USA TODAY Sports
The Lakers improved to .500 with a rout of their rivals to the North, on a night when the franchise honored one of its legends.
The Los Angeles Lakers honored Hall of Famer Jamaal Wilkes and retired his No. 52 jersey on Friday night -- and the players responded by putting together a complete game as they defeated the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center, 104-87.
Led by Kobe Bryant's game-high 27 points, there were plenty of other savory stats for the purple and gold to showcase as they improved to 15-15 on an up-and-down season. Los Angeles led by as many as 29 points and had 23 fast break points while dominating the points in the paint by a margin of 58 to 38. They also committed just 11 turnovers.
After missing half of the team's previous game against the Denver Nuggets due to an ejection, Dwight Howard turned in a strong performance with 21 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks, one steal and one assist. Beyond the stat sheet, the big man was active and energetic, showcasing vintage athleticism on putbacks.
The Lakers used defense as a catalyst by holding the Blazers to 41.4 percent shooting from the field and a dismal 15.8 percent mark from the three-point line, while blocking seven shots. LaMarcus Aldridge scored a team-high 26 points on 12-of-17 from the field for Portland, which fell to 14-14 on the season.