Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/13

Game 1: Saturday, November 13th
Game 2: Friday, January 7th
Game 3: Sunday, February 6th
Game 4: Thursday, April 7th

Lakers 102

(24-21, 7-11 away)

Rockets 103

(28-21, 15-10 home)

    2:30 PM ET, February 6, 2005

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    LAL 14 25 30 33102
    HOU 24 26 34 19103

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles: L. Odom 22 Pts, 12 Reb, 8 Ast, 1 Blk

    Houston: B. Sura 19 Pts, 12 Reb, 8 Ast, 5 Stl

    McGrady, Sura also step up in Rockets' win

    HOUSTON (AP) -- When Lamar Odom put up a rare miss in the fourth quarter, Yao Ming didn't give him another chance to steal the game away from the Houston Rockets.

    Yao rebounded the carom and went on to make the winning free throws with 15.2 seconds left, leading the Rockets to a 103-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

    "I knew I could make that because I had missed too many before," said Yao, apparently unaware that he went 5-of-6 from the line en route to 23 points. "It's great to get the win."

    Tracy McGrady had 21 points and Bob Sura had 19 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and five steals for the Rockets, who have won four straight and eight of their last 10.

    Los Angeles forward Brian Cook missed a potential winning 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds to play, and the Lakers fumbled away the ensuing rebound as the clock expired.

    Cook flashed a pained smile as the Rockets stormed onto the court, and Yao pumped his fist before running into a mob of teammates to celebrate another close win.

    "When it came off my fingers it felt good," Cook said. "If I had that shot again, I'd take it 10 more times."

    Odom scored 14 of his 22 points in the final period, and Chucky Atkins added 21 for the Lakers, who came up just short in their bid to win for the first time under interim coach Frank Hamblen.

    Hamblen took over Wednesday when Rudy Tomjanovich resigned as head coach, citing health concerns. Hamblen, a 57-year-old career assistant, again lobbied for the return of Phil Jackson before the game.

    Hamblen said that he'd spoken with Tomjanovich on Friday. Tomjanovich was headed to Hawaii this weekend for a brief getaway with his wife, Hamblen said. "He's in a lot better spirits," Hamblen said.

    The Lakers really could've used the late-game poise of Jackson and Kobe Bryant, who hasn't played since Jan. 13 when he severely sprained his right ankle.

    The Rockets led by 16 at one point in the fourth quarter and seemed well on their way to an easy victory. But Odom emerged from a three-quarter funk to almost single-handedly rally the Lakers.

    "My focus just shifted the second half," Odom said. "I just had to think, 'To the hole, to the hole' until I started making plays. Then I knew I was in a rhythm."

    McGrady said, "The fourth quarter was the Lamar Odom Show. He was doing eveyrthing. He was making things happen."

    Odom scored the Lakers' first seven points of the quarter, found Atkins for a 3-pointer and blew past Yao for a layup that brought Los Angeles within 98-96. The sellout crowd of 18,201 -- Houston's largest of the season -- fell silent and the Rockets quickly called a timeout.

    The Lakers eventually went ahead 100-99 on Atkins' 3 with 1:54 left. Odom swatted away Juwan Howard's layup on the next possession and Atkins made two free throws to give Los Angeles a three-point lead.

    Houston took over from there.

    Sura hit two free throws to pull Houston within a point and Odom missed a jumper to set up the final sequence.

    The Rockets got the ball down low to Yao, who muscled his way between a couple of defenders and was fouled. He calmly made the go-ahead free throws.

    "We did everything in the last three quarters you would usually do to lose," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "We got a good cushion and then they dominated the game in the second half.

    "You know I'm just being honest ... It's a great win."

    The Lakers dropped to 5-6 without Bryant. Hamblen said Bryant should play at some point during this five-game road trip.

    Game notes

    Midway through the second quarter, Yao and Atkins faced off in a seemingly lopsided matchup for a jump ball -- Yao is 7-foot-6, Atkins 5-11; a height difference of 19 inches. Yao controlled the tap, but the Rockets couldn't handle it and Caron Butler streaked down the court for a breakaway dunk. "I knew wasn't going to win the jump. The guy is eight-foot tall," said Atkins, exaggerating Yao's height by six inches. ... Houston tied a season high with 14 steals. ... The Lakers scored 63 second-half points against the Rockets, the most they've allowed this season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 102 103
    FGM-FGA 38-79 (.481) 40-91 (.440)
    3PM-3PA 8-23 (.348) 10-26 (.385)
    FTM-FTA 18-23 (.783) 13-18 (.722)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 17-54 14-36
    Assists 23 25
    Turnovers 21 9
    Steals 3 14
    Blocks 2 5
    Fast Break Points 4 14
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 18 (0/0) 18 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 3 16

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Lamar Odom Odom
    Points: 22
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 8
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1
    Bob Sura Sura
    Points: 19
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 8
    Stl: 5
    Blk: 0