Kobe Bryant scored 40 points, Dwight Howard had 19 points and 16 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers capped a trying week with a gritty 111-107 victory over the slumping Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
Hours after longtime Lakers owner Jerry Buss was buried, and a day after a moving memorial service punctuated by eulogies from Bryant and other franchise greats, the team got back to basketball with a much-needed victory at Staples Center.
Bryant scored 11 points in the final 5½ minutes and the Lakers won for the seventh time in 10 games. They remained ninth in the Western Conference playoff race, 3½ games behind Houston for the final spot with 26 remaining. Portland trails Los Angeles by 1½ games.