The defending NBA champions dropped their ninth straight in Portland, losing 107-98 to the Trail Blazers on Friday night. Brandon Roy scored 32 points for the Blazers, who own the NBA’s longest home winning streak against the Lakers.
“I wish I knew exactly what it was,” Roy said. “Then we could keep it going. We just play them with a lot of energy, a lot of effort.”
Kobe Bryant had 32 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers, who trailed by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter but cut it to single digits in the final minutes.
Bryant made just 14 of 37 field-goal attempts, while Roy made nine of 11. Roy also made 13 of 14 free throws, while Bryant made two of four.
“They just play us really well here,” Bryant said. “They’re extremely well coached and play with a lot of energy here. They’re very comfortable shooting in this arena, particularly against us.”
The victory is the latest display of Portland’s surprising resiliency despite a rash of injuries. The team has lost both of its big men – Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla — to knee injuries for the rest of the season, but the Blazers have won seven of their last 10.
The Lakers were without Pau Gasol, who missed his third straight game because of a sore left hamstring. Coach Phil Jackson has said he doesn’t expect Gasol back until Sunday’s home game against Milwaukee, at the earliest.
Portland led by as much as eight in the first half before the Lakers tied it at 31 early in the second quarter.
The Blazers went up 47-39 on Roy’s driving layup with 4:09 left in the first half, and Juwan Howard’s 15-foot jumper gave Portland a 55-43 lead at the break.
Bryant hit a step-back jumper to pull the Lakers to 68-65, and Los Angeles appeared to be gaining momentum, but the Blazers effectively snuffed it when Martell Webster plowed through three Lakers and scooped the ball in to make it 81-71 at the end of the third.
Howard made a 19-foot jumper midway through the fourth, and rookie Dante Cunningham added his own long jumper to put Portland up 92-74 as the game slipped all but out of reach.
Jackson, who once blamed the team’s bad luck in Portland on the rainy weather, said — albeit sarcastically, “I just mark Ls on the season right away when we come up.”
The Blazers are also playing without starting forward Nicolas Batum, who needed shoulder surgery just before the start of the season. Then forward Travis Outlaw broke his left foot, and forward Rudy Fernandez had to have a surgical procedure for a back injury that was causing him leg pain.