LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant’s streak of 10 straight 30-point games ended only because he spent the fourth quarter on the bench alongside Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in a blowout win.
The way the Los Angeles Lakers are playing lately, Bryant has reason to hope he’ll spend less time cramming boxscores and more time riding the pine.
Howard had 21 points and 14 rebounds, Bryant scored 27 points and the Lakers never trailed in their sixth win in seven games, 104-87 over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
Pau Gasol had 15 points and nine rebounds as the Lakers closed out their 2012 schedule by climbing back to .500 (15-15) in their rocky season. Los Angeles had little trouble rolling past the Blazers, taking a 20-point lead in the first half and methodically dissecting Portland’s defense with another fluid offensive performance.
“It was just energy," Bryant said. “We’re playing really well. We’ve just got to keep it going."
The Lakers earned an easy fourth quarter with dominance in the first three, when they resembled the offensive powerhouse everybody expected to see in purple and gold this year.
Nash’s playmaking again set an impressive tone for the Lakers, who outrebounded the Blazers 52-44 and took a 27-point lead late while scoring 23 fast-break points. Nash had 10 assists and six points while playing just 27 minutes in his fourth game back from a seven-week absence with a small fracture in his leg, the result of a collision with Portland’s Damian Lillard on Oct. 31 in Nash’s second game with the Lakers.
The biggest impact was made by Howard, who played with noticeable urgency on both ends after a lackluster outing in Denver two days ago, blocking three shots and even hitting four straight free throws when Portland briefly played Hack-a-Howard with the 50 percent foul shooter in the second quarter.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points before sitting out the final minutes with a bruised chest for cold-shooting Portland, which lost for just the second time in eight games. Los Angeles’ defense held Lillard, Portland’s star rookie, to 11 points on four-for-17 shooting.
“They just outworked us from top to bottom and played harder than us," Lillard said. “And because of how aggressive they were, they made shots. They scored transition points, and they’re not even a running team."
Will Barton scored 11 points for Portland and Nicolas Batum added 10. Aldridge kept the Blazers fairly competitive during the first three quarters, but his teammates combined for 24-of-70 shooting and couldn’t keep up after Aldridge sat down.
“It happened on a drive to the basket against Dwight when I tried to dunk it," Aldridge said. “I was exposed, and I got hit on a soft spot on my chest. I came down and I couldn’t really breathe. I’m a little sore and I’ll probably be worse tomorrow, but I’ll be OK."
In other games on Friday:
NEW YORK — Brooklyn gave P.J. Carlesimo a victory in his debut and Charlotte a 17th straight loss, getting 26 points and 11 rebounds from Brook Lopez.
INDIANAPOLIS — George Hill scored 22 points, including three 3-pointers, and led Indiana over Phoenix.
WASHINGTON — Jordan Crawford scored 27 points, and worst-in-the-NBA Washington showed it can still win a game every once in a while, breaking an eight-game losing streak with a victory over Orlando.
CLEVELAND — Jeff Teague scored a career-high 27 points, and Atlanta scored the game’s final nine points to beat Cleveland.
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Will Bynum had 25 points and 10 assists, leading another spirited performance by the Detroit reserves, and the Pistons beat short-handed Miami despite 35 points by LeBron James.
SAN ANTONIO — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined to score 84 points, and San Antonio snapped Houston’s five-game winning streak.
NEW ORLEANS — DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points, Kyle Lowry had two big baskets in overtime, and Toronto held off New Orleans.
DALLAS — Danilo Gallinari scored a career-high 39 points, and Denver spoiled Dirk Nowitzki’s first home game since returning from knee surgery by beating Dallas.
SALT LAKE CITY — Chris Paul scored 29 points and the Los Angeles Clippers rallied from a 19-point deficit in the third quarter to beat Utah, stretching their winning streak to 16 games.
OAKLAND, Calif. — David Lee had 25 points and 12 rebounds, one of six Golden State players in double figures, and the Warriors held off a late charge in the fourth quarter to beat Philadelphia.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — James Johnson made a 3-pointer at the buzzer, lifting Sacramento to a victory over New York after blowing an early 27-point lead.