The Lakers survived a wild comeback by the Houston Rockets to win 102-94 on Tuesday night.
I was all set to write a glowing piece of praise about the Lakers’ third quarter, in which they outscored the Rockets 30-13 by running the triangle the way Tex Winter originally dreamed it up. They used great passing and cuts to the basket to get seven lay-ups in the quarter. Defensively, they played similar to the way they did against San Antonio on Sunday night, forcing 10 turnovers in the period alone and completely taking Yao Ming out of the game.
Everything was great for L.A. They led 94-73 with seven minutes to play in the game and Phil Jackson decided he had seen enough of the starters.
(Note: This is in NO WAY an indictment of Phil’s coaching. Who wouldn’t pull the starters?)
The Rockets rattled off 19 in a row to cut the lead to two, and they actually had chances to take the lead. Phil had to put the starters back on the floor, even though he clearly wanted to rest them with the team playing back-to-back games. However, Houston couldn’t convert their free throws and ultimately came up short. It was an amazing comeback, nonetheless.
For the Lakers, they won without Lamar Odom, who injured his right knee in the first quarter. I re-wound the game to see where he got hurt, and it appears to me that he tweaked the knee on a drive to the basket. He seemed to land awkwardly after Shane Battier blocked his shot, but he stayed in the game for the next few possessions before asking to come out of the game. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious. He had an MRI tonight, and Lakers fans will hold their breath waiting for the results.
Los Angeles continues the “We’re for Real” tour tomorrow night in Dallas. They won pretty convincingly against San Antonio on Sunday, and seemed poised to do it again tonight in Houston before a near disaster was averted. The Lakers are certainly better than I thought they’d be at 15-6, but honestly, I’d feel a lot better about them right now if they had closed out properly tonight. We’ll see how they do in Big D. Instead of feeling like they’re rolling, I feel like they need to bounce back. What a difference seven minutes can make.