October 27, 2010 by staff
Lakers, LOS ANGELES – Lakers’ emotions ran high when the lights went out at the Staples Center. He walked to center court one by one, accepting a flashy ring before saying something honest about the teammate next in line.
The defending NBA champions twice needed every bit of those family ties only to survive the first test in a season that is sure to be full of them.
Kobe Bryant scored 27 points, newcomer Steve Blake hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 18.8 seconds left, and Los Angeles met late for a 112-110 victory over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night.
Pau Gasol had 29 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who hung the golden banner celebrating their sixteenth NBA championship rings handed impossible glitzy pre-game ceremony surprisingly touching.
“It’s always fun when night comes and there is a chance to enjoy it,” said Bryant, five-time champion, along with Derek Fisher. “And tonight was a little more special because everyone introduced each other. It’s special. We know that the bond we share, and (Fisher) to bring me there, which was great.”
But the champions then fell behind by 15 points before recovering to take a lead in the fourth quarter after a 3-point barrage Shannon Brown, who scored 14 of his 16 points in a span of 6 ½ minutes.
The clubs traded the lead four times in the last minute, but Luis Scola of Houston, missed a difficult shot with 3 tbsp seconds left. After an extensive review officials used video to give the ball loose in Houston with 2.4 seconds left, attempt to Aaron Brooks’ tray at the buzzer was blocked by Lamar Odom.
“Getting the rings, you’re definitely at the top,” said Brown, who rejected significant offers of free agency for a shot at a three-peat. “You have to back down, because that is history. That’s something nobody can take some time, but does not help us in the next game.”
Kevin Martin scored 26 points and Brooks had 18 of his 24 in the first half of Houston’s eighth loss in their last nine regular-season meetings with the Lakers.
Yao Ming had nine points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 6:30 left in the first game of the NBA playoffs since 2009 also against the Lakers. The Chinese center missed last season after surgery on his left foot, but the Rockets were in position to an impressive victory until the bell.
“They are the world champions, and we knew it was going to be tough,” said Houston coach Rick Adelman. “But I thought we responded pretty well. I think (by) about seven minutes, but we did not play the way we’re capable of, and back in the game.”
Brooks blamed for the failure of the Rockets in the final seconds after curling under the basket.
“When I took the ball, I knew exactly where he was on the ground,” said Brooks. “Then I took a boat and realized where I was, and I tried to drive, but kind of slipped my leg.”
The Rockets made it easy for the celebration at the Lakers game first real home, as heartbreaking, coming from behind victory in Game 7 of the NBA finals four months ago. Los Angeles trailed by 11 points late in the third quarter before a 21-4 run with 12 consecutive points.
The Lakers took a bit understandable that the focus after the pregame festivities.
The nine remaining Lakers rings are too small asteroids designed by owner Jerry Buss. Feature 16 diamonds of great size for each share of the Lakers, three-dimensional representation of the face of each player, and even a small piece of skin of a basketball used in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
In contrast, the ring ceremony was all heart. David Stern, commissioner of the NBA and the Lakers executive Jeanie Buss stood at midcourt waiting for coach Phil Jackson, who accepted his ring 11 and said a kind word forward before the introduction of Luke Walton, who presented Odom, who had Ron Artest – all the way to the introduction of Bryant Fisher to thunderous applause.
“I think the players were emboldened by the ring,” said Jackson. “I think they were excited about it, so part of it, I thought it was good. I do not think playing with the right speed and rhythm in the first half. We have a lot of shots, not a lot of good .
The Lakers hung with Bryant and Gasol score, and Blake hit back-to-back 3-points in the final minute of the third quarter to cut Houston’s lead to five points entering the fourth.
Tray Brown put the Lakers ahead 88-86 with 9:08 left near the end of the Lakers’ big run, but Houston took a 108-107 lead with 53 seconds left. Gasol and Scola trade baskets before Blake opened the perimeter and confidently drained his third 3-pointer.
“It feels great to contribute in his first game, but it’s even better to win in his first game,” said Blake.
Notes: Walton missed the first game with a strained hamstring, while Houston F Chuck Hayes played with a sprained right ankle. … Houston won a season-opening victory at the Staples Center three years ago, before the Lakers acquired Gasol and began his streak of three straight NBA Finals. … For 27 consecutive years, Jeffrey Osborne sang the national anthem at the opening of the Lakers. court included Denzel Washington fans, David Beckham, Justin Bieber and Jaden Smith. ex wife of Shaquille O’Neal, Shaunie, watched from a row behind Jeanie Buss.
© 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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