PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- As the clock ran down and the Lakers
started sneaking up on the Trail Blazers, the Portland players
heard something that had been missing in recent weeks -- the
hometown fans were getting into the game.
"Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!" the more than 19,000 fans chanted in
unison, showing more enthusiasm than they had last month, when the
Blazers went 2-11.
The players took the plea to heart and beat the Lakers 99-93
Wednesday night to snap a six-game losing streak. Zach Randolph had
20 points and eight rebounds.
"I'm sure some people were thinking the Lakers were going to
come back, but the crowd was great and they got behind us,"
grinning Portland coach Nate McMillan said.
Kobe Bryant, who said he was hampered by a sinus infection,
scored 35 points for the Lakers, who have lost three of four as
they jockey for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Travis Outlaw's dunk put Portland ahead 73-57 late in the third
quarter. With the Lakers making a comeback in the fourth, Outlaw
hit a jumper with 7:13 left that made it 84-74.
The Lakers narrowed it to 90-85 on Bryant's jumper with 3:20
left and the game appeared to be slipping away from Portland.
After Luke Walton made a pair of free throws, Parker's driving
finger-roll got the Lakers within 92-89 with 1:39 to go.
Steve Blake hit a pair of free throws for the Blazers before
Lamar Odom's layup narrowed it to 94-91. Blake hit a 21-foot
jumper, but Odom was able to capitalize on Bryant's missed
3-pointer with a reverse layup, making it 96-93.
Odom finished with 16 points for the Lakers.
"Some games you have to do the right thing basketball-wise to
win and we can't seem to do that," Odom said. "We don't play a
good offensive game and we can't win. That puts Kobe in a bind.
He's got to get 35 or 40 points for us to win. We should be
embarrassed. I know I am."
Blake added 19 points for the Blazers.
Portland's recent struggles on the court were compounded by
upheaval off it. Billionaire owner Paul Allen has made it known
that the team is losing money, and wants some kind of
public-private partnership to keep it afloat.
The move stunned many Blazers fans and prompted NBA commissioner
David Stern to comment, "It's our preference, our strong
preference, to have the Blazers in Portland, in Oregon, playing at
the Rose Garden and being able to be a financial success."
The Blazers pulled it together on the court to beat the rival
Portland went on a 12-4 run in the second quarter, capped by
Blake's 3-pointer and Miles' layup, to take a 44-32 lead, its
biggest to that point. Portland went on to lead 47-40 at the half.
Bryant got off to a slow start, hitting just 3-of-13 from the
field. He was, however, 6-for-6 from the free throw line to give
him 12 points at the break.
He was 15-of-15 from the line for the game.
"I'm just achy. You've got to push through it," Bryant said.
"My teammates talked about doing a better job trying to pick me up
sometimes and not having me shoulder the whole load all the time."
Portland coach Nate McMillan shook up his lineup by starting
newly acquired forward Brian Skinner instead of Miles.
Skinner came to Portland from Sacramento as part of a four-team,
nine-player trade at the deadline last week. Skinner finished with
nine points and 10 rebounds.
Portland has used six different lineups in the last six games.
"It was frustrating there for a little while. You're confidence
can get down," Blake said. "Winning changes everything."
The season series between the teams stands at 2-1 in favor
of the Blazers. ... One fan weighed in on the off-court turmoil
with a sign: "Blazer fans! Unite and support your team!" ...
Attendance was announced at 19,454, just short of the 19,860
capacity at the Rose Garden.
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