After having a five-game winning streak snapped, the Portland Trail Blazers responded with a solid effort on Wednesday to get back into the win column.
The Los Angeles Lakers hope to do the same on Friday night as they host the Trail Blazers two days after having their own win streak halted.
The Lakers saw a string of five straight wins stopped on Wednesday with a 126-114 setback to the hosting Denver Nuggets. Los Angeles lost despite 40 points from Kobe Bryant as it allowed a season high in points.
"It seems like we were just a step slow," Bryant said. "We played old and they played with a lot of energy, a lot of youth, got up-and-down, and we just seemed like we were in a lower gear all night."
Pau Gasol had 19 points and Dwight Howard logged 12 points and seven rebounds before getting ejected in the third quarter when he was whistled for a Flagrant 2 foul for a blow to the head of a driving Kenneth Faried.
"It was a hard foul. That's all I know," said Howard. "I've been fouled harder than that before and nobody's ever gotten kicked out of the game for it, but I get penalized for fouling people hard. It's basketball."
The center was fined $35,000 for the foul.
Gasol, meanwhile, is expected to play Friday night despite the team announcing that an MRI on Thursday revealed the forward has plantar fasciitis in his right foot. This comes after he recently returned following an eight-game absence due to tendinitis in both knees.
Gasol's latest injury comes as Steve Nash is set to play in his fourth straight game after missing 24 straight games due to a fractured left leg suffered in a 116-106 loss at Portland on Oct. 31.
Bryant had 30 points and six rebounds in that loss, while Howard ended with 33 points and 14 rebounds. Still, the Lakers had a two-game series winning streak end, but try to record their fifth consecutive home victory over the Trail Blazers.
Keeping Bryant hot will be key to that. He leads the NBA with 30.2 points per game and has netted at least 30 in 10 straight games, the second-longest such streak of his career. Bryant logged 16 games in a row with at least 30 from Jan. 29-Feb. 28, 2003.
The Trail Blazers look to start a new winning streak after having their five- game run ended on Sunday in the opener of a home-and-home set with the Sacramento Kings.
Back in Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge, J.J. Hickson and Damian Lillard all posted double-doubles in a 109-91 win on Wednesday.
Aldridge finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds, Hickson contributed 17 points and 14 boards, and Lillard had 17 points and 11 assists to go along with eight boards.
"We didn't change any schemes, I just thought we executed out defense better," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "We made it a priority to keep the ball in front of us, keep the ball out of the paint and our pick-and-roll defense was a little bit better."
Nicolas Batum added 18 points, six rebounds and five assists in the victory.
Hickson, meanwhile, has nine straight double-doubles, the longest such streak for a Trail Blazer since Terry Porter's nine in a row from Jan. 23-Feb. 10, 1987.
Portland is set to play five of its next six on the road and is 4-9 as the guest this season.