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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Houston Rockets 24 26 21 19 95
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 21 23 22 24 99
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Rockets vs. Lakers
Postgame: Dwight Howard
Postgame: Pau Gasol
Postgame: Steve Blake
Postgame: Antawn Jamison
Postgame: Mike D'Antoni
Nightly Notable
Hoop and Harm
Block Party

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Lakers hold off Rockets, take West's 7th seed

By GREG BEACHAM
Posted Apr 18 2013 2:36AM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Dwight Howard had a simple message for the Lakers after Chandler Parsons' 34-foot, line-drive 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer added five more minutes to the final game of Los Angeles' already exhausting regular season.

Nothing has been easy for the Lakers all year long, Howard told his teammates. Why should the finale be any different? With five more minutes of perseverance, the Lakers ended up with quite a reward. After getting up Wednesday morning with no guarantee their season wouldn't end that night, they surged into the seventh playoff spot in the West with a 99-95 overtime victory over the Houston Rockets.

Steve Blake scored 24 points and Pau Gasol added his seventh career triple-double for the Lakers (45-37), who only clinched a postseason berth about 10 minutes before tipoff. Despite Parsons' improbable tying basket, Los Angeles won again without Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, earning a first-round date with second-seeded San Antonio.

"I'm proud of the whole team and the way they stepped up at the end of the year," said Blake, who added seven assists and seven rebounds to cap his second impressive game in Bryant's absence. "We definitely expected more at the beginning of the year, but we're proud we're here. ... I couldn't believe it when a couple of days ago somebody said we even had a chance to be in the seventh spot, and now we're there."

Gasol had 17 points, 20 rebounds and 11 assists in his second triple-double in three games for the Lakers, who avoided the embarrassment of missing the playoffs for just the second time in Bryant's 17-year career.

Howard had 16 points and 18 rebounds for the Lakers, and the All-Star center blocked James Harden's shot in the final seconds of overtime to finish up the Lakers' fifth straight win, their eighth in nine games.

"From where we were 20 or 30 games ago, a seven (seed) is pretty good," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We shouldn't have been in that spot in the first place, but it's our fault."

Antawn Jamison added 16 points as the Lakers won their second straight without Bryant, who tore his Achilles tendon last Friday and watched another game from his home in Orange County. Nash hasn't played in eight games with a hamstring injury, but the Lakers finished the regular season with a gritty comeback win despite Chandler's heroics.

"We've fought through so much adversity already," Gasol said. "We knew we could handle a little more."

Parsons hit a tying 3-pointer from three steps behind the line at the regulation buzzer for the Rockets (45-37), who will face top-seeded Oklahoma City after losing four of six to end the regular season.

Harden scored 30 points and Parsons had 23 for the Rockets, who already knew they were back in the postseason after a three-year absence, but could have ended up in three seedings depending on Wednesday's results. Houston had a shot at the No. 6 spot before Golden State beat Portland earlier, but Los Angeles holds the tiebreaker on the Rockets.

"If we play their pace, their two big guys just control the game after a while," Houston coach Kevin McHale said. "We went through some stretches where we struggled offensively. We were stopping them, but they were just getting second and third shots. That killed us."

Houston led for most of the night before the Lakers went ahead with 6 1/2 minutes to play, but both teams struggled offensively in the final minutes before Parsons ended up alone with the ball near midcourt in the final seconds after a broken-play scramble. His desperate 3-pointer had almost no arch, but dropped in to force overtime.

Neither team made a shot in overtime until Gasol's jumper with 2:26 left, ending a field-goal drought of more than eight minutes for the Lakers. After Jodie Meeks drove the baseline and dunked in the final minute, Howard stepped in front of Harden and blocked the Houston star's drive with 20 seconds left.

Blake and Meeks hit free throws in the final seconds to wrap it up.

"The Lakers did a good job down the stretch, and we didn't do as good of a job," said Jeremy Lin, who had 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting. "We didn't get the looks we wanted to get, and we ended up with a lot of tough shots down the stretch."

The Lakers nursed a small lead over the Jazz (43-39) down the stretch of their tumultuous season, but Utah held the tiebreaker. The Lakers were aware that the Jazz's 86-70 loss in Memphis had clinched Los Angeles' eighth straight postseason berth, but the Lakers still had ample reason to play hard against the Rockets, given their likely preference for facing San Antonio instead of Oklahoma City, which easily ousted the Lakers in last season's second round.

Houston stayed ahead for most of the first 3 1/2 quarters with steady offense from Harden and Parsons, particularly in transition. The Lakers' personnel deficiencies showed in their second game without Bryant, with coach Mike D'Antoni even fielding a backcourt in the first quarter featuring seldom-used Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock, signed from the NBA D-League last weekend.

Houston built its lead up to 11 points in the third quarter, but Los Angeles chipped away steadily in the fourth, going ahead 81-79 on Blake's fourth 3-pointer with 6:36 to play.

NOTES: Howard grabbed his 9,000th career rebound in the first quarter, becoming the youngest player to reach the mark, 14 days faster than Wilt Chamberlain. Howard, who went straight from high school to the NBA, is only the 13th-fastest in terms of games (697). ... Houston has won just one playoff round since 1997. The Lakers haven't been knocked out in the first round of the postseason since 2007. ... Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki of "The Big Bang Theory" attended the game, with Houston native Parsons wearing a Rockets hat.

Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited



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View More Photos
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Points Harden (HOU), 30
Rebounds Gasol, 20
Assists Gasol, 11
Steals Howard, 3
Blocks Howard and Smith (HOU), 4
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike D'Antoni:

On the win:
“Obviously I’m really proud the way for just a month they [Lakers] had to just play in elimination-like games every night, and I think Steve Nash said it best, or Dwight [Howard] I forget which one said but it after they threw in the 3 to tie the game and it went into overtime, he said, ‘It’s been hard all year, this stuffs happened all year, so why was this any different, and it’s not going to be easy and let’s go out and win it,’ and they did. The great thing about it was everybody contributed somebody did something that we got the win, because you can’t shoot 36 percent and make it easy, it’s going to be tough. So we didn’t shoot the ball well, but other than that I thought we had good shots and I thought the guys obviously played hard and we played well defensively again.”

On turning the season around:
“Well we’ve been hurt. We were struggling early everybody and trying to figure it out and you know I’m getting [upset] because I feel like the energy level’s not there. They were hurting. You know Dwight [Howard] was hurting, Pau [Gasol] was hurting and then they started getting better, feeling better and the team starting feeling better about themselves also and our energy level went up and it’s just a good thing it’s coming…”

On clinching the 7th seed:
“From where we 20 or 30 games ago 7 [seed] is pretty good, from where we were. We should’ve been in that spot in the first place, it’s our fault, but at the same time there’s no difference between 8, 7, 6 and 5, you don’t have home-court and it’s just the way it is and we’ll have to go into San Antonio and win one. San Antonio’s a great team and it’s obviously not going to be easy, but like they [Lakers] said it hasn’t been easy all year, so why would it be now.”




Steve Blake:

On tonight’s game:
“It took a total team effort and defensively I think we’re playing really well right now, against one of the best offensive teams in the league. Offensively, we’re sharing the ball and guys are doing a great job. It was a total team effort, everybody is doing great.”

“Like I said, a little bit from everybody. A couple free throws here and there. That was a big drive by Jodie [Meeks] showing his athletism, Dwight [Howard] was huge on defensive plays down the stretch. I don’t even know what to say, I’m just proud to be a Laker.”

On the playoff push and facing the Spurs in the first round:
“It hasn’t been easy; it’s been a crazy year. We’re playing together like a family. We’re going to really have to focus on what we need to do, learn from the things we made mistakes last time we played San Antonio and just go from there.




Pau Gasol:

On how the Lakers came back and won the game:
“We were just playing very disciplined defense. We’ve been very active, we’re communicating and covering for each other, we’re just so locked in defensively that we’ve given ourselves a chance in every game even if offensively we’re not being very effective or sharp at times.”

On key of defense and slowing down the Rockets:
“We just stepped up to the challenge of understanding who they are and what they do and just tried to stop them the best we could. I think we scrambled really well, we hustled, we covered for each other and that’s what we’ve been doing as of late and that’s why we’ve been so successful.”

On San Antonio match-up Sunday:
“We will continue with the spirit that we’ve been playing with. Try to continue and carry the momentum into the playoffs. Understand that it is going to be very difficult. San Antonio is a great team, they’re very experienced, they execute really well, they’re disciplined, extremely well coached and we are going to play on their home court. So we still believe in ourselves. We have to hustle and play with the intensity and focus that we’ve been playing with and we are going to give ourselves a chance. We’re going to stay in games and who knows what’s going to happen.”




Antawn Jamison:

On tonight’s game:
“It [the game] pretty much sums up the whole season. We went through a whole lot of adversity but the character this team showed. We stayed positive, we played together as a team offensively, we got it going a little bit in the second half but the one thing we really needed to count on was being consistent defensively.”

On Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol:
“Right now, they are the two guys that really have to run the ship and we have to do everything possible to make things easy for them and for them to not to have to work as much on both ends of the floor. So collectively, offensively, we have to get some movement. You have to have energy from guys coming off the bench and defensively, we can’t really on Dwight [Howard] and Pau [Gasol] to really control everything so, collectively we have to do it and you’ve seen that the last couple of games.”




Jodie Meeks:

On tonight’s dunk:
“They were trying to run me off the line on that so I was trying to mix it up a little bit. My shot was a little off tonight but I just kept shooting when I was open. I saw a lane and I took it.”

On how roles have changed between Steve Blake and him without Kobe:
“It’s just when somebody is out we have to step up. Can’t make any excuses. There’s a lot more opportunity for me, Steve and the rest of the guys.”

On defense in the second half:
“They have some good players that can square the ball. We tried as best as we could to make it hard for them. They made some tough shots especially at the end but we just took to our principles and we’re lucky they missed.”




Dwight Howard:

On tonight’s game:
“I just think tonight was a hard fought game by both teams. We gave it our all out there. In the first half, they hit a lot of tough shots and we were missing a lot of shots tonight. One thing that was good about it, we never stopped playing. We didn’t allow the misses and the shots that we normally make to affect us as a team. We kept playing great defense, we kept trusting each other, and we got a good win.”

On being in the playoffs:
“Everybody counted us out but one thing that I told the guys tonight was that we’ve been through so much as a team this year, from the injuries to the rumors and everything that has happened. It could have made us separate from each other but we stayed strong, stayed together and we won for each other tonight. So we’re happy that we’re in the playoffs but we’re not done yet.”




Kevin McHale:

On the game:
“No ball movement at all, too sticky. We didn’t get the ball going. We couldn’t keep them off the boards. We had plenty of stops, we chested the run but, we just walked it up. Otherwise we made some bad decisions. Had a few turn overs. But mostly, if we don’t play with pace, their two big guys just control the game after a while. Gasol had a triple double and we had a hard time keeping him off the board. And if we are not attacking and playing before they are back there, we went through some stretches where we struggled offensively. The thing is that we were stopping them, they were just getting second and third shots. They had 24 second chance points that killed us.”

“The ball gets sticky. We work on it and we just have to keep on doing it. Like I say, we go through periods where we do it and periods where we don’t do it. We just have to get into those things. We have talked about moving the ball. Trying to get into some more offence where the ball goes from side to side. Attack. Make the extra pass. But again like I said, it has been that off and on all year long. And part of it is that they play those two bigs so you kind of have to stay big, so your spacing gets a little more jammed up then a lot of the times where we will play smaller and spread the court a little bit more.”

“We have talked about pushing it all the time, we just have to keep doing it. We just have to play our ball for 48 minutes.”




Jeremy Lin:

On tonight’s game:
“One through five we didn’t do a good job. I didn’t do a good job of shooting the three, and I didn’t do a good job of spacing. We really didn’t get anything that we were trying to down the stretch.”

On if the team can use this as a lesson:
“Absolutely; us having a ten point lead and seeing it dwindle, and losing in overtime. It’s just the whole process of understanding what we need to do differently, how to change that, and growing up from failure.”




James Harden:

On tonight’s loss:
“It was my fault; I couldn’t make a shot. All of my shots felt good, it’s just they were short on the front of the rim. A little bit more touch and this is a different ball game, but I’ll take the blame for that one.”

On having all the attention on him in the playoffs:
“It comes with the package. I have to do a good job of handling it well, and making sure I’m doing the right things. Obviously I’m new to this, so I might make some mistakes, but I just have to continue to work at it.”

On what he means by being new to it:
“New as a leader, as a head hauncho guy, having all of the attention on you. Like I said it’s new for me, but I’m just going to keep working and do my best to do a good job at it.”




Chandler Parsons:

On the three he hit at the end of regulation:
“It was just kind of a broken play, and obviously we had to get a three. They were switching out on everything so it’s difficult to get a shot off on the first action, so we moved the ball and we tried multiple attempts at the shot. I didn’t even know Jeremy [Lin] was on the floor when I threw him the ball, but he made a great pass and I just knocked down the shot.”

On the playoff series against the Thunder:
“It’s 0-0, so I’m perfectly happy with going in there and confident in playing against the Thunder. I think we’re better than the eight seed and it was obviously a really tight race so there wasn’t much distance between six and eight. I think we’ll be ready to go, and we’ve beaten them before this year, so that’s a positive sign.”

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ROCKETS-LAKERS PREVIEW

By JEFF BARTL

Posted Apr 16 2013 4:26PM

It's quite simple for the Los Angeles Lakers heading into their regular-season finale Wednesday night.

Beat the Houston Rockets, and the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs is theirs. Lose, and Kobe Bryant may not have to worry about watching his team in the postseason.

Los Angeles could know its postseason fate before they take the court Wednesday, as Utah begins its contest at Memphis 2 1/2 hours before the Lakers and Rockets tip off at Staples Center.

A Jazz loss would give Los Angeles a playoff berth no matter its result, but a Utah victory would force the Lakers (44-37) to knock off Houston to avoid missing the postseason for the first time since 2005.

Los Angeles has won four in a row, but Bryant is facing six-to-nine months of recovery time after having surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon suffered in Friday's 118-116 win over Golden State.

Dwight Howard had 26 points and 17 rebounds while Steve Blake scored a season-high 23 in Sunday's 91-86 home win over San Antonio - Los Angeles' first-round opponent if it can win Wednesday.

"This is a great opportunity for myself and this team to show who we are," said Howard, averaging 23.6 points over his last five. "We've got to give it everything we've got. We're going to fight to the end and do our best. Despite whatever has happened this season, we've got a chance to win this next game, go into the playoffs and make history.

"With Kobe out, I understand that I have to do more and be more for this team. This is a great opportunity for me, and I believe I can do it."

The Lakers, though, may need a better offensive performance to avoid a third straight loss to Houston after shooting just 36.5 percent Sunday.

"We have players that won't give up, that won't quit," said Pau Gasol, who averaged 23.7 points over his previous three games before scoring seven on 3-of-17 shooting Sunday. "We've been through quite a bit this season, but we're still here, and we're going to continue to be here as long as we can."

Gasol and Howard both were out with injuries when Houston (45-36) beat Los Angeles 125-112 in the most recent meeting Jan. 8 behind James Harden's 31 points.

Harden shot 5 of 18 and scored 16 as the Rockets fell 119-112 at West-worst Phoenix on Monday. That left Houston in danger of falling into the No. 8 spot and a first-round matchup with Oklahoma City - the team that dealt Harden to the Rockets during the offseason.

"I think that has been one of our problems all season - focus," said Jeremy Lin, who scored 20 points and is averaging 18.0 in April. "Every game means so much. We are talking about playoff seeding. We are talking about matchups and things that are more important than anything we played for all season."

The Rockets still have a chance to earn the sixth seed with a win and a Golden State loss to Portland on Wednesday.

If both teams win, Houston ends up in the seventh spot and will face San Antonio in the first round.

Coach Kevin McHale, though, isn't worried about any of that just yet.

"We are going to play a very determined L.A. team. We have to play well," McHale said.

Houston has won four of the last five meetings with the Lakers, with the loss coming 119-108 on Nov. 18 at Staples Center as Howard finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds.


Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Probable Starters
  Lakers    
  #15 World Peace SF #25 Parsons  
  #16 Gasol PF #4 Smith  
  #12 Howard C #3 Asik  
  #20 Meeks SG #13 Harden  
  #5 Blake PG #7 Lin  



Lakers Kobe Bryant
(torn left Achilles tendon) is out.
Pau Gasol
(strained plantar fascia, right foot) is probable.
Jordan Hill
(left hip surgery) is out.
Dwight Howard
(torn labrum, right shoulder) is probable.
Antawn Jamison
(sprained right wrist) is probable.
Steve Nash
(strained right hamstring) is out.
Metta World Peace
(lateral meniscus tear, left knee) is probable.
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Rockets James Harden
(right knee) is day-to-day.
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11/18 - HOU 108 @ LAL 119
12/04 - LAL 105 @ HOU 107
01/08 - LAL 112 @ HOU 125
04/17 - HOU @ LAL
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