Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/29/12
After a slow start to the season, it looks as if the Los Angeles Lakers are starting to round into their usual form. Kobe Bryant scored 27 points, and Dwight Howard added 21 points and 14 rebounds as the host 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. Los Angeles coach Mike D'Antoni said his team played with a lot of drive. "I'm a big believer that the ball will find energy," D'Antoni said. "If you put energy on the floor, you end up with a good game." Howard spurred the Lakers early with nine points and four rebounds in the first quarter as they took a 34-25 lead. "He played with a lot of energy and a lot of activity and gave us a huge spark," Bryant said of Howard. Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge scored a team-high 26 points, but he came out late in the fourth quarter due to a bruised chest. He is considered probable for the team's Saturday home game against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Blazers (14-14) lost for just the second time in eight games, but they continue to struggle on the road. They fell to 4-10 away from the Rose Garden. The road will get tougher when they travel to play the New York Knicks on New Year's Day before going to Memphis and Minnesota. "That's the sign of a young team," Aldridge said. "You have to learn how to take it with you on the road. That's a part of us growing up." The Lakers shot 46.5 percent (40-for-86). Pau 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), but that did not hurt them in this game. 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, 12 of 16, but did not get to the line nearly enough. "We got outplayed tonight," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "The Lakers played really well. We didn't necessarily play well. The Lakers pretty much outplayed us." The Lakers also won the rebounding battle 52-44. The teams combined for just 20 turnovers. Los Angeles never trailed in the contest, and it led by as many as 20 points in the first half. The Lakers held a 62-48 advantage at the break. "We just came out and we played hard tonight from the beginning," Howard said. "Our effort was there. We played inside-out, ran the ball, and our defense was real good tonight. And Pau was looking like (Dirk) Nowitzki out there. Pau Nowitzki hit two 3s." 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'd 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. "(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 it didn't keep him out of action. ... 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).
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban defends hack-a-player strategy

Jameis Winston awarded Pepsi NFL rookie of the Year

Trade Rumors: Clippers ‘reluctant’ to deal injured Blake Griffin

Bright future for Minnesota Timberwolves

Eli and Archie Manning say Peyton won’t likely leave Denver if he plays in 2016

NCAA mulls changes to graduate transfer and targeting rules

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Cavs active in NBA trade market, covet Jared Dudley

Roger Goodell expectedly dodges Patriots-related questions at Super Bowl

Baltimore Orioles acquire starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne

USC athletic director Pat Haden to retire in June

Report: Browns owner ‘frustrated, emotional’ about Johnny Manziel

Raiders and Texans to play MNF game in Mexico City in 2016

Kirk Cousins says he has ‘very good relationship’ with RG3

Super Bowl 50 ticket prices are insane

Take a moment to appreciate the greatness of Cam Newton

4-Star 2018 quarterback Matt Corral commits to USC

QUIZ: Name every NFL regular season MVP

WATCH: Avery Bradley nails buzzer beater to beat Cavs

WATCH: Jimmy Butler taken to locker room in wheel chair

Klay Thompson's first five years in historical context

WATCH: Cubs' Kris Bryant went swimming with sharks

Sports Authority taking steps to file for bankruptcy

Major League Baseball threatens to disassociate from DraftKings

NFL considering moving Pro Bowl to Australia

Joe Montana warns NFL players about potential long-term damage after retirement

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker