Lakers vs. Rockets: In-game report
Lakers 88, Rockets 79 (final)
Sometimes there are nights like Tuesday, nights when the Lakers and Rockets could barely put the basketball in the basket.
But these two teams have played each other close and tight all season long. The Lakers won the first game in overtime in Houston and lost the second time the two teams played at Staples Center.
The Lakers didn't play with Pau Gasol, who was out with a strained left hamstring, and got Ron Artest back after he missed five games with a concussion. He looked out of sorts because of that.
Still, the Lakers were able to escape a poor shooting night because the Rockets shot worse than they did.
The Lakers made 45.6% of their shots, the Rockets 40.3%.
Andrew Bynum came up big again for the Lakers, scoring 24 points, grabbing eight rebounds.
Kobe Bryant had 22 points, but he was just nine-for-23 from the field.
Lamar Odom came up one assist short of a triple-double with 17 points, a season-high 19 rebounds and nine assists.
Lakers 59, Rockets 55 (third quarter)
The third quarter didn't look much better for the Lakers or the Rockets. They just kept missing shot after shot.
By the end of the third, the Lakers had made 43% of their shots, the Rockets 38.3% of their shots.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 17 points, but he was just seven-for-18 from the field.
Trevor Ariza, the former Laker, had 10 points, but he was just four-for-13 from the field.
Lakers 41, Rockets 33 (halftime)
It was an ugly second quarter for both teams.
Neither could seem to shoot the basketball.
By the end of the first half, the Lakers had made 46.2% of their shots, the Rockets a woeful 35.9%.
The Rockets were just one-for-14 from three-point range. Worse, they were just four-for-11 from the free-throw line.
Lakers 22, Rockets 17 (first quarter)
For a player that wasn't feeling to well, Lamar Odom didn't play a bad first quarter. Odom scored six points and had six rebounds in the first.
With Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum adding six points each in the first, the Lakers opened a seven-point lead at the end of the quarter.
The Lakers played really good defense against the Rockets, holding them to 33.3% shooting.
Former Laker Trever Ariza had just five points on two-for-six shooting in the first for Houston.
The Lakers welcomed back one starter, lost another and had another one playing sick.
Still, all in all, the Lakers were prepared to play the Houston Rockets at the Staples Center on Tuesday night with what they had.
Ron Artest, who missed five games with a concussion, said he was ready to play.
Artest went down on Christmas night and has been working to get back. He practiced Monday and deemed himself ready.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol didn't play because of a strained left hamstring.
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said he "highly" doubted that Gasol would be able to play Wednesday night when his team faces the Clippers in their home game at Staples Center.
Lamar Odom, who missed Monday's practiced with intestinal flu symptoms, was expected to play.
Odom didn't look good when he first entered the locker room Tuesday night, but he looked better once he visited the Lakers' trainers.
-- Broderick Turner
Photo: Lakers' Kobe Bryant tries to block a pass thrown by Rockets' Shane Battier yesterday in Los Angeles. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times.