Lakers 112, Rockets 101

The last time the Lakers played a double overtime game came on the last night of the 2003-04 regular season. Kobe Bryant hit not one but two incredible jumpers over Theo Ratliff as the Lakers won the Pacific Division. There are a couple of pictures of the two shots posted in the Lakers’ p.r. office to this day.

I’m not sure if Friday’s game tops that one but it was, as public address announcer Lawrence Tanter signed off by saying, “a game we’ll all remember for a long, long time.”

Bryant’s twisting dunk over Yao Ming – - who had a Ratliff-like game blocking shots – - in the second overtime had to be the play of the night. But I think Bryant’s steal coming out of a timeout with 2:21 left in the fourth quarter helped turn the game around.

If you remember, Smush Parker had just lost the ball out of bounds at the other end. The Lakers were trailing 85-81 and had possession. Bryant jumps on a pass to Luther Head and races the other way where he draws a foul and hits two free throws. Now you’re looking at a two-point game.

Considering Bryant had played 42 minutes by then, it was a hell of a defensive effort. The next time down court, he drove and kicked out a pass to Parker for a 3-pointer that put the Lakers ahead. They still needed two overtimes to win but the game could have gone either way there in the fourth quarter.

Some other thoughts before heading to bed. . . .

The Hack-A-Kwame backfired with 59.1 seconds left when Head was called for a foul away from the play on Brown. Bryant hit the free throw but the Lakers couldn’t capitalize as Luke Walton was blocked by Yao. You have to wonder if the Rockets decision to start intentionally fouling Brown didn’t throw them off every so slightly. Brown did miss three of four free throws.

Kobe Bryant after the game: “Even though we were down 20, I felt lke the game was ours, as funny as that sounds.”

The Lakers finished what looked like an impossible week of games – - San Antonio, at Houston, at Dallas, Houston – - by going 3-1. They’ve won six games already in December, a month in which somebody who shall remain nameless picked them to finish 8-8. They should have some momentum leaving on the big six-game trip Monday.

Another thing: The Lakers again stopped a losing streak before it started. They’ve dropped consecutive games only once this season. That’s one of the things that separates good teams from great ones.

Phil Jackson was in full coach’s mode after the game, talking about avoiding a letdown against Washington on Sunday. The Wizards beat the Heat for the first time in 17 games on Friday and Jackson said he watched them celebrate the big win before the Lakers played. Washington also beat Denver 120-91 earlier this week.

Shane Battier now has been on the wrong end of two 50-point games by Bryant, who had his old career-high of 56 against the Grizzlies back in January 2002. I actually was impressed with how effective Battier was in getting a hand in Bryant’s face to mess with his line of vision. Of course, Bryant still had 53.

They’re still updating the Daily News site, but you can check back at www.dailynews.com/sports in the morning and my game story should be posted.

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