From Brett Polakoff, Pro Basketball Talk: The criticism for this Lakers team, which has struggled mightily in consecutive nights against teams that have long since been out of the playoff picture, is both real and well-justified. But regardless of the poor starts, even worse team defense, and a propensity to play down to their level of competition, the reality is that L.A. is being dragged to victory by one of the league’s best players, and that’s been pretty exciting to watch.Kobe Bryant followed up his 23 point fourth quarter on Tuesday with a 47 point effort in Portland, which was enough to lead his team to a 113-106 victory that pushed the Lakers a full game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings.
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: Fifteen times, the Los Angeles Lakers have dealt with the difficulty of playing professional basketball contests on back to back nights. Fifteen times, they have failed to win both games. Tonight was their 16th and last opportunity, and they needed badly to be successful to keep Utah at bay in the race for the last playoff spot left. You knew, even against an under-manned and unimpressive Portland team with nothing to play for, it would take a special effort to get the job done. You just couldn’t have known how special it would be. Kobe Bean Black Mamba Vino Bryant. Take a bow.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: Kobe Bryant emerged from the showers late Wednesday night and limped through the nearly empty visitors locker room at the Rose Garden, stopping briefly on his way to the training room to change so he could acknowledge Metta World Peace.”You always backed me,” Bryant said with intense appreciation. Bryant was winding down from what can only be described as an epic performance by the 17-year veteran — a season-high 47 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks and 3 steals with only 1 turnover, a statistical line never before recorded in the league, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.And all those stats paled in comparison to Bryant’s playing all 48 minutes, each and every second of the game, to help L.A. sweep a back-to-back for the first time in 16 tries this season and beat the Trail Blazers 113-106 in Portland, where the Lakers had lost 12 of their previous 14 games.
From Ben Bolch, LA Times: Kobe Bryant pumped his fist as he raced down the court in the final minutes, allowing himself a moment to celebrate a performance that was implausible even by his standards. His Lakers teammates extended high-fives on the way to the timeout huddle, about the only way Bryant was leaving the court in a game his team had to have.
From Eric Freeman, Yahoo Sports: The Los Angeles Lakers are fighting to grab the West’s last spot in the playoffs and rescue their season from utter disaster. After Kobe Bryant’s fourth-quarter heroics in Tuesday night’s win over theNew Orleans Hornets, the Lakers were faced with a road game against the Portland Trail Blazers on the second night of a back-to-back. A win would push them a game ahead of the Utah Jazz — a loss would drop them back into a tie for eighth place (which means missing out on the playoffs, because the Jazz hold the tiebreaker advantage). That’s a stiff challenge for an aging team, particularly given the heavy minutes logged by Bryant and others in this final push towards the postseason.