitting next to former Blazers great Jerome Kersey.
- Ron Garretson
- Leon Wood
- Marat Kogut