LOS ANGELES – Pau Gasol had 20 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists while completing his fourth career triple-double by the third quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers easily improved to 7-0 for the fifth time in franchise history with a 121-96 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night.
Lamar Odom had 21 points and 12 rebounds, Kobe Bryant scored 12 points and Ron Artest played stringent defense on Portland star Brandon Roy during a smooth night of work for the Lakers, who led by 24 points in the first half and 29 down the stretch while outrebounding the Blazers 49-25.
Andre Miller scored 20 points and Nicolas Batum added 17 for the Blazers, who lost for just the second time in their last six meetings with the Lakers.
Shannon Brown hit three 3-pointers while scoring 15 points for the Lakers, who also started 7-0 two years ago and in 2001-02, when they began their roll to their first threepeat under coach Phil Jackson. Los Angeles' only better starts were in 1987-88 (8-0) and 1997-98 (11-0).
Gasol clinched his first triple-double since Feb. 17, 2009, with an assist on Artest's basket with 3:10 left in the third quarter. With a dominant performance down low and on the perimeter, Gasol nearly hit the marks during Los Angeles' dominant first half alone, racking up 14 points, 11 rebounds — the same number as Portland's entire roster — and seven assists.
The Lakers are leaning heavily on the Spaniard while starting center Andrew Bynum is recovering from knee surgery, but a summer away from basketball left Gasol energized for the task.
Two nights after struggling to hold off Toronto while getting outrebounded by 18 boards, the Lakers expected their biggest test of the young season from the Blazers, who were off to a 5-2 start. Portland has been consistently better during recent head-to-head matchups with Los Angeles, which hasn't won its season series with the Blazers since 2004-05.
But this one was no contest: The two-time defending champions improved to 5-0 at home with a comfortable lead throughout the final 3½ quarters, moving the ball with veteran ease and holding the Blazers' top two scorers — Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge — to eight points apiece.
After beating Toronto at home one night earlier, the Blazers were sluggish from the opening tip. Los Angeles led 27-12 late in the first quarter, and Artest shut out Roy until the 22-points-per-game scorer hit four free throws in the final 1:42 of the half after Artest had checked out to rest.
Batum scored 11 points in the opening minutes of the third quarter to keep it close, and Roy finally managed his first field goal with less than 5½ minutes left in the quarter.
Bryant played just 26 minutes and iced his right knee on the bench during the game. His lowest-scoring game of the season prevented Bryant and Gasol from becoming the first Lakers teammates to open a season scoring 20 points apiece in seven straight games since Jerry West and Elgin Baylor did it in 1961.
NOTES: The Lakers could match the second-best start in franchise history when they host Minnesota on Tuesday night to end a three-game homestand. ... Jackson's personal best start to an NBA season came in 1996-97, when the Chicago Bulls opened 12-0. ... Fans near courtside included Justin Timberlake, Chevy Chase, Jaleel White, former Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, movie producer Brian Grazer and Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Brian Price. The rookie from UCLA went on injured reserve last week.