The reigning two-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers hope to avoid their first four-game losing streak since 2006-07 when they visit south Texas tonight to take on the Houston Rockets in the finale of a brief two-game road trip.
The Lakers lost the opener of the trek and their third straight overall on Tuesday in Memphis when Mike Conley poured in 28 points and Rudy Gay finished with 14 points and six blocks as the Grizzlies edged LA, 98-96.
Kobe Bryant finished with a game-high 29 points, and Pau Gasol added 15 points and 14 boards for the Lakers, who have lost three straight for the first time since March of last season when they dropped consecutive games to Miami, Charlotte and Orlando. It’s also just the second time since Gasol was acquired in 2008 from Memphis that LA has lost three in a row.
Ron Artest scored 12 and Lamar Odom supplied eight points and 11 rebounds in defeat.
“I just think we’re getting off to late starts in the third quarters,” Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said. “It’s really hard to come out in the third quarters. You’re not ready to play and, with teams getting a double digit lead, you have to fight it back. We have to come out with a little more energy.”
LA hasn’t lost four straight contests since April 8-13, 2007.
The Rockets, meanwhile, are coming off a loss to in-state rival Dallas on Monday when Dirk Nowitzki scored a game-high 20 points and Caron Butler had 19 for the Mavericks in a 101-91 victory.
Kevin Martin scored 17 points to lead the Rockets, who lost for the sixth time in eight games overall as they continue to play without center Yao Ming (left ankle bone bruise) and point guard Aaron Brooks (sprained left ankle). Luis Scola added 15 points and Courtney Lee had 13 off the bench for Houston.
“It’s just the same story,” center Brad Miller told the Rockets’ website. “We have just got to find a way to lock it down at one of those points and not allow big runs like that.”
The Lakers have won three straight in the series, including a 112-110 win in the season opener for both clubs this season at Staples Center on Oct. 26. LA roared back from a 15-point deficit in that one.