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Lakers suffer another costly meltdown


PhilBoxing.com




SAN FRANCISCO --- Ahead by 16 points midway through the third quarter and up 92-81 with 7:20 left in the final period, the Los Angeles Lakers appeared well on their way to a solid road victory that would have pushed them to a 9-9 record in an extremely trying season.

But for the second time in as many games, the manpower-depleted Lakers suffered a massive meltdown, this time losing to the Houston Rockets, who scored a slim 107-105 decision Tuesday night at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Los Angeles, which played without point guards Steve Nash and Steve Blake, also didn't have Pau Gasol (knee tendinits) in the lineup. Nash has began working out after missing his 15th outing of the season but there is no definitive word yet on his comeback. Blake, meanwhile, will require abdominal surgery which will sideline him for four to six weeks.

Just like in their 113-103 loss to the Orlando Magic last Sunday night, the Lakers couldn't stop the Rockets from scoring in the final 12 minutes. Houston overhauled a double-digit deficit by outscoring L.A., 34-22, in the final period.

Reserves Toney Douglas and Greg Smith spearheaded the attack that bailed out the Rockets. The 6-foot-2 Douglas finished with 22 points while the 6-foot-10 Greg Smith, a lightly-used power forward, tallied 21. James Harden only had 15 points on an off night but he gathered ten rebounds and dished six assists. Jeremy Lin chalked four points, three assists and two turnovers.

Amazingly, the Rockets won despite making only 37.6 percent of their shots and 20.6 percent of their attempts beyond the three-point line. Houston, which has had its struggles early on, climbed one game over the .500 mark with a 9-8 slate for third place overall in the Southwest Division behind the 13-3 Memphis Grizzlies and the 14-4 San Antonio Spurs.

Kobe Bryant tried to carry the Lakers on his back and avert an upset. He scored 39 points but the team captain finished just 14 of 31 from the field and he missed seven of nine triples. Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison were a decen 10-for-20 from the field for a combined 31 points but the rest of the Lakers provided inadequate scoring support. (Joan Secuya-Medida)


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joan Secuya-Medida.


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