Lakers Gameday | 11/09/08 | Lakers 111, Rockets 82
Western Conference Standing : 1
Streak: Won 5
Western Conference Standing :5
Streak: Lost 1
|Injury Report||Injury Report|
---Francisco Gomez, Lakers.com
|Los Angeles Lakers||Houston Rockets|
Bryant, Gasol lead Lakers past Rockets
LOS ANGELES(AP) Kobe Bryant scored 23 points, Pau Gasol added 20 points and 15 rebounds, and the unbeaten Los Angeles Lakers routed the Houston Rockets 111-82 on Sunday night.
Jordan Farmar added 16 points and six assists and Andrew Bynum had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Lakers, who shot 65.8 percent in the second half. Los Angeles has won its five games by an average of 22.4 points.
Aaron Brooks, a reserve, paced Houston (4-3) with 20 points and four assists. Yao Ming, Luis Scola and Carl Landry had 12 points apiece.
The Rockets trailed by only seven entering the fourth quarter, but Farmar scored eight points, Gasol and Lamar Odom added four each, and the Lakers shot 9-of-10 during a 22-9 run to start the period, giving them a 94-75 lead. Los Angeles wound up outscoring Houston 39-17 in the fourth quarter.
Houston's Tracy McGrady, a two-time NBA scoring champion and seven-time All-Star, had his second brutal shooting performance in a row at Staples Center, going 1-of-11 for three points two days after missing all five of his field-goal attempts and scoring two points in a 92-83 victory over the Clippers.
Ron Artest also had an off night, shooting 2-of-11 and scoring eight points.
The Lakers, who shot 43.5 percent in their first four games, wound up shooting 53.2 percent against Houston after going 5-of-17 in the first quarter. The Rockets shot 37.8 percent.
Bryant scored six points and Derek Fisher added four during a 12-3 run that gave the Lakers a 67-57 lead with 4 minutes left in the third quarter.
Brooks entered with 2:25 left in the first quarter and scored 13 of the Rockets' 15 points in a span of 5:15, helping them build a 16-point lead. It was 41-28 when the Lakers started rolling, outscoring Houston 22-7 to finish the second quarter, and they were on top the rest of the way.
Rafer Alston scored seven points and Yao added six during a 20-3 run that gave the Rockets a 22-9 lead, and it was 28-16 entering the second quarter. Since they shot 5-of-17 and committed eight turnovers in the opening period, the Lakers were fortunate they didn't trail by more.
Notes: The Rockets won two of their three games against the Lakers last season, the first time they've won the season series since the 1996-97 season. ... The game was just the second for the Lakers since Nov. 1, but the first of four in a six-day period. ... Rockets F Shane Battier hasn't played this season because of a bone bruise in his left foot, and coach Rick Adelman isn't sure when he'll be ready to go. "He's really a key guy, he knows how to play,'' Adelman said. "He's doing more and more. We don't want to rush him back. He'll let us know when he can actually go out and practice.'' ... The Lakers are off to a 5-0 start for the first time since the 2003-04 season and the 10th time in franchise history. They won a team-record 11 straight to begin the 1997-98 season. ... Atlanta, also 5-0, is the NBA's only other unbeaten team.
by Mike Trudell, Lakers.com
Heading into Sunday’s showdown with Houston, Lakers Reporter Mike Trudell chatted with Rockets.com writer Jason Friedman to get the skinny on the Rockets.
The Los Angeles Lakers' trade for Pau Gasol in the middle of last season helped the team evolve from a contender to the favorite in the Western Conference. The Houston Rockets are hoping their offseason acquisition of Ron Artest has a similar impact.
The Lakers look to remain undefeated as they host the transitioning Rockets on Sunday night in a matchup between championship hopefuls coming off uninspired victories.
On Feb. 1, Los Angeles acquired an All-Star forward in a lopsided trade by getting Gasol from Memphis in exchange for expiring contracts and some younger, unestablished players. The move instantly put the Lakers among the favorites in the West, and the team met those expectations by advancing to the NBA finals, where it lost to Boston.
Houston was another one of the conference's top teams last season, but it couldn't overcome the absence of Yao Ming in the playoffs, getting eliminated in the first round for the sixth straight time.
With Yao fully recovered from a stress fracture in his left foot and Artest on board following an offseason trade with Sacramento, the Rockets expect to end that drought this season.
To do so, however, they'll need to get past a shaky start. The Rockets opened 3-0, but dropped back-to-back games before grinding out a 92-83 victory over the winless Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.
"Even though we won tonight, it still wasn't an impressive game for the Houston Rockets," said Artest, who had 23 points to lead Houston in scoring for the first time. "We're still searching to find ourselves.
"We haven't played good basketball yet. We need to play 48 minutes consistently. We have a long ways to go, but this was a good test for us. It's coming together and it's going to happen."
Yao is among the Houston players who are struggling, averaging 12.3 points and 7.3 rebounds over the last three games.
Though the Rockets escaped with a win Friday in their first of consecutive games at Staples Center, Artest knows they could use a more complete performance against the Lakers (4-0).
"We're trying to learn each other and find out how we're going to win together," he said. "Some nights it's just going to be different people, and we've got to get used to that. I think sometimes we just step into the arena and think we're going to win, just because of our talent. And it can happen like that. But that's not going to beat the good teams."
Though the Lakers certainly fall under that category, they didn't look like an elite club in their 106-88 win over the Clippers on Wednesday night. The Lakers trailed at halftime and shot below 40.0 percent for the second consecutive game, but they also held the Clippers to 38.9 percent shooting.
"When you don't shoot the ball well, you've got to defend," said reigning league MVP Kobe Bryant, who had 27 points and went 8-for-21 from the field. "That's what we did."
Coach Phil Jackson agreed with his star player, praising his team's ability to win when its shots weren't falling.
"The mantra is that defense wins ballgames, your offense comes and goes," said Jackson, whose team is looking for its first 5-0 start since 2003-04. "If you just rely on your offense all the time, it's going to disappoint you at some level."
The Lakers lost two of three against the Rockets last season, including their only meeting in Los Angeles in both teams' season opener. Houston's Tracy McGrady had 30 points in that game, but was held to a combined 20 points on 7-for-23 shooting in the other two meetings.
Bryant, meanwhile, averaged 33.0 points against the Rockets despite shooting 39.8 percent from the field in those three contests.
The Houston Rockets are an extremely solid team and they hope they have improved their chances by adding Ron Artest in the off-season. They are a physical and mentally tough team and we must be ready to battle if we want to protect our home court tonight.Read more...
NOTES & CONNECTIONS
The Lakers lost last season’s series with the Rockets 1-2 for the first time since the 1996-97 season (1-3). This will be the 181st meeting between the Lakers and Rockets with Los Angeles holding a 120-60 series advantage (98-54 since the Rockets moved to Houston). The Lakers are 5-5 against the Rockets in their last 10 overall games. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 10-7 all-time against the Rockets, 5-5 in their last 10. In Houston, the Lakers are 6-4 in their last 10 road games against the Rockets and are 5-4 all-time at Toyota Center. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 19-11 against Houston. Kobe Bryant has scored 40 points or better in three of his last six games against Houston, including two games of 53 points. Both games broke his own series mark of 52 established at STAPLES Center in February of 2003. In 38 career games (33 starts) versus Houston, Bryant is averaging 26.8 points per game and in his last game at Toyota Center (3/16/08), surpassed 1,000 points for his career against the Rockets. Rockets guard Von Wafer was originally drafted by the Lakers in the second round (39th overall) of the 2005 NBA Draft. Wafer appeared in 16 games during the 2005-06 season for the Lakers, scoring a total of 20 points in 73 minutes including a high game of nine points. Additionally, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest (as well as Elton Brand) played together as teenagers in the famed AAU program at Riverside Church in New York.