Kobe Bryant said Pau Gasol has been a beast for the Los Angeles Lakers in their quest for a playoff spot.
With just three games left in the regular season -- all at home -- the Lakers hope to maintain their animalistic side and will start the homestand Friday night versus the playoff-bound Golden State Warriors.
Gasol is averaging 16.4 ppg in his last eight with four double-doubles in that span and recorded 23 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in Wednesday's 113-106 victory at Portland. Gasol has played nine games since missing 20 straight due to injury.
"Gasol's been a beast for a while now," said Bryant, who scored 47 points against the Blazers and played all 48 minutes. "We've really been going to him down low and he's been making great plays, not only for himself but for others."
Bryant made 14-of-27 shots, sank all 18 of his free throws, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out five assists and had three steals. Bryant's 47 points were the most by a visiting player in Portland since Larry Bird scored 47 in an overtime game on Valentine's Day in 1986. Bryant has eight 40-point games this season and 120 in his Hall of Fame career.
"He's determined to get us in the playoffs," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said of the five-time champion. "What he is doing is phenomenal."
Dwight Howard ended with 20 points and 10 boards for the Lakers, who have won five of six and sit just a game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot in the West.
Los Angeles has prevailed in each of its last three home games and will also host San Antonio and Houston.
Golden State failed to keep the momentum going from capturing a playoff berth and dropped a 116-97 decision to the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday night in the finale of a three-game homestand.
Steph Curry netted 22 points and Jarrett Jack scored 19 for the Warriors, who were coming off a victory over Minnesota on Tuesday to secure the franchise's first playoff appearance since the 2006-07 campaign. The Warriors shot 44 percent for the game and had won eight of 11 games.
"To perform like that on our home court is tough to swallow," Curry said.
David Lee had another double-double -- his league-leading 54th -- and contributed 13 points and 11 rebounds for Golden State, which is sixth in the Western Conference -- one-half game ahead of Houston, The Rockets will host the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night.
The Warriors will host San Antonio on Monday before closing out the regular season Wednesday at Portland.
Golden State has lost two of three matchups with the Lakers this season and 18 of the last 20 meetings between the Pacific rivals. The Warriors have struggled on the road against L.A., losing nine in a row, 18 of 19 and 25 of their last 27 trips to Hollywood.