Rockets-Lakers Preview

A torn ligament in his right wrist may be to blame for Kobe

Bryant’s shooting struggles the last two games, but the Los Angeles

Lakers star doesn’t plan on altering his style of play.

Bryant and the Lakers look to win their fourth straight home

game Tuesday night when they host the Houston Rockets.

After averaging 27.8 points and shooting 48.1 percent in Los

Angeles’ first four contests, Bryant struggled in the Lakers’

home-and-home split with Denver over the weekend, averaging 16.5

points on 26.1 percent shooting.

Bryant became the sixth player in NBA history to score 28,000

points in Sunday’s 99-90 road loss to the Nuggets, but it was an

otherwise disappointing performance. He shot 6 of 28, finished with

16 points and had six turnovers, but refused to apologize for

taking so many shots.

“I do what I do,” Bryant, who tore the ligament in his wrist

during the preseason, said Monday. “If guys are open, I kick it to

them, if they’re not, I shoot it. I play my game.”

Coach Mike Brown expressed no problems with the shot selection,

only praising Bryant’s toughness.

“He’s got to continue to figure out how to stay in rhythm or how

to get in rhythm with that wrist. He might not say it, but try to

hold a microphone with a torn ligament, let alone shoot it and make

sure you get a follow through,” Brown said. “That’s a bear. That’s

a bear.”

Playing for the fourth time in six nights could put additional

strain on Bryant’s wrist, but he did average 28.7 points per game

against Houston in 2010-11, as the Lakers (3-3) took two of three

in the season series.

Houston (2-2) has alternated home wins with road losses to open

the season, most recently defeating Atlanta 95-84 on Saturday.

Kevin Martin scored 27 points and Kyle Lowry had a career-high 18

assists for the Rockets, who led from start to finish.

Houston has allowed 108.5 points per game in road losses to

Orlando and Memphis, but has limited the opposition to an average

of 84.5 points in its two home victories.

“I think so far in the season, we’ve been showing two faces,”

said forward Luis Scola, who had a season-high 21 points against

the Hawks. “In the two home games we’ve won … we focused on

defense … In the two games we played on the road, we didn’t play

that way, that’s why we won those two games and that’s why we lost

the other two.”

Houston will need to perform better away from home as it opens a

three-game trip with back-to-back games at Staples Center. The

Rockets will take on the Clippers on Wednesday before opening a

home-and-home series with Oklahoma City on Friday.

Houston will also be looking for Martin to stay hot. After

shooting 1 of 10 and finishing with four points in a season-opening

loss to Orlando, he’s averaged 24.3 points while shooting 54.2

percent overall and going 13 of 25 from 3-point range.

Martin averaged 26.0 points against the Lakers last season.

The Rockets have lost three straight to the Lakers at Staples

Center and nine of the last 11 overall meetings between the

teams.