NBA: Kobe-less Lakers stop Trail Blazers
By Kevin Ding
The Orange County Register
PORTLAND, Ore. — It was an unlikely locale but a timely moment for Lakers other than Kobe Bryant to show their worth.
Bryant missed his first game in more than three years because of injury, suiting up initially but determining 45 minutes before game time Saturday night he wouldn't play because of a sprained left ankle. Without him, the Lakers won, 99-82, and broke their nine-game losing streak in Portland, where they came in with just two victories in their past 17 tries.
It was Derek Fisher's leadership, Lamar Odom's rebounding and Shannon Brown's and Ron Artest's scoring that made up for Bryant. The Lakers also played most of the game without Andrew Bynum, who bruised his right hip and made one unsuccessful attempt at fighting through the injury before retiring for the night.
With so many Lakers increasing their energy after the disappointing home loss to Denver the night before, the game wasn't even close after the Lakers held a six-point halftime lead.
Jackson chose to start Odom in Bryant's place, because Odom usually plays guard in the triangle offense anyway. The big lineup of Odom in the game at the same time as Bynum and Pau Gasol hasn't worked during experimental stretches this season — and it hardly registered on the scale this time because Bynum played only 10 minutes (three points, one rebound).
Against a Portland backcourt missing All-Star Brandon Roy (hamstring), the Lakers were consistent in running their offense without Bryant. Artest caught fire with three first-half three-pointers, including a 30-foot buzzer-beater before halftime. He finished with 21 points, one short of his season high.
Brown had 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting, giving the sort of production usually expected from Gasol or Bynum. Odom's 22 rebounds tied his career high.
(c) 2010, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.).
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