TDIKH: April 3

April 3, 2009

34 years, 222 days

Kobe Bryant set the tone in the beginning and then iced the game at the end.

Bryant was one of three players to received a technical foul in the first quarter of the Lakers’ gritty 93-81 win over Houston, then hit consecutive 3-pointers in the fourth to seal victory.

“They’re a tough team, and we’ve had our problems with them in the past and during the regular season,” Bryant told reporters. “I wanted to send a message to my teammates and to the referees that we’re here to play. We’re not going to be out her just kind of going through the motions.”

Bryant finished the night with 20 points, 7 assists and two steals to lead Los Angeles to a 60-16 record.

Pau Gasol (20 points, seven assists) and Derek Fisher (15 points, five steals) also came up big for a team that shot just 39.5 percent but forced 18 turnovers.

Though the Lakers led for much of the second half, they couldn’t seem to bury Houston, led by strong nights from future Laker Ron Artest (21 points, nine rebounds) and Yao Ming (16 points, 10 rebounds, six blocks).

The Rockets brought L.A.’s lead down to 81-76 with 4:41 remaining, but Bryant responded with classic composure. He hit back-to-back triples for the Lakers to open up a double-digit lead that they would never surrender.

Kobe performances on this day in history: