Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/29/12
Kobe Bryant scored 27 points, and Dwight Howard added 21 points and 14 rebounds as the host Los Angeles Lakers cruised past the Portland Trail Blazers 104-87 Friday night at the Staples Center. The Lakers (15-15) took a 22-point lead into the fourth quarter en route to their sixth win in seven games. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points for Portland (14-13), which lost for just the second time in eight games. The Lakers shot 46.5 percent (40-for-86). Paul Gasol was an efficient 6-for-9, including 2-for-3 on 3-pointers, to finish with 15 points. Bryant made nine of 18 shots, and Howard hit seven of 13. Los Angeles was not effective from the free-throw line, making just 60.7 percent (17 of 28). Portland shot 41.4 percent (36 of 87) from the floor, led by Aldridge's 12-for-17 performance. The Blazers made 75 percent of their free throws on 12-of-16 shooting. The Lakers won the rebounding battle 52-44. The teams combined for just 20 turnovers. The Lakers never trailed in the contest, and they led by as many as 20 points in the first half. They held a 62-48 advantage at the break. Notes: Howard thought the $35,000 fine he received for his flagrant foul on the Denver Nuggets' Kenneth Faried was a bit excessive, but he said he'll try to control his frustration in the future. "I got to do a better job of keeping my composure and not getting frustrated and also remember that I'm playing for my teammates at all times and stay on the right path," Howard said Friday, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com. "(The fine) was a lot. It was a lot for a flagrant foul. I'm happy I didn't get suspended, that's the biggest thing." The flagrant foul 2 gives Howard three flagrant points on the season. If he totals five such points, he would be suspended for a game. ... Gasol was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, but he played Friday. ... Blazers point guard Damian Lillard leads all rookies in scoring and assists and entered Friday's game in the top 15 in scoring, assists and 3-pointers made. He shot just 4-for-17 against the Lakers, finishing with 11 points. ... Portland guard Elliot Williams (left Achilles) did not play. ... Friday's game kicked off a stretch of seven home dates in a 10-game stretch for the Lakers, ending Jan. 17 at home in a nationally televised meeting with the Miami Heat. ... In 50 previous games against Portland, Bryant had an average of 27.3 points per game, his fourth-highest career total against any team (Charlotte Bobcats, Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors).
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