LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Shaquille O'Neal had 29 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks and Kobe Bryant also scored 29 points as the Los Angeles Lakers began their quest for a third straight title with a 98-87 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Lakers have defeated Portland in the playoffs twice en route to back-to-back championships. They have been led by the dynamic duo of O'Neal and Bryant, who opened the season in strong fashion and led Los Angeles to another convincing win over the Blazers.
O'Neal showed no effects of the injured toe that hampered him in the preseason. He made just 10-of-23 shots from the floor and 9-of-16 free throws but controlled the glass and the paint.
"My toe is sore, it feels bad, I'm about 85 percent, not great shape," he said. "I'd rate our game tonight as a 'C.'" Bryant shot 11-of-24 and pulled down seven rebounds for Los Angeles, which never trailed and won its seventh straight season opener.
"We're definitely a better team than we were at the start of last year," he said. "Potentially, we could be the best we've ever been."
The Lakers led by as many as 17 points in the first half and had a 66-54 cushion in the third quarter before Portland went on a 12-2 run to make it 68-66 with 1:53 left.
Robert Horry followed with a 3-pointer and Bryant scored eight straight points to close the period, including a 3-pointer with three seconds left that gave Los Angeles an 11-point cushion heading into the final quarter.
"He was patient with the game and it just came to him," Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said. "He had some things happen that were just perfect. Guys that score find ways to have a flurry and create those kinds of situations."
Portland never got the deficit into single digits over the final 12 minutes.
Horry was the only other Laker in double figures with 10 points and Rick Fox scored nine before fouling out. Horry made 2-of-3 3-pointers for Los Angeles, which was 7-of-16 from the arc.
The Blazers were outscored in the paint, 44-30, and on the fast break, 25-10, in the debut of rookie coach Maurice Cheeks.
Rasheed Wallace had 22 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks for Portland. Damon Stoudamire added 20 points and six assists and Derek Anderson contributed 17 points before leaving in the third quarter with a sprained ankle.
"I have no idea how long it will take to heal," said Anderson, who has been plagued by ankle injuries throughout his career. "It's the same ankle I've injured before. It really hurts. I'll have X-rays and see the doctor (Wednesday)."
Shawn Kemp contributed 12 points off the bench and Bonzi Wells returned from a knee injury and scored seven points in 20 minutes for the Blazers.
"I went to coach Cheeks just before we went back on the court," Wells said. "I know we were shorthanded and then Derek got hurt. I'm a little rusty, but I felt pretty good."
Los Angeles jumped out to a 21-5 lead, making seven of its first nine shots while the Blazers missed nine of their first 11. O'Neal and Bryant each scored six points in the opening seven minutes and the Lakers had a 29-20 lead after 12 minutes.
Portland scored five of the first seven points in the second quarter, but O'Neal answered with six in a row to spark an 11-0 run. The burst was capped by a 3-pointer by Mitch Richmond, who scored five points in his Lakers' debut. That gave Los Angeles its largest lead at 42-25 with 7:15 left before halftime.