- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 11, 2009

PORTLAND, ORE. (AP) - Brandon Roy had 24 points and eight assists, and the Portland Trail Blazers held off the Los Angeles Lakers 106-98 on Friday night.

Kobe Bryant scored 32 points for the Lakers, but missed a key 3-pointer, had a crucial turnover and was off on a jumper in the final minute. It was Portland’s eighth straight victory over the Lakers at the Rose Garden.

The Lakers played without coach Phil Jackson, who didn’t travel with the team because of pain in his lower right leg, and fell 1 1/2 games behind Cleveland for the best record in the NBA and home-court advantage throughout the postseason.

Assistant Kurt Rambis replaced the 63-year-old Jackson. The Hall of Famer will rejoin the team for practice on Saturday and isn’t expected to miss any more games. The pain and swelling in his leg is caused by plantar fasciitis.

Portland remained tied with San Antonio as it tries for home court in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

The Blazers held a narrow lead throughout most of the fourth quarter. Bryant pulled the Lakers into a 91-all tie with 5:15 to go, but Steve Blake answered with his own jumper for the Blazers.

Roy’s pull-up jumper with 3:18 left put Portland ahead 99-96. After Bryant made a pair of free throws to narrow it again, Blake hit another long jumper to give the Blazers a 101-98 lead with 1:57 left.

Blake made one of two free throw attempts with 42 seconds left to make it 102-98 before Bryant missed a 3-pointer on the other end.

Rudy Fernandez also managed just one of two free throws but Travis Outlaw pulled down a key rebound off Bryant’s miss and made a pair of foul shots to make it 105-98. He made one more in the final seconds for the final margin.

Portland was coming off a 95-83 victory over the Spurs on Wednesday during which the Blazers erased a 19-point deficit. Because the Blazers won the series with San Antonio, they’ll hold the tiebreaker should both finish with identical records.

The Lakers beat the Blazers twice this season at Staples Center, but Portland took the first game at the Rose Garden, 111-94. The victory was memorable because of a scary injury to Fernandez.

Fernandez was fouled hard by Trevor Ariza on a fast break and was carried from the arena on a stretcher, his neck in a brace. He was hospitalized overnight.

Ariza was booed by the sellout crowd at the Rose Garden, but he still didn’t have quite the negative reaction reserved for Bryant.

Fernandez and Roy hit consecutive 3-pointers, and Outlaw added a reverse layup to give the Blazers a 32-25 lead early in the second quarter.

Bryant sparked a turnaround with a 3-pointer that gave the Lakers a 42-38 lead. His two free throws extended the lead to 50-40 late in the half.

But Portland went on a 9-0 run late that closed the Blazers to 50-49. Sasha Vujacic hit a 3-pointer to make it 53-49 for the Lakers at the half.

The Blazers reclaimed the lead and stretched it to 83-77 on Greg Oden’s dunk.

Notes:@ Trail Blazers forward Martell Webster will miss the playoffs because of a lingering foot fracture that has kept him out for most of this season. Webster had surgery to repair the stress fracture in his left foot in the preseason. He appeared briefly in one game in December but aggravated the injury.

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