Lakers 114, Rockets 106: Feb. 1 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening home contest against the Houston Rockets, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom* and Gasol
Rockets: K. Lowry, K. Martin, S. Battier, L. Scola, C. Hayes
*Odom makes his 25th start of the season due to a bone bruise to the left knee of Andrew Bynum.

FIRST QUARTER
9:00 With Bynum out, the matchups between Houston and the Lakers are quite different in the paint, since the Rockets can better match up size wise by leaving Luis Scola on Odom and Chuck Hayes on Gasol, instead of having Scola give up several inches to the Spaniard on the block. Rockets Coach Rick Adelman cited this advantage for his squad prior to the game, but one counter point is that Odom’s inclusion with the starters can make LAL better in terms of transition defense against the ready-to-run Rockets. While Hayes does have a strong base that makes it difficult for Gasol to back down, Pau can shoot right over the top of him, which he did to make it 6-4 early.

2:03 What the Lakers may lose in defense with Bynum out of the game they pick up with ball movement and general effectiveness on offense with Odom’s inclusion in the starting line up (which isn’t to say Odom hasn’t been very good on D, which would be false). We saw this affect early, as L.A. opened a 27-19 lead with Steve Blake’s transition layup. Odom had four points, six rebounds and two dimes, while Fisher and Artest were benefiting from that ball movement by combining to go 6-for-6 from the field, including three triples.

0:00 Kobe Bryant didn’t join his teammates with the excellent shooting (60 percent in the first) because he was too busy dishing out seven assists en route to surpassing the 5,000 mark for his career. To put that in perspective, Sam Cassell’s 5,939 ranks 30th among all players in league history. The Lakers used the ball movement to take a 31-23 lead over Houston, who stuck around thanks in part to six offensive rebounds that made up for 39.1 percent shooting.

SECOND QUARTER
6:55 We mentioned those Bryant dimes … but his game of course has always been more about scoring (27,000+ career points) so it wasn’t a surprise to see him take advantage of a matchup with Courtney Lee by hitting three straight shots that put the Lakers up 41-31.

3:51 We saw both the good and bad Shannon Brown on offense in the second, at least as far as L.A.’s coaches see it. First came an in-rhythm jumper from three that he swished home. But later, instead of taking the open triple, Brown tried to put the ball on the floor, and traveled. Meanwhile, the Lakers held a seven-point lead, still operating pretty well on offense.

0:23.7 The Rockets managed to cut a once 12-point lead down to just one when rookie Devin Ebanks got caught by Kevin Martin’s swing-through move resulting in three free throws, but Gasol led a quick charge back on the other end by scoring four points, the second bucket created by his offensive rebound, to give the Lakers a 54-48 lead at the break.

THIRD QUARTER
8:00 While Martin’s one of the league’s worst defenders, Chuck Hayes is one of its best. He picked off a pass a possession after drawing his third charge (second on Kobe) and the Rockets capitalized at the other end by cutting L.A.’s lead down to one at 60-59.

6:31 A poor start to the second half for the Lakers continued as Martin drew a three-shot foul, his second of the game, to take his 8th, 9th and 10th free throws, then hit a wide-open three in transition after a long miss from Bryant to put the Rockets up 64-61, the first lead of the night for the visitors.

1:54 A pull-up triple was Odom’s second of the quarter, but just his fourth make in 13 attempts overall for the game. Nonetheless, the long-range J put the Lakers up a bucket, though Scola’s jumper on the other end would tie the score entering the final quarter. Odom’s frontcourt partner Gasol had made only one of his four shots in the quarter, meanwhile, though the two had combined for 24 rebounds.

FOURTH QUARTER
10:30 Gasol blocked more shots in the first minute and change of the fourth than he made field goals in the third to reach four swats in the game; the Lakers took advantage at the other end as Steve Blake nailed a triple, and Shannon Brown a transition dunk to make it 81-76 for the home team.

7:06 L.A.’s bench hadn’t had much of an opportunity to play with Gasol and Odom logging heavy minutes, but Blake and Brown made the most of their early fourth action by combining with the two bigs to push L.A. to a seven-point lead. Phil Jackson then tried to get a couple minutes of rest for Gasol, who along with Odom had already logged 37 minutes.

3:30 The Rockets erased L.A.’s six-point lead in under a minute thanks to back-to-back threes, their 9th and 10th makes of the game, but the Lakers responded out of a time out with a 6-0 run of their own, including two buckets from Bryant (26 points) and one from Odom (16 points, season-high 19 rebounds).

0:05.5 So … the Lakers couldn’t protect their six-point lead with just over three minutes to go, instead allowing buckets to Scola and Brooks before a beautiful play with five seconds left got Scola a wide-open layup. Bryant had missed twice on the previous possession, the second one over the outstretched hands of two Rockets on the baseline, though LAL still had a chance for a buzzer beater…

… but they weren’t able to get anything better than a contested three from Odom, who missed to send the game to overtime.

OVERTIME
2:00 After converting a tough lefty hook over Hayes for his 22nd point, he cleared rebound No. 15 on the defensive end. He then converted two free throws to tie the game at 104 after the Rockets had opened a momentary four-point lead.

0:38.3 Consecutive buckets from Gasol (reverse layup from Kobe) and Kobe (driving lay-in) came at a good time for the Lakers, allowing a two-possession lead for the first time in overtime. Then came Blake’s* season-high sixth rebound and two converted free throws at the other end after Lowry poked him in the eye.
*Blake played all five OT minutes to match up with Houston’s line up of Brooks and Lowry in the backcourt.

0:00 And finally, it ended at 114-106 for the Lakers, who outscored Houston 16-8 in overtime. Stay tuned for postgame numbers.