Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/12

Game 1: Tuesday, December 12th
Game 2: Friday, December 15th
Game 3: Wednesday, January 10th
Game 4: Friday, March 30th

Lakers 77

(23-13, 7-9 away)

Rockets 102

(23-13, 13-3 home)

    Coverage: FSSW

    7:30 PM ET, January 10, 2007

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    LAL 22 24 12 1977
    HOU 24 23 25 30102

    Top Performers

    LAL: K. Bryant 20 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl

    Hou: J. Howard 23 Pts, 11 Reb, 2 Stl

    Howard scores 23, Mutombo has five blocks in Rockets' win

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Dikembe Mutombo swatted the shot by the kid half his age, then wagged his index finger to the crowd's delight.

    Elias Says
    Dikembe Mutombo
    Dikembe Mutombo had seven points and 19 rebounds in the Rockets' 102-77 victory over the Lakers. It was Mutombo's eighth straight game with double-digit rebounds and single-digit points. The only other active NBA players who have ever done that in eight consecutive games are Tyson Chandler (a 10-game streak last season) and Ben Wallace (separate streaks of eight and nine games).

    • Read more Elias Says.

    Mutombo stuffed another shot by Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum 3 minutes later to move past Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and into second place on the all-time blocks list.

    The 40-year-old Mutombo had five blocks in all and matched a season high with 19 rebounds in the Houston Rockets' 102-77 win over the Lakers on Wednesday night. He now has 3,191 blocks, two more than Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time list.

    "When I came into the league 16 years ago, I told myself that I just want to be remembered for one thing," Mutombo said, "just to be one of the great defensive players to ever play this game."

    The Rockets have won seven of nine games since Yao Ming broke a bone in his right leg and much of it is due to the suddenly spry Mutombo, who's had double-digit rebound totals in eight consecutive games.

    "It's amazing, just the way I'm playing," said the 7-foot-2 Mutombo. "Even to myself, I'm sitting down like, 'Whoa, is Mutombo really playing like that?' I haven't seen myself jumping for a rebound like that for a while."

    Mutombo's three children -- ages 9, 5 and 3 -- have nagged him lately about when he was going to pass Abdul-Jabbar. He had only one block in each of Houston's last four games.

    "Now, they're going to leave me alone," he said. "No more asking, 'Daddy! When are you going to block all the shots and break the record?"

    Mutombo is still 639 blocks from all-time leader, former Rocket and fellow African Hakeem Olajuwon. Mutombo hasn't said when he'll retire, but promises he won't stick around long enough to threaten Olajuwon's mark.

    "I will leave that to my brother," he said. "He can keep that torch for the next generation."

    While Mutombo led the Rockets' stifling defense, Juwan Howard scored a season-high 23 points and Rafer Alston added 20.

    Houston also snapped a four-game losing streak to the Lakers with little scoring help from Tracy McGrady, who'd topped 30 points in each of his last six games. McGrady had only eight points and appeared to aggravate his troublesome back late in the first half. He also had 12 assists.

    Kobe Bryant scored 20 points, but went 6-for-18 from the field, for the Lakers, who were held to a season-low point total. Bryant suffered a minor groin strain in the second quarter and left the game with 3:33 left after playing 34 minutes.

    Bryant said after the game the injury was "tight," but said he would be ready to play on Friday against Orlando.

    "I will let it chill and I should be fine," he said.

    The Lakers shot 34 percent (26 of 76) and mustered a season-low 31 points in the second half.

    Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Mutombo was only part of his team's offensive struggles.

    "The Rockets played good defense and Mutombo had some big blocks and we couldn't shoot the ball in the second half," Jackson said. "Our passing failed us and we didn't shoot the ball well."

    The Rockets built an early seven-point lead despite McGrady's 2-for-6 start. Bryant scored 10 points in the second quarter during an 11-4 spurt to pull to a 41-41 tie.

    McGrady, who missed seven games last month with back spasms, was fouled on a drive by Brian Cook in the final minute of the half and winced in pain as he walked to the free-throw line. He missed both shots and had only six points at the break, though he also had six assists.

    Alston, coming off a 2-for-14 shooting night against Chicago on Monday, sank a 3-pointer, then drove for a layup early in the third quarter as the Rockets rebuilt their seven-point lead.

    McGrady badly missed his first three shots of the second half, but Shane Battier swished 3-pointers to keep Houston in front.

    After Mutombo's blocks on the 19-year-old Bynum, Alston scored on two drives as the Rockets finished the third quarter with an 8-0 run and led 72-58. In the closing seconds of the quarter, Jackson got ejected by referee Tony Brothers for protesting a no-call.

    McGrady went to the bench with 10:14 left, but the Rockets still pulled away. Howard scored twice inside, then hit a 20-footer to boost the lead to 80-60.

    Luther Head drove for an unlikely dunk over Ronny Turiaf with 4:44 left, putting the Rockets up 88-66 and finishing off the Lakers.

    Game notes

    The Lakers lost for only the third time in their last 12 games with the Rockets in Houston. ... The Rockets improved to 8-0 this season when they score 100 points at home. ... Houston Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans and Tennessee quarterback and Houston native Vince Young, the NFL's Defensive and Offensive Rookies of the Year, sat at courtside, about 30 seats apart.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 77 102
    FGM-FGA 26-76 (.342) 42-95 (.442)
    3PM-3PA 3-18 (.167) 12-36 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 22-25 (.880) 6-10 (.600)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 7-43 16-56
    Assists 14 25
    Turnovers 12 9
    Steals 3 8
    Blocks 3 6
    Fast Break Points 4 16
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 12 (3/0) 23 (2/0)
    Largest Lead 6 26

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Kobe Bryant Bryant
    Points: 20
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Juwan Howard Howard
    Points: 23
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0