SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers took last season's series from Houston 3-1 after sweeping the 2008-09 season series with the Rockets 4-0 for the first time since 2001-02 (4-0). The two teams have met 188 times in all with the Lakers holding a 127-61 series advantage (105-55 since the Rockets moved to Houston). The Lakers are 8-2 against the Rockets in their last 10 games overall. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 13-8 all- time against the Rockets and 5-5 in their last 10. In Houston, the Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 road games and are 9-4 all-time at Toyota Center. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 27-11 against Houston in 38 regular season meetings. Kobe Bryant holds the series scoring record with two 53-point games. Both games broke his own series mark of 52 established at STAPLES Center in February of 2003. In 46 career games (41 starts) versus Houston, Bryant is now averaging 26.7 points per game. Lakers forward Ron Artest played the 2008-09 season in Houston, averaging 17.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.52 steals in 35.5 minutes while setting single season career-highs in 3-point field goals made (153) and attempted (383) in 69 games (55 starts). In the postseason, the Lakers are 5-3 in eight meetings with the Rockets, most recently defeating the Houston 4-3 in the 2009 Western Conference Semifinals.
For the 18th time since moving to Los Angeles prior to the 1960-61 season, the Lakers will be opening the regular season at home. In those games, the Lakers have a record of 13-4. Overall, Los Angeles has a mark of 35-15 in their 50 REGULAR SEASON openers. The Lakers have won 6-of-their-last-7 opening night games and are 16-2 in their last 18 opening night games overall dating back to 1992. This will be the fifth consecutive season that the Lakers have opened the regular season at home, most recently defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 99-92 on opening night 10/27/09.
The Lakers have opened the regular season against the Rockets on five occasions, three at home, going 1-4 in those games. Most recently, the Lakers lost to the Rockets 93-95 at STAPLES Center to open the 2007-08 season (10/30/07). The Lakers lone opening night victory against Houston came in a 99-91 win at the Great Western Forum on opening night of the 1998-99 season (2/2/99). The two teams also faced off in season openers 11/1/91 @ Houston (121-126 OT), 11/1/86 @ Houston (102-112) and 10/30/81 (112-113 2OT).
In HOME OPENERS (first home game of the year), the Lakers are 33-17 since moving to Los Angeles, most recently defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 99-92 at STAPLES Center 10/27/09. With their victory over the Clippers last season, the Lakers improved to 15-3 in their last 18 HOME openers overall.
The Lakers have opened their home schedule against the Rockets four times (three times on opening night), going 2-2 in those meetings. Most recently, the Lakers lost to the Rockets 93-95 at STAPLES Center to open the 2007-08 season (10/30/07). The other home opener games against Houston include a 99-91 victory at the Great Western Forum to open the 1998-99 season (2/2/99), a 112-113 double-overtime loss to the Rockets 10/30/81 (also a season-opener) and a 114-103 victory 10/12/80.
HOW CHAMPIONS HAVE FARED THE NEXT SEASON
Since the NBA's inaugural season in 1946-47, 21 of 64 winners of the NBA Finals have followed their championship seasons by winning the NBA Finals. Among the other 43 teams, nine lost in the NBA Finals, 17 lost in the Conference Finals, 10 lost in the Conference Semifinals, five lost in the First Round and two failed to make the playoffs. Five teams have managed to defend their title two or more times consecutively, with Minneapolis winning three straight titles from 1952-54, Boston winning eight straight titles from 1959-66, Chicago winning three straight titles from 1991-93 and again from 1996-98 and the Lakers winning three straight titles from 2000-02.
THREE OR MORE CONSECUTIVE VISITS TO THE FINALS
Since the NBA's inaugural season in 1946-47, 12 teams have advanced to the NBA Finals three or more consecutive seasons with the Lakers doing so on six separate occasions (1952-54; 1968-70; 1982-85; 1987-89; 2000-02; 2008-10). The Lakers franchise record for consecutive Finals appearances is four, done so once from 1982-85. Among the other teams to advance to three or more consecutive Finals, only the Celtics did so more than three straight seasons (New York: 1951-53; Boston: 1958-66; Boston: 1984-87; Detroit: 1988-90; Chicago: 1990-92; Chicago: 1996-98).
BRYANT 5th ON NBA FRANCHISE CAREER POINTS LIST
With his 29th point February 1, 2010 at Memphis, Kobe Bryant surpassed Jerry West as the Lakers all-time leading scorer. Additionally, having scored all his points with the Lakers, Bryant moved to sixth on the NBA's franchise career points list. On February 24, 2010 at Dallas, Bryant moved past Reggie Miller (25,279) for 5th on this list. To date, only four players in league history have scored more points for a single franchise than Bryant.
This year, the Lakers will play 15 sets of back-to-back games as opposed to the 20 sets they faced a season ago. The only other time the Lakers have played 15 or fewer sets of back-to-back games came in the team's first ever NBA season (1948-49) when they also played 15 sets of back-to-backs. Chicago, Milwaukee and Atlanta lead the league with 23 back-to-backs each in 2010-11 while Oklahoma City (17), Phoenix (16) and the Lakers (15) will play the fewest sets this season.
2010-11 BACK-TO-BACK RECORDS 2009-10 BACK-TO-BACK RECORDS
The Lakers finished the 2010 preseason with a 4-4 record. Since the Lakers first year of complete preseason records in 1982-83, their best preseason finish was a 7-1 mark in 1987-88. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers have had three winning preseasons, going 6-2 in 2006, 2008 and 2009. Overall, Jackson's Lakers teams have posted preseason records of 4-4 (2010-11), 6-2 (2009-10), 6-2 (2008-09), 3-4 (2007-08), 4-4 (2006-07), 6-2 (2005-06), 3-5 (2003-04), 4-4 (2002-03), 4-4 (2001-02), 3- 5 (2000-01) and 3-5 (1999-2000).
LAKERS IN EUROPE
For the second time in team history, the Lakers traveled abroad to Europe in the preseason, this time as part of 2010 NBA Europe Live presented by EA Sports. The Lakers only other trip to Europe came in October of 1991 when the team played two games in Paris, France in the McDonald's Open. With Hall-of-Famers Magic Johnson and James Worthy leading the way, the defending Western Conference Champions defeated Limoges CSP 132-101 (10/18/91) and Joventut Badalone 116-114 (10/19/91) in the two-game exhibition. This year, the Lakers fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves 111-92 on October 4 at London's 02 Arena before traveling to Barcelona for an October 7 meeting with Regal FC Barcelona at Palau Sant Jordi. In the latter contest, the Lakers' Pau Gasol, a two-time Most Valuable Player with FCB, recorded 25 points and 10 rebounds in a 92-88 loss against his former team. Renowned as one of the most formidable teams in European basketball history, FCB, who recently claimed the 2010 Euroleague title, counts 15 Spanish League titles and 21 Spanish National Cup titles among its accomplishments.
LAMAR ODOM HELPS UNITED STATES TO 2010 FIBA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE
With back-to-back double-doubles in Team USA's semifinal win against Lithuania (13 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks) and gold-medal game victory over host-nation Turkey (15 points, 11 rebounds), Lamar Odom helped give the Americans their first World Championship trophy since 1994. Odom, named co-captain of the 2010 United States FIBA World Championship team by head coach Mike Krzyzewski, predominantly played the center position throughout the tournament. In nine games (all starts), Odom averaged 7.1 points (.538 FG%) and 7.7 rebounds en route to becoming the first United States player to hold an NBA and FIBA World Championship title at the same time.
The 2010-11 Lakers preseason roster includes nine players from last season's NBA Championship team, three fewer than the Lakers returned from their 2009 NBA Championship team (12) and two fewer than in 2008-09 when the Lakers brought back 11 players from the Western Conference Championship squad. This will be the first time since the 2005-06 preseason that the Lakers did not return at least 11 players from the previous season (12 in 2009, 11 in 2008, 12 in 2007 and 11 in 2006). Only Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher remain from the Lakers 2000-02 Championship run with Fisher rejoining the team prior to the 2007-08 season after spending the previous three years in Golden State and Utah. The longest tenured Laker beyond Bryant and Fisher is Luke Walton, who joined the team as a rookie out of Arizona in 2003-04. Ron Artest, Shannon Brown, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Sasha Vujacic all return from last season. New faces include free agent signees Matt Barnes, Steve Blake and Theo Ratliff and Lakers 2010 draft picks Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter.