Lakers 109, Rockets 101
The Los Angeles Lakers were happy with their bounce-back win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night after an ugly loss to Oklahoma City a night before even if coach Phil Jackson wasn't overly impressed.
Pau Gasol scored a season-high 30 points and the Lakers beat the short-handed Rockets 109-101. Houston, playing without Kevin Martin and Shane Battier, stayed with the Lakers early, but was simply outmanned and faded in its fourth consecutive loss.
``It was real good,'' Kobe Bryant said. ``We really wanted to come out and play well especially after the showing we had last night.''
Jackson was disappointed that his team let a 20-point lead at the end of the third quarter dwindle to single digits in the fourth.
``I told them I'm not happy with the win, but we won the game,'' he said. ``We get outscored 32-20 in the fourth quarter. You don't want to finish a game like that.''
The Lakers used a 20-0 run in the last 6 minutes of the second quarter to take a commanding lead and didn't trail after that en route to their eighth win in nine games.
``Those last minutes of the second quarter gave us the lead and gave us momentum to kind of put them away,'' Gasol said. ``I was glad to see that ending of the half because we don't do that very often.''
Los Angeles had no trouble bouncing back after its 91-75 loss to the Thunder when it scored its fewest points of the season and shot just 39 percent from the field.
The Lakers surpassed that point total by the 5-minute mark of the third quarter after a jump shot by Bryant. It didn't hurt that they shot better than 57 percent against Houston.
Bryant, who went to the bench with 5 1/2 minutes left, came up one assist shy of the Lakers' first triple-double of the season, finishing with 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His assists were two more than Los Angeles had the previous night when it set a season low with seven.
Los Angeles led by 15 when Bryant went out and Houston made a run late to cut the lead to single digits for the first time since the second quarter but it was too late.
Luis Scola led Houston with 28 points and 10 rebounds, and Aaron Brooks added 26 points.
The Rockets were up by one almost halfway through the second quarter before the 20-0 run fueled by eight points by Gasol to take a 62-43 lead. Houston missed 10 shots in that almost 6-minute span and didn't score again until Scola hit a jump shot seconds before halftime that made it 62-45 at the break.
``It's pretty simple. We just had a bad second quarter,'' Houston coach Rick Adelman said. ``They turned up their defense. They got very physical. We fell into the trap.''
That scoring drought left the Rockets with just 11 points in the second quarter, a season low for that quarter.
``It was a good defensive quarter,'' Jackson said. ``Obviously 11 points in a quarter is a number we value. I think it changed the game immediately.''
Houston got within 11 points twice in the third quarter, but the Lakers answered both times, the second time scoring seven straight points capped by Bryant's fadeaway that pushed it to 79-61.
Lamar Odom had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers, Derek Fisher tied a season high with 15 points, and Jordan Farmar added 14 points.
Los Angeles' Ron Artest was shaken up when he and Trevor Ariza got tangled up chasing a loose ball in the third quarter. Artest fell to the floor and clutched his left ankle as the home crowd, mad that he left Houston for the Lakers, booed loudly. Artest hobbled off the court after a couple of minutes as both players were called for fouls.
Artest, who finished with seven points, was back on the court and appeared to be OK after a timeout. He said his heel was hurting a bit at the time, but that he was fine after walking it off.
NOTES: Rookie Jermaine Taylor made his first career start on Saturday for Houston and had a career-high 15 points. ... The Houston Yates high school basketball team was honored during a timeout for recently winning its second straight state championship in the state's second largest classification. The team has won 58 straight games and set a Texas record by scoring 170 points in a game in January.