The streak continues…now it’s at four. And it’s not the kind of streak the Lakers were hoping for, it’s a streak of losing. The team’s problems continued Wednesday night in Houston, as the Rockets rallied in the fourth quarter, and beat the Lakers 109-99 at the Toyota Center
The Lakers haven’t lost this many games in a row since April of 2007, when they were a team barely scraping to make the playoffs, not the two-time defending NBA champions. But that’s the reality of the situation right now and certainly nobody in the league is going to feel sorry for them.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 27 points, to go along with four rebounds, four assists, and four steals. But really Lamar Odom had the best night for the Lakers, scoring 25 points on 11-16 from the floor, and grabbing 11 rebounds.
In what has been a familiar theme for the Lakers during this stretch, their defense let them down again when they needed it most. Leading by nine midway through the final quarter 89-80, the Rockets got hot from the three-point line, led by Shane Battier who was the hero late.
Battier scored 11 points in the final 2:30 of the game, including two three-pointers that put the Rockets up 105-99 with under a minute left. Bryant attempted to get the Lakers back in the game with some desperation three-pointers but was unable to connect, and the Rockets made foul shots down the stretch for the win.
Kevin Martin led the Rockets with 22 points, Battier scored 17, including 4-6 from beyond the arc. Luis Scola added 14 points, and 9 rebounds.
Pau Gasol, who again looked tired from all the heavy minutes he has been playing, complained of a tight hamstring in the second half, but did finish out the game for the Lakers. It was a struggle all night for the Spaniard however, as he managed a season-low eight points and nine rebounds in just under 39 minutes.
The lone bright spot for the Lakers on this night was the play of the bench. Matt Barnes was a spark in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter when they Lakers went up by nine. He scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Shannon Brown added 11 points.
The Rockets shot a sizzling 50.6% from the field, and 10-22 (45.5%) from the three-point line. The Lakers, who were over 50% for much of the game, shot just 45.5% from the field and hit only 5-16 (31.3%) of their three-point attempts. The Rockets also played without center Yao Ming, and point guard Aaron Brooks, both recovering from leg injuries.
The Lakers try to get back on track Friday at home against the struggling Sacramento Kings. And with the way thing are going, nothing looks like a sure thing anymore.