The heroes against Houston, Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom.
The Lakers needed an extra five minutes to get it done, but they were able to escape Tuesday night with a 114-106 win over the fiesty Houston Rockets, to avoid a disastrous three-game losing streak at home.
Kobe Bryant had 32 points, 11 assists, and six rebounds on 13-25 from the floor, hitting a floater in the lane with 38 seconds left in overtime to put the Lakers up 110-106, as they held on for the eight-point win that was every bit a grind.
Lamar Odom had his second career 20/20 game, scoring 20 points and grabbing 20 rebounds in a starting role, as the Lakers played without Andrew Bynum who missed the game with a bruised knee. Pau Gasol rebounded from two terrible games to score 26 points and 16 rebounds, including the tie-breaking layup in overtime that put the world champs ahead for good.
The injury-depleted Rockets kept the game close all night. After the Lakers built a 43-31 lead early in the second quarter, Houston quickly fought back and trailed only 54-48 at halftime, and the Lakers never regained that strong momentum again until late in overtime.
In the second half, the Rockets came out fired up, and at one point took a 68-63 lead midway through the third quarter. The Lakers rallied back and held a six-point lead with just over two minutes left in the game. But Houston refused to go away, and tied the game with 5.5 seconds left on a wide-open layup by Luis Scola. Odom then missed an off-balance three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
In the extra session, the Rockets took a 104-100 lead on a jumper by Scola with 2:48 left, before the Lakers went on a 10-2 run, capped off by Bryant’s basket with 38 ticks left. That was enough to get the Lakers the much-needed victory after two very difficult losses to Sacramento and Boston at home.
Kevin Martin led the Rockets with 30 points, and oddly enough was the only Rocket to get to the foul line, hitting 10-11. Luis Scola had 24 points and 15 rebounds, and Aaron Brooks scored 16 off the bench, although he hit just 2-10 from beyond the arc.
The Lakers, who had just 10 assists on Sunday, had 22 against the Rockets. Bryant, who had zero dimes against Boston, had seven alone in the first quarter, as he looked to get his teammates involved early. And this time, they made the shots.
For the game the Lakers shot 48.4% (44-91) from the field, and outrebounded the Rockets 54-44. Gasol and Odom combined for 36 of the 54 boards. The Lakers also had 16 offensive rebounds. But they allowed way too many second-chance points, letting Houston grab 16 offensive rebounds themselves. The second-chance baskets and easy layups made the game a lot closer than it should have been.
The Rockets shot just 43.0% (43-100) from the floor, and took a whopping 38 three-pointers, hitting just 10 (26.3%). In fact Houston’s point guards, Kyle Lowry and Brooks, combined to go a miserable 2-16 from beyond the arc, and just 10-30 from the field overall.
The Lakers’ next game is Thursday night at home against the team with the best record in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs, at an amazing 40-8. The Spurs did lose to Portland 99-86 on Tuesday night however. This will be the second meeting of the year between the two teams. The Spurs dominated the Lakers in the second half in San Antonio en route to a 97-82 win on December 28th.
It is unknown whether Bynum will be back for Thursday’s game, but coach Phil Jackson didn’t sound optimistic, especially with the center’s history of knee problems. Bynum did play in the first game, scoring 10 points off the bench.