The Los Angeles Lakers have won seven of their last nine games, and have surged into the lead the Pacific Division. Thanks in part to a brutal stretch by the Los Angeles Clippers, the Lakers have a three-game lead over their crosstown rivals. Here is an updated look at the NBA standings:
NBA Pacific Division Standings
Mem, at GS, OKC, NO, GS
NO, Pho, Por, Uta
at Cle, SA, at LAC, NO
LAL, NO, NJ, at LAL
at Hou, SA, at Uta, NJ
Through games of March 24
The Lakers have 10 home games and eight road contest remaining, while the Clippers are evenly split at 9-9. The two teams face off on April 4, a designated home game for the Clippers.
The Los Angeles Lakers' (30-18) new point guard wasted no time making a name for himself in his first LA start, finishing with a double double as the Lakers held on in a hot one against the Portland Trailblazers (22-26) 103-96. This is the fifth time in the last seven games that the Lakers have scored more than 100 points, in their first eight games of the season the Lakers only managed that once. The Lakers remain in third place in the Western Conference.
Most importantly for the Lakers, it was a game where everyone got involved. Andrew Bynum led the Lakers with 28 points, but all five starters finished in double digit scoring; plus nine points from Matt Barnes. Ramon Sessions led the Lakers with 11 assists, as the team set a new season high of 33 assists. Sessions also finished with 20 points, his 34th such game in his career.
Paul Gasol didn't score much tonight, only ten points, but did get a double double pulling down 16 points. For the Lakers earlier in the year, a game where Kobe Bryant only scored 18 points might have been trouble. He started out 5-6, but missed all 11 attempts in the second half. The team had enough of a rhythm tonight that every player doing one aspect of the game well was just enough.
The Lakers out-rebounded the Blazers 53-29, only allowing six offensive rebounds. Despite being close down the stretch, the Lakers never trailed and the tempo controlling rebounding has a lot to do with it. The Lakers had 17 offensive rebounds.
The Los Angeles Lakers are hosting the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night at the Staples Center. While the Lakers seem to have finally found a nice groove, the Blazers have been in free fall for much of the season. Through the first half of play in Los Angeles, however, Portland is giving the Lakers a run for their money. At halftime, the Lakers lead, 53-48.
The Lakers jumped out to a huge lead after outscoring Portland in the first quarter, 30-19. Portland would not go away, however, fighting back into the game in the second quarter. The Blazers tied things up 48-48 within the last two minutes, but a three-pointer by Metta World Peace and a dunk by Andrew Bynum put the Lakers back up by five.
Bynum has 16 points and six rebounds through the first half of play.
The Los Angeles Lakers snapped their two-game losing streak with one of their most impressive wins of the season Wednesday night in Dallas, a 109-93 pasting of the Mavericks. The Lakers return home this weekend for a pair of Western Conference battles at Staples Center, beginning Friday night. Here is the Lakers' schedule for the weekend.
Portland Trail Blazers at Lakers (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West): The Blazers opened the season 5-1 and 7-2, but are now just 22-25. The two teams have split a pair of meetings, with each team winning at home. Their final meeting of the season comes in Los Angeles Friday night.
Memphis Grizzlies at Lakers (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West, ESPN): Memphis hung tough without Zach Randolph and currently hold the fifth seed in the Western Conference. With Randolph back, the Grizzlies are a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference. The Lakers have beaten the Grizzlies twice this season.