Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 47 points and the Los Angeles Lakers pulled closer to a playoff berth with a 113-106 victory over the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.
The Lakers moved a game up on the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Portland, missing the playoffs for the second straight season, has lost nine straight, the most since an 11-game skid in the 2005-06 season. Rookie Damian Lillard led the Blazers with a career-high 38 points.
Pau Gasol had 23 points, seven rebounds and nine assists, while Dwight Howard added 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers. Bryant was 18 of 18 from the free throw line.
The Lakers finish the season off with three games at home, all against playoff-bound teams: Golden State, San Antonio and Houston.
Gasol knotted the game at 96 with a layup and a jumper with 7:09 left. After Lillard's 15-footer, Gasol added another jumper to tie it again. His layup gave the Lakers a 102-10...