Lamar Odom produced a fine performance to help the Los Angeles Lakers survive a ragged offensive outing as they beat the Houston Rockets 88-79 on Tuesday. Despite missing practice a day earlier through stomach pain, Odom filled in for the injured Pau Gasol and nearly posted a triple-double with 17 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists.
Centre Andrew Bynum had a team-high 24 points and Kobe Bryant added 22, including several key fourth-quarter plays, as the defending NBA champions ground out a fourth straight win. "The guy who was pretty sick and unable to practice for us ended up being the star of the game," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He had a terrific game. He knew we were at a deficit without Pau Gasol." Carl Landry scored 19 points off the bench and Aaron Brooks chipped in 18 for the Rockets (20-15), who suffered a second straight defeat.
Trailing for a majority of the game, Houston rallied to reduce the deficit to just two points with 3:55 left but Bryant answered with an assist on a three-point play and a jump shot, before Bynum made a hook shot to push the lead back to 80-73. All-Star forward Gasol missed the contest for Los Angeles (28-6) after straining his left hamstring in Sunday's win against the Dallas Mavericks. Gasol missed the season's first 11 games with an injury to his right hamstring and will again be sidelined.
Elsewhere, Phoenix Suns inflicted a 10th consecutive defeat on Sacramento Kings. The Suns won 113-109 with Steve Nash claiming 30 points and 12 assists, as Phoenix ended a seven-game away losing streak. "We're a little bit disappointed because we don't know if the game should have gotten that close," the Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. * With agencies *with agencies