Lakers just get by Rockets for victory
The Lakers had all they could handle before they defeated the Houston Rockets on the night L.A. got its 2010 NBA championships rings.
It took a big effort from the Lakers' bench as well as 29 points and 11 rebounds from Pau Gasol and 27 points from Kobe Bryant.
Shannon Brown had 16 points off the bench for the Lakers while reserve point guard Steve Blake had 10.
After Rockets forward Luis Scola missed a shot that could have tied the score, the ball went out of bounds and was awarded to the Lakers.
But after the officials reviewed the play, they awarded it back to the Rockets with 2.4 seconds left and the Lakers leading, 112-110.
Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks broke inside for a layup that was blocked by Blake, giving the Lakers the victory in both teams' season opener at Staples Center on Tuesday night.
Brooks (24 points, 9 assists) and guard Kevin Martin (26 points) paced the offense. Power forward Luis Scola finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds while forward Chase Budinger had 13 points off the bench. Center Yao Ming, who fouled out after playing 23 minutes, had nine points on four-of-11 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds. Reserve center Brad Miller had nine points and nine rebounds.
Rockets 82, Lakers 77 (end of third quarter)
It didn't help the Lakers that Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom both had to go to the bench in the third quarter because they each picked up their fourth foul.
That meant Ron Artest had to play power forward and Theo Ratliff was at center.
Gasol took 21 points and eight rebounds to the bench with him and Odom had 12 points and eight rebounds when he went to the bench.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Steve Blake helped the Lakers pull to within five poinnts at the end of the third quarter as they closed it on a 13-7 run.
Rockets 62, Lakers 51 (halftime)
The Lakers trailed by as many as 15 points in the seccond quarter before pulling to within 11 points at halftime.
Lamar Odom gave the Lakers a boost in the second quarter, scoring 10 of his 12 points. Pau Gasol also has 12 points with five rebounds. Ron Artest (eight points) and Odom lead the team with six rebounds at halftime.
Kobe Bryant had 13 points by halftime, but he was just four-for-12 shooting from the field. The Lakers made only 39% of their shots in the half.
Houston center Yao Ming, playing his first game in 15 months, had four points in a little more than 11 minutes of play.
The backcourt duo of Aaron Brooks (18 points) and Kevin Martin (19) led the Rockets offense.
Brooks was particularly effective in pushing the pace and making his shots: five of eight from the field, including four of five from three-point range. The Rockets shot 48% from the field in the half.
Houston Rockets 33, Lakers 26 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers didn't look sharp at all in the first quarter, especially Kobe Bryant.
Bryant had two points on one-for-five shooting. He made his first shot before missing four in a row.
Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 12 points.
Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks led Houston with 15 points in the first quarter.
Though Kobe Bryant shot only 28.2% from the field and just 17.2% from three-point range during the exhibition season, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said before his team took on the Houston Rockets at Staples Center in both team' season opener tonight that his star guard felt ready for the game.
Bryant had off-season surgery on his right knee and never was effective during his seven exhibition games.
Jackson said Bryant will measure out how he feels against the Rockets.
"He'll know exactly how he's doing," Jackson said. "He says his recovery is probably good as far as conditioning. It's how strong he's going to be physically."
The Lakers will have a pregame ceremony to get their championship rings before the game starts.
Jackson wasn't worried about his team getting too emotional during the ceremony and then starting flat or playing uninspired against the Rockets.
"You just tell them go and enjoy the ring ceremony and then let's get down to business," Jackson said.
Photo: Lakers forward Ron Artest has his shot challenged by Houston center Yao Ming in the first half Tuesday night. Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times