Rockets Send Lakers Home Reeling
Battier's heroics propel Houston to 109-99 win over Lakers
HOUSTON - Upstaging Kevin Durant was extraordinary.
Let’s just say Shane Battier came through with quite the encore.
A mere 3 days after going toe-to-toe with the league’s leading scorer and emerging victorious, Battier upped the ante by delivering a veritable clutch clinic against Captain Clutch himself, Kobe Bryant, as the Rockets rolled to a resounding 109-99 win over the Lakers before a packed house at Toyota Center.
Just as he was on Sunday against the Thunder, Battier was terrific at both ends of the floor against Los Angeles, scoring 17 points while limiting Bryant to just 2-of-7 shooting in the fourth quarter as the game hung in the balance. But without question this particular Wednesday will be remembered as the night Battier flipped the script on his familiar foe, erupting for 11 straight points down the stretch to help Houston reverse its fourth quarter fortunes and pull away for a much-needed win.
“I was in the corner all night and usually the Lakers give up that corner 3 because Kobe doesn’t really play me – he roams off me,” said Battier after the game. “The second (of his two straight 3s) was tougher because ( Pau) Gasol was running at me and he may be the longest guy in the NBA so I was just trying to get it to the rim, to be honest with you. When it went in I was like, ‘Okay, now we’re talking. We might have something here.’”
While Battier’s heroics sealed the game, the seeds of victory were first planted during the final three minutes of the first half. Up to that point, the Lakers looked to be in firm control, shooting better than 60 percent from the field while building their lead up to as many as 12 points. But instead of closing out the quarter with a whimper as they have so often done this season, the Rockets finished with a flourish, rolling off a 13-4 run to end the half, setting the tone for everything that was to come in the final two periods of play.
“We’ve been getting killed at the end of quarters all year long,” said Rockets head coach Rick Adelman. “We needed to do that to get back in this game.”
Having asserted themselves and announced their unwillingness to fade faintly into the background, the Rockets rode their well-earned momentum toward one of their strongest second half performances of the young season. Kevin Martin, after enduring a nightmarish opening six minutes of the game, came out of the break a completely different player, displaying a previously absent aggressiveness which allowed him to score 20 of his team-high 22 points in the second half. Kyle Lowry, meanwhile, served as the straw which stirred the drink, racking up his third double-digit assist game of the season on his way to collecting 10 dimes to go along with 8 points and a pair of steals. And the Rockets’ bench brought plenty of substantive sound and fury as well, combining to outscore the Lakers’ reserves 40-30.
Such noteworthy wins always include a hidden hero or two, and this game was certainly no exception as it would be nearly impossible to overstate the importance of the roles played by Chuck Hayes and Jordan Hill. The two players took turns defending Pau Gasol, who’s quite simply become one of the most unstoppable big men in the game. And though Hayes lacks the height and Hill the experience to be expected to hang with LA’s superstar center, the duo did the unthinkable, limiting Gasol to a mere 8 points on 2-of-8 shooting Wednesday night – a far cry from the 29 points he hung on Houston in the season opener.
“ Pau is one of the best big men in the league but I’m not going to let that intimidate me,” said Hill after finishing with 10 points, 4 boards and a block. “I want to go out there and help my team win and I’m going to do whatever possible to get a win for us.
“He’s good, he’s long, he’s agile for a big and he’s got moves so I just had to go out there and protect my own.”
The entire team protected their own Wednesday night, giving the Rockets ample reason to believe that December could be the magical month the club needs to recover from a rocky start. Which is precisely why the celebration following this win will be brief – the Rockets know it will be rendered meaningless if they don’t follow it up with similar performances during their upcoming back-to-back against the Grizzlies and Bulls this weekend.
“We need to back this up with another solid effort,” Battier said. “We had a great win against Oklahoma and came out and threw up a turd against the Mavs. We need to go to Memphis and Chicago and put solid efforts back-to-back together and then we’ve got a pretty good schedule coming home and we need to take advantage of it.”
Terrific win for us. We really came out in the second half and competed in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter we did all the things that we’d struggled with all year: we defended them, we got most of the rebounds and we executed really well.
It was just a solid win, obviously our best win of the year and now hopefully we can build on this.
(on the run at the end of the first half): We talked about it at that timeout: we need life. We’ve been getting killed at the end of quarters all year long. We needed to do that to get back in this game. That’s a first. They were all ready to go, they were all happy, they were all helping each other, and that’s what we talked about at halftime: they got to the basket I don’t know how many times because our weak-side people weren’t even paying attention.
(on defending Pau Gasol): I thought Chuck did a good job and I thought Jordan, he hasn’t experienced very much guarding (Gasol), but I thought he battled him in the fourth quarter. He got a couple big rebounds for us and he didn’t let Gasol get them. He has the length to keep Gasol away where he can’t go over the top of him and that was huge.
(on Battier closing it out): I thought one of the biggest things we did tonight in the fourth quarter when (Battier) got his shots is that balled moved and guys made the right play. Luis didn’t hold on to it – when they doubled him he swung it around and Shane was going to be the guy who was open.
(Shane) has got to be more aggressive at taking shots. A lot of times he’s unaggressive. He’ll have the shot, he passes it up and then they’re on him. We need the ball movement like we got and we need to be aggressive like we did in the fourth quarter. I really trust Shane. If he gets those open 3s he’s going to make them.
I was in the corner all night and usually the Lakers give up that corner 3 because Kobe doesn’t really play me – he roams off me. We did a much better job with ball movement in the second half. The second one was tougher because Gasol was running at me and he may be the longest guy in the NBA so I was just trying to get it to the rim, to be honest with you. When it went in I was like, ‘Okay, now we’re talking. We might have something here.’ It was a great team win.
We need to back this up with another solid effort. We had a great win against Oklahoma and came out and threw up a turd against the Mavs. We need to go to Memphis and Chicago and put solid efforts back-to-back together and then we’ve got a pretty good schedule coming home and we need to take advantage of it.
(On the adjustments the Rockets made at half time) “Rick (Adelman) told us we needed to play harder, we needed to cut harder and apply pressure on them (Lakers) and make them feel us. They were shooting the ball really well. They made a lot of jumpers early and we were sort of on our heels for a second. We played harder, pushed the tempo, got some turnovers and got back into it.”
Pau is one of the best big men in the league but I’m not going to let that intimidate me. I want to go out there and help my team win and I’m going to do whatever possible to get a win for us.
He likes those jump hooks so I tried to get him off his jump hooks. He’s good, he’s long, he’s agile for a big and he’s got moves so I just had to go out there and protect my own.
(On the importance of the win) “Huge win. We needed it. We were struggling early on in the season, but we played hard. We competed and we got the win. We are really happy today. We need to go to Memphis and back it up.”
(On the play of the Rocket's second unit) “They're athletic and fun to watch. They're really talented. When we go to the bench I feel good, like some good things are going to happen. I think by playing the way we did today, we allowed them to go out there and play more loose and play better. That’s what the starters are supposed to do”
(On the win) “It's a big win, anytime you beat a defending champ like the Lakers, you know it gives your team some confidence. Hopefully we can get something rolling.”
(On the role of the bench) “Yeah we did a great job ending quarters and ending the second quarter and the start of the third quarter. Our starters did a great job, then the bench got back in the game. Hopefully next game everybody can get it going and it would be a good month for us and hopefully we can get back in the hunt.”
(On the importance of the win) “Well beating one of the teams in the west is always going to be a confidence booster. Hopefully now we can string some wins along and climb back to .500.”
(On their play in the fourth quarter) “I think we're just learning from our mistakes in the past. We just stayed together tonight, played team defense. Shane was big. Our guys just rallied around one another and came out to win.”
LOS ANGELES LAKERS QUOTES
COACH PHIL JACKSON
(On the Rockets fourth quarter run) “We took bad shots and made bad plays. We had a number of mental errors. We played OK at times, but we just made mistakes at critical times. Poor shooting in the second half really cost us. You have to give credit to Houston's defense, which had something to do with that.”
(On the Lakers recent play) “There is a long way to go and we just have to hang on. I really liked the way our bench played. We're concerned with the way Gasol played. This was probably his worst game of the season. He's had some hamstring issues and it bothered him.”
(On the Rockets) “They got Martin loose in the second half and he got going with his shots and also getting to the free throw line. Hayes does a great job of bodying Gasol defensively and I thought Hill (Jordan) did a good job defensively too.”
(On the game) “They (Rockets) made tough shots and big shots and built a cushion in the fourth quarter. We have to do a better job defensively, this is unacceptable. We're slow. It looks like we're running in quicksand. Our depth is not good.”
(On his hamstring injury) “It's a little sore. It bothered me out there. It didn't' get loose at all. I will rest and hopefully I'll be better. Maybe just from fatigue. I'm hoping this won't linger. It happened yesterday during the game. I'm concerned that it doesn't get better or we'll really have a problem.”
(On the fourth loss in a row) “I don't know whets going on. Maybe this is good for us to show us if we don't play well, we'll lose. Being humbled is a good lesson in life. We lost the game. We couldn't keep control of the game when we had it and didn't close Houston out. We really have to work on our concentration defensively. We are not playing well and its a joke.”
(On the team's problems) “Coach (Jackson) will get it fixed. We didn't' have a drought like this at all last year. We need a monsoon win and sometimes they don't happen early. We will be OK. It was a very unfortunate loss. That’s life. If it was easy a caveman could do it.”
Houston’s attendance of 18,116 tonight marks the third sellout at Toyota Center in 2010-11.
The Rockets connect on 40-of-79 (.506) from the field and 10-of-22 (.455) from 3-point range in downing the Lakers 109-99 tonight. Houston snapped a four-game home regular season losing streak to the Lakers.
Houston was also 19-of-21 (.905) from the free throw line tonight, marking the third time in 2010-11 that the Rockets have hit .900 or better from the line.
The Lakers have now lost four straight games for the first time since April 2007 (4/8/07-4/13/07).
Houston overcame its first double-digit deficit to win a game this season, overcoming a 12-point lead by the Lakers tonight.
All 10 Rockets to play in the opening half registered at least two points, which marked the first time Houston has accomplished such a feat in the first half this season.
Kevin Martin led five Rockets in double-figure scoring with 22 points (6-17 FG, 10-10 FT), but failed to hit a shot from downtown (0-4 3FG). Martin had made at least one shot from beyond the arc in 19 consecutive games (4/12/10-11/29/10) dating back to the end of last season.
Shane Battier recorded 17 points (5-7 FG, 4-6 3FG, 3-3 FT), six boards and two blocked shots tonight. He also scored a season-high 18 points (7-11 FG, 4-6 3FG) and grabbed six rebounds in the last home win vs. Oklahoma City (11/28/10). Battier is now 8-of-12 (.667) from 3-point range over his last two home games.
Luis Scola totaled 14 points (6-11 FG) and nine rebounds tonight. Scola has now reached double-figure scoring in each of his last 14 games (11/6/10-12/1/10). His career best stands at 18 consecutive contests (12/29/09-2/5/10) of double-digit scoring.
Kyle Lowry dished out a game-high 10 assists tonight. Lowry now owns six double-digit assist games as a member of the Rockets, including three outing this season.
Jordan Hill added 10 points (4-9 FG, 2-2 F) and four rebounds tonight. Hill extended his career-best, double-digit scoring streak to four consecutive games (11/26/10-12/1/10).
Kobe Bryant finished with 27 points (10-24 FG, 7-7 FT), four boards, four assists and four steals tonight. Bryant has now reached at least 20 points in every game this season except one (12 points 11/7/10 vs. Portland), which includes his 27 points (8-20 FG, 11-12 FT) and seven assists in the first meeting with the Rockets at Los Angeles (10/26/10).
Lamar Odom posted a season-high 25 points (11-16 FG, 2-4 3FG), 11 rebounds and two blocks. Odom tallied his previous season best with a 22-point, 11-rebounds performance vs. Phoenix (11/14/10).