Lakers Mount Second-Half Comeback To Beat Rockets On Ring Night

The Lakers are 17-2 in their last 19 season openers.

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Lakers 112, Rockets 110: Game Recap

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Steve Blake made the game-winning three- pointer with 18.8 seconds remaining, as the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers snuck past the Houston Rockets, 112-110, in the season opener for both teams.

The Lakers needed seven games to beat the Celtics in the NBA Finals last season. Prior to Tuesday's game, Los Angeles raised its 16th championship banner to the rafters and received its rings.

Blake, who spent last season with the Clippers and Trail Blazers, ended with 10 points off the bench for the Lakers, who got 29 points and 11 rebounds from Pau Gasol. Kobe Bryant tallied 27 points, seven assists, and five rebounds.

Kevin Martin finished with 26 points in his Rockets debut. Aaron Brooks scored 24 points and dished out nine assists. Luis Scola had 18 points and 16 rebounds.

Yao Ming, who was playing in a meaningful game for the first time since breaking his foot against the Lakers in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals back in the 2008-09 campaign, chipped in with nine points and 11 boards.

The Rockets missed the playoffs for the first time in four years last season and added big man Brad Miller in the offseason. Miller had nine points and nine rebounds off the bench.

Trailing by six, 86-80, early in the fourth, the Lakers ripped off 12 consecutive points. Shannon Brown had five points during the burst that Blake capped with a free throw for a 92-86 lead with under eight minutes to play.

Martin's three-point play had Houston within one, 92-91, but Gasol made a free throw and Brown made a pair of three-pointers to give Los Angeles a 99-91 margin with 5 1/2 minutes to go.

Trailing 107-102, the Rockets scored six straight points to make things interesting. Miller made two free throws to give Houston a 108-107 lead with 53.9 ticks remaining.

The margin was the same following buckets from Gasol and Scola. Blake then drilled a key three-pointer to give the Lakers a 112-110 edge with 18.8 seconds to go.

Scola missed a layup at the opposite end of the floor. Replay was used to determine who knocked the ball out on the rebounds. The refs gave the ball to Houston following the review with 2.4 ticks left.

Brooks failed to get a good shot off under the basket with two Los Angeles players all over him.

The Rockets controlled the first half and took a 62-51 lead into the locker room.

Blake made back-to-back three-pointers at the end of the third to get Los Angeles within five, 82-77.

Los Angeles took three of four meetings with Houston last season and has won eight of the past nine matchups between the teams...The Lakers have won their last three season openers...Lakers center Andrew Bynum is still recovering from knee surgery...Houston turned the ball over 21 times, leading to 20 Los Angeles points.

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Lakers 112, Rockets 110: Shannon Brown, Steve Blake Key Furious Laker Comeback

Reserve guards Shannon Brown and Steve Blake keyed a second-half run by the Los Angeles Lakers, leading them to a 112-110 victory over the Houston Rockets on opening night at Staples Center. There were four lead changes in the final minute, with the final lead coming courtesy of a three-pointer by Blake with 18.8 seconds remaining. The Lakers are 17-2 in their last 19 opening nights.

The Lakers trailed for most of the night, and the Houston lead swelled to 15 midway through the third quarter. That's when the Laker bench mounted a comeback.

The Lakers trailed 82-71 with 1:47 remaining in the third quarter, but Steve Blake hit two three-pointers to end the third quarter with the Lakers only down by five points. Brown hit four three-pointers in the final period, scoring 14 points in the fourth, as the Lakers went on a 28-9 run over a nearly nine-minute stretch to build an eight-point lead with five and a half minutes remaining.

However, the Rockets mounted a comeback of their own, retaking the lead at 108-107 on two Brad Miller free throws with 53.9 seconds left. Pau Gasol and Luis Scola traded buckets, giving the Rockets the lead before Blake's three-pointer. Aaron Brooks missed a heavily-contested reverse layup attempt with under a second remaining, preserving the Lakers' victory.

The Lakers made two of their first 12 three pointers, but beginning with the final two minutes of the third quarter the Lakers made seven of their final nine attempts from beyond the arc, all by Brown and Blake. Gasol and Lamar Odom each had double-doubles for the Lakers, Gasol with 29 points and 11 boards, and Odom with 14 points and 10 points.

For more Lakers news and analysis, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.

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Lakers Vs. Rockets: Justin Bieber To Blame For Lakers First Half Woes

The Houston Rockets continued their quest to ruin the celebration of the Los Angeles Lakers, widening their lead to 62-51 at halftime over Los Angeles at Staples Center.

Jeanie Buss was interviewed by Cheryl Miller during the second quarter, and said that while she has Phil Jackson's ring for safekeeping, the ring was temporarily loaned to apparent superstar and American succubus Justin Bieber, who is sitting courtside tonight (image courtesy of bubbaprog at  mocksession.com):

Lakers_bieber_medium

The Rockets out-rebounded the Lakers 29-24 in the first half, and shot 47.9% compared to just 38.9% for the Lakers. The Lakers made just two of 11 three-pointers, missing all five in the second quarter.

Kevin Martin of the Rockets picked up a garbage technical foul late in the second quarter, thanks to the new NBA rules, cracking down on human emotion. Martin had a gesture toward the official, but it wasn't much more than a single arm wave, but paid the price.

Martin had 19 points in 16 minutes, to go along with his back court mate Aaron Brooks, who pumped in 18 points.

Lamar Odom had 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting and six boards, but was limited to 12 minutes after picking up two fouls early in the first quarter. Pau Gasol also scored 12 points, but none in the second quarter. Kobe Bryant scored 13 points, but was just 4-of-13 shooting.

For more Lakers news and information, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.

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Lakers Vs. Rockets: Houston Leads 33-26 After First Quarter

The Los Angeles Lakers celebrated their 16th championship by collecting their rings and unveiling a banner at Staples Center, but the Houston Rockets started off hot, taking a 33-26 lead after the first quarter in tonight's season opener for both teams.

Head coach Phil Jackson opened the player introductions by saying of Luke Walton, "It’s been said that Bill may be his father, but he’s really my son." This came after assistant coach Rasheed Hazzard was accidentally skipped over during coach introductions, and before Ron Artest pointed to the wrong part of the arena to announce the unveiling of the championship banner.

Artest also said "2010-2011" instead of 2009-2010, but I'd like to think he was simply foreshadowing. Here's a look at the front of a championship ring, per the NBA:

Lakers_championship_ring_2009-10_medium

While the Lakers were getting their rings, the Rockets were back in the locker room, per beat writer Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Rick Adelman said Rockets will skip the Lakers' ring ceremony 'unless we get raffle tickets for Ron's ring.'

Guards Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin combined for 27 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including making five out of seven three-point attempts. The Rockets shot 47.8% for the quarter, compared to just 36.4% (12-of-33) for the Lakers.

Pau Gasol led the Lakers in the first quarter with 12 points, while Ron Artest pumped in eight points, including two threes, and six rebounds.

Rookie forward Derrick Caracter entered his first NBA game quite early, subbing with 8:43 left in the quarter for Lamar Odom, who picked up two quick fouls.

For more Lakers news and information, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.

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Lakers Vs. Rockets: Opening Night Lineups

The Los Angeles Lakers begin defense of their back-to-back NBA titles tonight against the Houston Rockets. In edition to watching Laker players introduce one another as they collect their championship rings, fans at Staples Center will all be given yellow shirts with "back to back champions" on the front:

Lakers_back_to_back_shirts_medium

Here is a look at the probable starting lineups for tonight, plus an injury report for both teams:

Rockets

Point Guard: Aaron Brooks

Shooting Guard: Kevin Martin

Small Forward: Shane Battier

Power Forward: Luis Scola

Center: Yao Ming

Chuck Hayes is nursing a sprained right ankle, and Kyle Lowry has back spasms for the Rockets

Lakers

Point Guard: Derek Fisher

Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant

Small Forward: Ron Artest

Power Forward: Lamar Odom

Center: Pau Gasol

In addition to Andrew Bynum, Luke Walton is out with a strained right hamstring. Derrick Caracter is probable with back spasms.

For more Lakers news and information, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.

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Lakers Vs. Rockets: A Preview Of Opening Night

(Sports Network) - All the stars will be out tonight in Hollywood, where the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers will raise their 16th championship banner to the rafters before hosting the Houston Rockets in the season lid-lifter for both clubs from Staples Center.

Los Angeles beat the rival Boston Celtics in seven games to win its second straight title and fifth since the 1999-2000 campaign. Led by superstar Kobe Bryant, the Lakers return a strong core of players in search of another three- peat. The 2010-11 season could also be the last for head coach Phil Jackson, a winner of 11 NBA titles as a coach and owner of a .705 regular-season winning percentage. Jackson also has 225 postseason wins under his belt.

Jackson said that he was leaning toward retirement after guiding the Lakers to their second championship in a row, but is back despite health concerns and looks to record his 12th NBA coaching championship. Jackson accepted a pay cut to return to the Lakers and has a career record of 1,098 wins and 460 losses over 19 seasons, having won six titles with Chicago and five more with LA.

His teams have finished no worse than third in a division at any time. Jackson has never had a losing record in any season and his 11 titles are the most in league history, two more than Boston's Red Auerbach. He had the luxury of coaching Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, who averaged 27.0 points last season. Bryant underwent surgery to repair a balky right knee, but opted not to have his broken right index finger repaired.

Bryant has stated that his finger still bothers him and undergoing additional surgery would have pushed his recovery time back even more. Bryant has helped the Lakers to at least 57 wins in each of the past three seasons and five straight playoff appearances. Bryant earned finals MVP honors for the second straight year and will not have young center Andrew Bynum by his side since the big man is still recovering from right knee surgery.

"Everything is going well with the knee," Bynum told the team's site. "I started doing a lot more cardio stuff, lifting legs, getting back into shape. When I come back, I want to be ready to go, so I'm working really hard to get there."

Bynum is expected to miss a few more weeks, leaving inside work to Pau Gasol.

Houston Rockets All-Star center Yao Ming is familiar with rehab and battling his way back to the hardwood. The 7-foot-6 Yao hasn't played since breaking his foot against the Lakers in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals back in the 2008-09 campaign. He has been limited by injury over the last few years and missed all of last season.

The Rockets missed the playoffs for the first time in four years last season and added big man Brad Miller in the offseason as insurance to Yao. Head coach Rick Adelman likes his team's depth and has a solid nucleus with Kevin Martin, Aaron Brooks and Luis Scola. Martin led the way with 21.3 points last season and also appeared in 22 games with Sacramento.

Finishing third in the Southwest Division in three of the last four years is something the Rockets would like to change in 2010-11. That's easier said than done when a team is locked in a division with Dallas, San Antonio, New Orleans and an improving Memphis squad. Adelman seemed optimistic on his team's preparation for the season opener at Los Angeles and Golden State.

"I think we're ready to go," Adelman was quoted as saying on the Houston Chronicle website. "We'll see where we stand. Once we start the regular season, you'll get a feel for where we are, especially with the two teams we're starting with."

Adelman's club will see first-hand what a ring ceremony is like when the Lakers receive their jewelry for last year's accomplishments.

Los Angeles took three of four meetings with Houston last season and has won seven of the past eight matchups between the teams. The Lakers have won their last two season openers, while Houston dropped its 2009-10 opener. The Rockets defeated the Lakers, 95-93, to kick off the 2007-08 campaign.

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Lakers Vs. Rockets: By The Numbers

The Los Angeles Lakers open their season tonight against the Houston Rockets, in their 51st season in Los Angeles. Here is a look at tonight's matchup, by the numbers:

  • The Lakers are 35-15 in regular season openers since moving to Los Angeles
  • The Lakers are 13-4 when opening the regular season at home
  • The Lakers have won six of their last seven season openers and are 16-2 on opening night dating back to 1992
  • This is the fifth straight season the Lakers have opened at home
  • The Lakers have opened their season against the Rockets five times, and are 1-4 in those games
  • The Lakers are 33-17 in their 50 home openers in Los Angeles
  • The Lakers have won 15 of their last 18 home openers
  • The Lakers won three of four regular season games last season against the Rockets, and are 7-1 in the last two regular seasons against Houston
  • The Rockets have won five of their last 10 regular season games at Staples Center
  • The Lakers are 127-61 all-time against the Rockets, including 69-25 in Los Angeles

For more Lakers news and information, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.

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Lakers Set Opening Night Roster Against Rockets

On the eve of the Los Angeles Lakers' season opener against the Houston Rockets tonight at Staples Center, the opening roster was set. Here's a look at the opening night roster for the Lakers, with some notes:

Starters

Pos Player Comment
PG Derek Fisher           
Made half of his three-pointers in the preseason (5-of-10)
SG Kobe Bryant Shot 28.2% while nursing a knee injury in preseason
SF Ron Artest Lost nearly 20 pounds from last season
PF Lamar Odom Nursing thumb, nose, and back injuries, but is OK to play
C Pau Gasol Missed first 11 games of 2009-2010; possibly healthiest Laker right now

 

Reserves

Pos Player Comment
G Shannon Brown Made 9 of 19 three-pointers and averaged 1.5 steals in the preseason
G Steve Blake Had 29 assists and 10 turnovers in the preseason
F Matt Barnes One of seven Lakers to play all 8 preseason games
G Sasha Vujacic Missed three games with a concussion but played final two games
C Theo Ratliff Averaged 15.3 minutes during preseason
F Derrick Caracter       Rookie figures to see minutes with depleted front line
G Devin Ebanks Rookie made 17 of 19 free throws during preseason

 

Injured

  • Andrew Bynum is out until at least Thanksgiving, if not December, as he recovers from right knee surgery.
  • Luke Walton is out with a strained right hamstring.

In addition, tonight is ring night, and the Lakers will get their rings in different ceremony, per Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register:

It will be a unique ceremony, with a format meant to reflect the deeper bonds that go into being back-to-back NBA champions. After Lakers coach Phil Jackson receives his championship ring, he will take the Staples Center public-address microphone and do a brief, self-scripted introduction of the first Lakers player. Each player will come forward to receive his ring – and then perform his own individual introduction for the next player.

For more Lakers news and analysis, be sure to read the Lakers blog Silver Screen and Roll.

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A History Of Kobe Bryant And Lakers Season Openers

If you want to feel old, simply remind yourself of the fact that Tuesday night will mark the beginning of Kobe Bryant's 15th season in the NBA. No player has ever played in 15 seasons for the Lakers, with only Kobe, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, and Elgin Baylor playing in 14 seasons for the franchise.

Bryant has been healthy enough to play in 10 of the previous 14 season openers for the Lakers, and in those games the Lakers are 8-2.

Kobe Bryant in season openers
Year Opp Dec Min FG-A FT-A 3pt-A Pts Reb Ast Stl Blk TO PF
1997-98 Utah W 33 5-13 13-14 0-2 23 3 5 1 0 1 1
1999 Hou W 44 8-21 7-9 2-3 25 10 2 2 3 2 4
2000-01 @Por W 35 4-11 6-6 0-1 14 2 2 1 1 7 4
2001-02 Por W 43 11-24 6-8 1-1 29 7 4 3 1 2 0
2002-03 SA L 43 9-29 8-12 1-2 27 10 5 4 2 6 3
2004-05 Den W 42 5-14 14-15 1-2 25 4 7 1 3 4 2
2005-06 @Den W 44 13-28 7-7 0-1 33 5 4 1 2 6 4
2007-08 Hou L 43 13-32 18-27 1-3 45 8 4 4 1 5 4
2008-09 Por W 33 9-17 4-5 1-1 23 11 5 1 0 5 3
2009-10 LAC W 38 11-26 11-12 0-1 33 8 3 4 1 2 2
Totals 8-2 398 88-215 94-115 7-17 277 68 41 22 14 40 27
Averages .800 39.8 40.9% 81.7% 41.2% 27.7 6.8 4.1 2.2 1.4 4.0 2.7

Over on the Lakers' blog Silver Screen and Roll, Dexter Fishmore tabbed Bryant's turnover rate as a particular statistic to watch this season:

Kobe Bryant's Turnover Rate. This isn't the biggest deal in the world, but Kobe became a shade more turnover-prone last season. For every 100 plays he used, he coughed the ball up more than 11 times, after doing so less than 10 times per 100 plays in 2008-09. It amounts to about one extra turnover for every two games played.

My first thought was to blame his injured finger, which did seem to affect his handle at times, but it turns out his 2008-09 turnover rate is the outlier here. His numbers from last season are right in line with his career average. So really, we shouldn't expect big variation one way or another, but if his turnover habits continue to worsen, it'll be a mildly alarming indicator that something's amiss.

For more Lakers news and analysis, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.

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Lakers Ready To Host Rockets On Ring Night Tuesday At Staples Center

As the Lakers prepare for their season opener, Tuesday night against the Rockets at Staples Center, it will be their 11th ring night since moving to Los Angeles in 1961. The Lakers are 6-4 in their home openers following a championship in Los Angeles. Here's a look at the previous 10 Los Angeles ring nights:

The defending champion Lakers opened their season on the road in 1972, 1980, 1985, 1988, and 2000.

The Lakers have gotten off to good starts to their season in each of the last two years, both of which ended with an NBA championship. Here is their October/November record of the past few seasons:

  • October/November 2009: 13-3
  • October/November 2008: 14-1
  • October/November 2007: 9-7
  • October/November 2006: 10-5

Over on the Lakers' blog Silver Screen and Roll, Saurav A. Das broke down the Lakers' 2010-2011 schedule, and sees another good start in their future:

The Lakers open the season without an especially tough palette of opponents. Whilst this season lacks the remarkable home/away imbalance of last season (no 20-game homestands here), the Lakers start off the season on a relatively cushy note with only two challenging games at Denver and hosting Chicago, as well as a couple of decent matchups at Utah and against Portland at home. This is of immense benefit to the Lakers considering the number of players they need to work back in from injury and the number of new players that need to be acclimated; and it also hopefully means Andrew Bynum will be back before the Lakers really need him.

Prediction: 16-2 or maybe 15-3, with the losses being @Denver on Nov. 11 and the season opener against Houston. A loss vs. Utah on Nov. 26 is also possible.

The Lakers have opened their season against the Rockets five previous times, with Houston winning four of those games. However, the Lakers made the NBA Finals in three of those seasons, winning two championships:

Tuesday's 7:30 p.m. PDT game will be televised exclusively by TNT.

For more Lakers news and analysis, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.

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