BASKETBALL

Kobe scores 40, Lakers hold off Blazers 111-107

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 February, 2013, 6:59pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 February, 2013, 7:04pm

Kobe Bryant scored 40 points, Dwight Howard had 19 points and 16 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers capped a trying week with a gritty 111-107 victory over the slumping Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

Hours after longtime Lakers owner Jerry Buss was buried, and a day after a moving memorial service punctuated by eulogies from Bryant and other franchise greats, the team got back to basketball with a much-needed victory at Staples Center.

Bryant scored 11 points in the final 51/2 minutes and the Lakers won for the seventh time in 10 games. They remained ninth in the Western Conference playoff race, 31/2 games behind Houston for the final spot with 26 remaining. Portland trails Los Angeles by 11/2 games.