Kobe Bryant's belief the Lakers would reach the playoffs was met by enthusiasm by teammates Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.

Bryant's frame of mind Friday night was to turn back the clock, and he willed the Lakers to a 111-107 victory over Portland at Staples Center.

Bryant scored 29 of his season-high 40 points in the second half and the Lakers put a topper on Wednesday's victory over Boston after their return from the All-Star break.

Now, what will see from Bryant? The one who went on an assist binge just before the All-Star break, or the one who threatens to drop 40?

Get ready for a combination.

"I'm just being aggressive," Bryant said. "The first few months I was doing it, getting used to the rhythm, where guys wanted to cut. Then after the break, I've been focusing on doing both.

"It's about finding that balance."

It was the fourth time this season Bryant hit the 40-point mark and the 117 th time in his career.

It was a difficult night for the Lakers to find their equilibrium after an emotional week, but they got a burst from Howard at the outset, Bryant's third-quarter emergence and just enough defense to hold off the team that is in much the same predicament as the Lakers.