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Lakers respond in appropriate fashion in 109-101 victory over Houston Rockets

"What a difference a day made/Twenty-four little hours/Brought the sun and the flowers/Where there used to be rain" - Dinah Washington

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That was the song ringing in Lawrence Tanter's ear as the Lakers became a different team once again in their 109-101 victory Saturday against the Houston Rockets. But at least for the Lakers' sake, their 180-degree turn didn't go from great (win Wednesday against San Antonio) to bad (double-digit loss Friday to Oklahoma City). Instead, the transformation went from bad to better.

What this means big picture? Not much. 

Sure, there is the usual standings update, with the Lakers (54-19) leading Denver (48-25) by six games as well as Dallas (47-25) and Utah (48-26) by six-and-a-half games for the top spot in the Western Conference with nine games remaining in the regular season. Other than that, there aren't many things to take away from this game beyond the fact the Lakers rebounded against an opponent in Houston (36-36) that won't clinch the playoffs. The Lakers should be credited for not allowing the problems they left in Oklahoma City to travel with them to Texas, but the next step entails making sure those problems don't reroute to New Orleans Monday when the Lakers play the Hornets (34-40). In the meantime, the Lakers can take comfort that the their loss to the Thunder didn't have a trickle effect, much like what happened during the team's winless three-game trip earlier this month. 

At first, however, it appeared the Lakers couldn't shed their bad habits. Though the Lakers shot 54.5% in the first quarter, they committed 12 turnovers, allowed speedy point guard Aaron Brooks to drop 12 points and former D-Leaguer Jermaine Taylor to score an already career-high 10 points and fell to a 34-27 first-quarter deficit.

That proved to be the only worry beyond the initial scare over Lakers forward Ron Artest, who reportedly had a bruised left heel after he chased a loose ball with 6:29 remaining in the third quarter with Rockets forward and former Laker Trevor Ariza. 

"Nothing happened," Artest told KCAL-9's John Ireland.

So if you do replay the game and see that incident, it's actually just a glitch in your DVR. Replaying the rest of the game will feature a lot of positive things the Lakers put together. 

Inside game: The Lakers may be without center Andrew Bynum (strained left Achilles' tendon) for the fourth consecutive game, but the Rockets don't much size at all, featuring 6-6 center Chuck Hayes. Lakers forward Pau Gasol exploited the mismatches, scoring a season-high 30 points on 11 of 17 shooting, including an eight of 10 clip after the first quarter.  Gasol's effort came a day after scoring only nine points on three of 10 shooting, a performance Lakers Coach Phil Jackson described as soft. And for good measure, Lamar Odom (13 points, 13 rebounds) and D.J. Mbenga (four points in seven minutes) gave the Lakers other options. 

Kobe Bryant's triple-threat option: Bryant finished one assist shy of a triple double (17 points, 10 points and nine assists) marking the second time this season he was oh so close to getting that mark. He also nearly reached a triple double in his 27-point, 16-rebound and nine -assist effort Jan. 24 in a 106-105 loss to the Toronto Raptors. Though his five turnovers were far from impressive, he improved from the nine turnovers he committed against Oklahoma City. He also shot better from the field, going seven of 14 after finishing with a four of 11 clip against the Thunder.  The most impressive thing regarding Bryant's director role entailed getting everyone on the floor involved. Just take a look at his assists breakdown: 3 to Gasol, 3 to Fisher, 1 to Odom, 1 to Artest and 1 to Lakers backup Jordan Farmar

Team Balance: That was a large reason why the Lakers featured five players in double scoring, which also included Fisher (15 on six of eight shooting) and Farmar (14 on five of seven shooting). In the Lakers' 20-0 run in the second quarter, four different players scored and three different players dropped the dimes. That's a stark contrast to the season-low seven assists and the two players in double figures the team provided against Oklahoma City. The Lakers' holding Houston without a field goal for the final 6:10 of the second quarter also contrasted the 16-2 run the Thunder put together to close out a 33-point lead through three quarters.  

Again, though the aforementioned qualities are laudable, you have to consider the opponent. The Rockets lost their fourth consecutive game for the first time since losing six in a row Nov. 13-23, 2007. Houston has also been plagued by injuries, including Shane Battier (hyperextended left knee, normally guards Bryant well) and Kevin Martin (sore left shoulder, has averaged 21.8 points in 17 games since he was acquired in a trade on Feb. 18). Nonetheless, the Lakers put together something to build upon for the rest of their trip, something that couldn't be said just a day earlier. 

-Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Pau Gasol had 30 points, eight rebounds and four blocks during the Lakers' 109-101 victory over Houston in the Toyota Center on Saturday. Credit: Dave Einsel/ Associated Press.

 
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Watching tonight's game it proves the Laker's have absolutely NO BENCH. Fisher as a PG is also a NO GO. He is too slow for the NBA's new set of speedy and sharp shooting PG's. Hopefully management will work on this problem area this summer ???

Nine more games to go, ahead of Nuggets and Mavericks by six games, and Jazz by six and half games.

So, a 4-5 finish from this point would be enough. So lets start resting our guys and cruise to the finish line for the regular season. I dont think 9-0 or 4-5 would make any difference (other than the "intangibles" which many folks mention)

I'm glad we won.

I expected we'd win.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Jon K,
Just curious if you can put together a sentence without using 'we.' YOU are a cliche.

What a difference day made... today no one shooting against Gasol.

Day by day the same, good day for Gasol day to ignore him.

He is only visible when his game is not too good.

Dear Jonkay,
Jon K writes:
Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.
GO LAKERS!!!!
Look for "we" smart guy

Sunday mornings are a big deal for folks like myself in Indiana...Why? American Chopper, 9am baby! Let the dysfunction and cool fabrication roll!
And good win last night.


Wes

Good win!

LAKERS ALL DAY!!!

Aww. The quote at the start of the article was so much class, MM.
Loved it so much :).
Analysis is fine with me.
As you know, cos I have kept saying that during the chat, I can't get over the moon for a game against a band-aid torn version of the Rockets, but I certainly appreciated the vision on court after the d├ębacle of the previous day.

I still cool oriented about these last games.

They just count like a two of spades in a poker tournament.

I can also predict the games where we probably will be doing better will be the one that I am certainly gonna miss (Against Jazz and Kings at Staples) due to Easter Vacation. Then am sure (just to be cruel against me) Lakers will be sumptous...

And still... even that wouldn't matter.

Clock tickles and the real game starts in two weeks.

I can't wait.

By then, all that so far has been lacklustre, rusty, and frustrating has to metamorphe itself.

I believe we can obtain that.

Someway what I have seen this past night comfortts me there, too.

Have all a great sunday ;)

Jonkay

A cliche is a leech who can only respond in a negative fashion to another person's passion. Get your own life, live it, share it if you like, but try to contribute something that comes from your own experience.

About the game, it wasn't really that meaningful given the condition the Rockets are in but it also was not the long cold shower with clothes on that the Thunder game was.

Good morning,

Feel better? I do. I'm sure, so does the team. There was so much gnashing of teeth after the OKC meltdown, one might think the Lakers transformed into the NJ Nets. Despite what all the "conventional wisdom" has been proclaiming, the Lakers got what they needed from their guard play in Houston.

Yes, the Rockets are depleted. But the Lakers are playing without Bynum and Walton.

My point is, I'm tired of all the negativity, whether it's here or from beat writers like Kevin Ding. I'm tired of Derek Fisher's PR machine, now with TJ Simers in its pocket. There's so much spinning of the Lakers season, I feel like I'm caught in a Kenmore washer/dryer.

We have three weeks to endure until the playoffs begin. There will be ups and downs, preferably ups. Then, the real work begins. The end of the regular season is really just the pre-season for the playoffs. Let's treat it as such. We're in danger of a world hyperbole shortage, after so much has been expended on the Lakers.

I'm all about good vibes and mellow times on this Sunday. Go Lakers!

No doubt now we will soon clinch the home court for the west.
We probably aren't going to catch the Cavs but it is possible.
Before we go resting anyone we should think about the Magic. We have a 3 game lead over them but they are playing well.
It would be nice to finish with a better record than them. Who knows, though seems unlikely now they could upend the Cavs and meet us again.

Photo caption: Dread not lest ye be dreaded...comprende?

the result should not be this close with a team minus Yao Ming, Kevin Martin and , Shane Battier and starting a rookie who was playing last weekend for the D league.

go lakers

Look if you are not a laker fan, just keep your negative comment about the team.....Lakers will be the champs again, whether you like it or not , they will have maybe 4 more rings after this....
For the playoff, maybe they should start Brown instead of Fish and get fish with Lamar and Bynum with Farmar/Shasha in the second quarter. Third, mixed it up with the bench and starter and put fisher in the 4thQ.
Kobe should help Ron to defend in the perimeter and let the 2 big men do the scoring damage...but needs to also be the driver in the offense. If they do this, there won't be a close game bec. Lakers will always pull away early. With a veteran like Dfish in the floor with Farmar, offense will be in control..

Fish hit shots!

Worth repeating... Fish hit shots!

A harbinger of Spring, and Playoffs.


OK, Houston isn't very good but DJ was pretty good against 'em.
Not sure why he doesn't get more run even with Drew out.

Phil's playoff secret weapon? Must be it. But now that the secret's revealed, might as well play him.

Given how much time Drew has to get back to speed, we're gonna need some bangin'. Nobody bangs like da Mbenga man.


{Lakers Secret Agent Jon K. Emerging From The Shadows Of The Gray Spiritual Wastes Of Northeast Ohio To Offer A Snapshot Of The Land That Built LeBron James Before I Turn Once More To The Fray. A Lamp Serves Little Merit In The Sunlight}

I missed the game last night because I was working.

You'd be amazed how many obsese, uneducated people clad themselves almost solely in the scarlet and gray of Ohio State colors when they clearly have not attended college. If some of them DID attend Ohio State, well, that's not a great indicator as to the quality of Ohio's higher educational system.

As many of you know, I work in a rough bar in Akron. Well, I found out last night that a cute girl that I had a little bit of a crush on and a bar regular was recently murdered. She was in last week, but otherwise hadn't been in much for the last several weeks.

From the reports that I was told, she had got involved with a street thug, he got her on drugs, started pimping her out and her body was found strangled to death in a hotel room in Akron. It could have been a customer, but from what I've been told, her pimp is the prime suspect.

Crazy. She was a really sweet girl, not particularly bright and somewhat gullible, but very sweet and rather pretty.

I just don't get people who have dark sociopathic instincts to manipulate innocent people, but it's out there... and there's a lot of it here.

Thank God we have diversions like following our favorite basketball team. It kind of takes one's attention away from the shadows.

Well, I'm very happy that the Lakers won last night. In the highlights I saw, it seems we played with effort, which is what we need. I wonder if Phil Jackson's recent "I may not coach" tirade was another brilliant motivating strategy, because, if so, it may be working.

I'm also glad that Derek has finally got out of his shooting slump. This may lead the haters to produce even more elaborate creative strategies to justify their continuted hate... which is always entertaining to observe.

Anyhow, we're closer to 4-1 on this road trip, which is good.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Jonkay,

I expect not to be liked by some people. Much like the people who hate on the Lakers for no darned good reason, some people will hate on me.

In short, I have better things to do with my time than care about your opinion.

Have I mentioned that I'm a big fan of Derek Fisher and Luke Walton and believe that BOTH of them provide major positive contributions to the team? How does that sit with you?

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

"What a difference day made... today no one shooting against Gasol.

Day by day the same, good day for Gasol day to ignore him.

He is only visible when his game is not too good."

Karmaniac shut up!!!
We only mention GASOL When the team loses, he is guilty of all the losses. Pau Gasol is a soft player. Pau Gasol is far from being a number 2 player for the Lakers; you can forget that myth.
I Think Pau is a becoming a cancer, and by cancer I mean the definition "an evil influence that spreads dangerously"

As the Nobel laureate ouchhh say "Gasol for SOAT (softest player of all time)".
Faux Pas: PRICELESS
Paula* Gasol

Sorry karmaniac you must find another forum.
We only talk about gasol in losses.

Faux Pas: PRICELESS and Paula Gasol.

Hiltntown who do you think you are to say "we" me and many many lakers fans think gasol is a superstar, and everything you say is only crap, you know what? you are the only cancer here, a cancer that spreads criticising and not seeing the value of our players, you are the one who should leave the forum!.

Ruud van Nistelrooy

>>>I dont think 9-0 or 4-5 would make any difference (other than the
>>>"intangibles" which many folks mention)

It would give Orlando home court advantage in the finals after they bury the Cadavaliers for a second year in a row in the playoffs.

Do you want to become the beautiful scenery this summer? or do you want to attract eyeball among the crowd?now,listen carefully,your wishes will come true here.we support all different kinds of beautiful leisure
production,such as sunglasses,t-shiirts and swim trunks et.from here,you will find your favorite things.What are you waiting for?go and choose the now!


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