The rest of the NBA better be aware of the Los Angeles Lakers if they're starting to find their niche on the road.
Already a dynamic force as the host, the Pacific Division-leading Lakers are back in Hollywood and will entertain the Portland Trail Blazers tonight at Staples Center.
The Lakers are just 10-15 as the guest this season, but have ripped off four of five victories on the road and split a recent tour through Texas against the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks. They ended a two-game slide with Wednesday's 109-93 triumph over the defending champion Mavericks in a bout between the last two NBA kingpins, as Kobe Bryant shot a season-high 61.1 percent (11 of 18) for 30 points and Pau Gasol added 27.
Ramon Sessions added 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting while Matt Barnes finished with 11 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who bounced back from losses against the Utah Jazz and Rockets to win for the sixth time in eight tries. Bryant had some kinds words for Sessions, who was acquired at the trade deadline from Cleveland.
"I've been extremely impressed. He takes a lot of pressure off of me," said Bryant, who leads the NBA with 28.7 ppg.
Los Angeles held on to its lead this time after blowing a 12-point advantage in Houston, and will play two straight and six of the next eight games at home. The third-seeded Lakers are 19-3 at home this season and 13-1 against Western Conference foes as the host.
Portland has been inconsistent no matter which venue it's in, but enters tonight's contest on a winning note. The Trail Blazers, last in the Northwest Division, handed the Memphis Grizzlies a 97-93 setback Thursday at the Rose Garden behind 24 points from Nicolas Batum.
"We want our team identity to be on the defensive end of the floor," said Portland interim head coach Kaleb Canales. "We thought as a staff we came to defend tonight for 48 minutes. We did a good job of executing down the stretch. I thought we were active and we came out and we executed tonight."
Raymond Felton netted 13 points to go with nine assists in the win. The Trail Blazers are 7-17 away from Rip City this season and sit 3 1/2 games off the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference.
After Friday's game against the Lakers, Portland will play three straight and six of seven games as the host. The Blazers are expected to have former Cavaliers forward J.J. Hickson in the lineup tonight after he was claimed off waivers this week. He was in uniform but did not play against the Grizzlies.
Portland and LA have split a pair of meetings this season. The Blazers have dropped three in a row and 17 of 20 matchups as the guest in this series.