Lakers ride huge 1st quarter past Blazers 103-92

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By GREG BEACHAM, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant scored 28 points, Andrew Bynum had 14 points and 19 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers roared to a 30-point lead early in the second quarter before holding on for a 103-92 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.

Pau Gasol had 16 points and 12 rebounds in his first game since Bryant criticized the Lakers' front office for allowing Gasol to dangle amid trade rumors.

Neither star appeared distracted by the Lakers' latest off-court saga as Los Angeles reeled off a 37-4 run after Raymond Felton's game-opening 3-pointer for Portland.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum scored 18 points apiece but the Blazers couldn't quite recover from the lowest-scoring first quarter in club history, getting no closer than 10 points late in their fourth loss in six games.

The Lakers scored 21 consecutive points during that opening surge and went on to their 14th victory in the last 15 home games. One night after giving up a season-high 63 points in the first half of a discouraging loss at Phoenix, the Lakers yielded a season-low 30 to Portland.

Former Blazers guard Steve Blake hit five 3-pointers and scored 17 points in his biggest offensive game since joining the Lakers before last season.

Portland gradually trimmed the Lakers' lead to 84-74 in the fourth quarter, but Bryant and Derek Fisher returned to the lineup and hit big shots. Lakers fans briefly chanted "World Peace! World Peace!" after Metta World Peace hit four of six free throws when Portland fouled him repeatedly in the final minutes.

The Lakers showed no signs of disturbance after Bryant's postgame rant in Phoenix one night earlier. Bryant said he wished general manager Mitch Kupchak would decide whether to trade Gasol, saying nearly three months of uncertainty and rumors are affecting the Spanish 7-footer's play.

Kupchak responded by issuing a statement 45 minutes before Monday's game, saying he had to explore all trade options to improve the Lakers, even if Bryant didn't like it.

For all of the Lakers' public disagreements and inconsistent play, they're still comfortably in the Western Conference playoff picture at 19-13 near the midway point of the 66-game regular season.

Portland went scoreless for more than five minutes after Felton's 3-pointer on its opening possession, missing six straight shots. Los Angeles missed its first six shots, but quickly established dominance down low with its two 7-footers.

The Blazers' deficit got ugly while they missed 19 of 21 shots spanning the first two quarters, including another 8 minutes of scoreless play from midway through the first quarter until Batum's three-point play early in the second. Los Angeles went from a 16-7 lead to a 37-7 margin.

The first quarter also was the best defensive performance of the season by the Lakers.

Portland scored the final seven points of the first half to trim the Lakers' lead to 52-30. The Blazers finally got rolling with the Lakers up 67-39 early in the third quarter, scoring 11 straight points to start a 35-17 run.

NOTES: Bryant got his seventh technical foul of the season in the fourth quarter for punching the ball away after an offensive foul. If Bryant gets 13 Ts in this shortened season, he will be suspended for one game. ... Portland got more terrible news before the game on C Greg Oden. The former No. 1 pick had microfracture surgery on his left knee earlier Monday, keeping him out for yet another entire season. "I was told that they were basically going to go in and clean his knee," coach Nate McMillan said. "Any time you go in like that, you're looking to see if something else needs to be repaired. So when you get the call about the microfracture surgery, it's one of those 'Why me?' moments. I know he's saying that." Oden hasn't played since Dec. 5, 2009. ... Fans near courtside included Ashton Kutcher, Anthony Kiedis, Robert Wuhl and directors Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay.

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