L.A. Lakers 111, Houston 104
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 7 (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant
, Tracy McGrady
and Bob Sura
provided a strong dose of relief to the tsunami victims in
Southeast Asia based on their efforts. But only Bryant was able
to get a win.
Bryant scored 27 points and had 10 assists as the Los Angeles
Lakers held on for a 111-104 victory over the Houston Rockets.
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Bryant, McGrady and Sura will donate a total of $73,000 to the
UNICEF Relief Fund -- $1,000 for each point they scored. The
trio shined in a well played game that featured a combined 51
assists against just 13 turnovers.
"I just wanted to go out there and play the game the right way,"
Bryant said. "It was fortunate for us that we were able to do
a great thing and win the game."
The Lakers raced to a 61-37 halftime lead as Bryant scored 18
points in the first half, including 15 in the second quarter. He
was scoreless in the third, when the Rockets made a big charge,
but had nine more in the fourth to hold off another Houston
"That is just great ball movement," Bryant said when asked of
all five Los Angeles starters reaching double figures.
"Everybody is a threat. They come back to me later in the
offense and I go on the attack."
After McGrady's layup cut the Rockets' deficit to 96-88 with
5:33 left, Bryant retaliated with a powerful reverse jam just 21
seconds later, blowing past McGrady to end the Lakers' 4:18
Bryant, who entered leading the league with 4.7 turnovers per
game, had just one through the first three quarters and
delivered the decisive assist with 1:07 left.
"We are fighting for every game," Bryant said. "It is an uphill
battle for us, but we seem to rise to the challenge and every
time we have needed a big win, we got it."
After Houston got within 106-100 on another layup by McGrady,
Bryant drew a host of defenders and found Lamar Odom
wide-open 3-pointer and a nine-point advantage.
"We needed that shot right there," said Odom, who scored 20
points and pulled down 12 rebounds. "I just concentrated,
focused on the rim and knocked it down. We played good team
defense and any time you play good defense throughout the whole
game, you can wear a team down. We jabbed them enough just to
Lakers coach Rudy Tomjanovich
improved to 2-0 against his former
"A very big win, biggest win to date," Tomjanovich said. "The
Minnesota game (Monday) will be the next biggest win. That is
what we call a 'double game' -- Western Conference teams fighting
for a playoff spot. We had a win (in Houston) earlier in the
year. It's very important that you try to win the series. It
knocks them back a whole game."
McGrady scored 26 points and Yao Ming
added 25, including 18 in
the second half. Sura flirted with a triple-double, finishing
with 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
Despite the Rockets' 25 assists against five turnovers, coach
Jeff Van Gundy
was not impressed with his team's effort.
"Offensively, we played better in the second half," Van Gundy
said. "But defensively, we didn't play any better, so it didn't
really change much. We just scored better.
"You've got to give them credit. They played well. They were
efficient and they played a lot harder than we did. We were
outcompeted and we had no energy."
Sura was satisfied with his effort to help the tsunami victims.
"Their lives have really been uprooted and a lot has been taken
away from them," Sura said. "So a little donation to help out
and help get their lives back in order. It makes you feel good
inside when you are able to help."
Houston has lost consecutive games for the first time since
dropping five straight from Nov. 23-Dec. 2.