Friday , Apr , 14 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Lakers welcome Blazers to LA

(Sports Network) – The Los Angeles Lakers close in on returning to the
playoffs, as they host the Portland Trail Blazers tonight at the Staples
Center.

The Lakers, who finished just 34-48 last season and did not qualify for the
postseason, are No. 7 in the Western Conference playoff race. They can clinch
a playoff spot with a win and a loss by Utah, which plays at New
Orleans/Oklahoma City this evening.

On Tuesday, All-Star Kobe Bryant poured in 31 points and dished out five
assists to lead the Lakers past the disappointing Golden State Warriors,
111-100, at the Staples Center.

Smush Parker added 18 points and four steals in the win over Golden State for
the Lakers, who have won two straight and eight of their last 11 games
overall. Lamar Odom recorded his first triple-double for the Lakers with 15
points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, while Kwame Brown also netted 15 and
pulled down 15 boards in the victory.

The Lakers are 24-14 as the host this season. They have won three in a row at
home.

The Trail Blazers have lost 14 in a row on the road. Their last win as the
visitor was on February 13th at Charlotte. They are a brutal 6-33 away from
home this season.

Portland enters tonight’s contest on a four-game losing streak. On Wednesday,
Elton Brand scored 25 points to lead the Clippers over the Trail Blazers,
97-93, at the Staples Center.

Rookie Jarrett Jack tied his season-high of 20 points in the loss to the
Clippers for the Trail Blazers, who have dropped 15 of their last 16 games
overall. Viktor Khryapa scored 14, while Martell Webster and Theo Ratliff both
netted 11in defeat.

The Blazers have won two of the three meetings between the clubs this season.

Portland has lost two straight and eight of its last nine at the Lakers.

LAL POR