It’s Houston

The Lakers learned the identity of their second-opponent tonight, and it’s the Houston Rockets, who defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, 92-76, in Game 6 and took the series, 4-2. Ron Artest scored 27 points and Yao Ming had 17 points and 10 rebounds to help the Rockets win a playoff series for the first time since 1997. Both will be key figures in the next round for the Rockets. The Lakers beat the Rockets, 4-0, in the regular season.

Here’s the schedule (times are PDT):

Game 1, Monday at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT.
Game 2, Wednesday at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT.
Game 3, May 8 at Houston, 6:30 p.m., ESPN.
Game 4, May 10 at Houston, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7.
Game 5, if necessary, May 12 at Staples Center, TBA, TNT.
Game 6, if necessary, May 14 at Houston, TBA, ESPN.
Game 7, if necessary, May 16 at Staples Center, TBA, TBA.

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Another quiet afternoon

The Lakers insisted they are not bored while awaiting the next round of the playoffs to start. They said today that rest and recovery were a good deal after a rough-and-tumble first-round victory over the Utah Jazz. They said it was never bad to have a couple of extra days to refine a few things before beginning the second round on Monday. Besides, the Lakers hope to learn the identity of their next opponent later tonight. (The Houston Rockets led the Portland Trail Blazers, 3-2, going into Game 6). They also hope to learn the schedule for the next round. All we know is that Games 1 and 2 are Monday and Wednesday at Staples Center. The rest is a mystery. If the Trail Blazers defeat the Rockets to force Game 7, then all will be known to the Lakers and their fans late Saturday night.

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Kareem on Andrew

Pretty quiet day around Lakersland today. No formal practice, but a few players came in to work out and play 3-on-3. Andrew Bynum was one of them. He has a lot to work on after a disappointing showing in the Lakers’ opening-round playoff win over the Utah Jazz. Here’s assistant coach and Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Bynum:

“Andrew wants to excel, so he’s looking to dominate the game. Sometimes you have to be patient and allow that part of the game to happen. He’s figuring it out. I’m sure by the end of the playoffs, people won’t be talking about these issues.

“He’s very good at making adjustments. He saw that he didn’t play well and Lamar’s been doing a great job starting. It’s not like (Bynum) took a big step backwards. He had a few things he had to adjust to, and I think he’s seeing what that entails.”

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Phil’s surprise

Leave it to Lakers coach Phil Jackson to cause a stir after his team eliminated the Utah Jazz tonight and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Jackson said he would start center Andrew Bynum in the next round against the winner of the Houston-Portland series and return Lamar Odom to a reserve role. Bynum was a non-factor in the Utah series, but Jackson believes the Lakers will need his 7-foot height against either Houston’s 7-6 center Yao Ming or Portland’s 7-1 center Joel Przybilla. Odom was a huge factor in the series, but particularly in Game 5 tonight. He had 26 points and a team-leading 15 rebounds. Bynum had two points and five rebounds tonight.

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Fisher statement on restraining order

Here’s a bit of updated information on the Derek Fisher situation, which broke right before tipoff of tonight’s game.

I just spoke with his publicist, who relayed the following statement from Derek Fisher:

“This is a law enforcement matter and I will not be making any comment at this time. We appreciate your understanding and respect for the seriousness of the situation.”

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Halftime: Lakers 56, Jazz 43

The Lakers are a half away from advancing to the second round. They were steady if not spectacular in the opening half, leading by as many as 14 points. Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom scored 16 points apiece to lead the Lakers in Game 5. Odom also had a team-leading eight rebounds for the Lakers, who hold a 3-1 series lead and showed no desire to return to Utah for Game 6 on Thursday. Andrei Kirilenko had 12 points for Utah.

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Fisher seeks restraining order

Here are the details, via a story from The Associated Press:

Derek Fisher is seeking a temporary restraining order against a woman who he says is stalking and harassing him. The Lakers guard, who is playing in Game 5 of the NBA playoffs against Utah, filed the paperwork with the Los Angeles County Superior Court earlier Monday.

He claims that the woman, Symone Fisher — no relation — has been harassing him since 2001 but that the situation has gotten worse over the past few months. Fisher claims that the woman has been showing up at his place of work and at his private residence.

In the restraining order, he also asked for protection for his wife, Candace, and four children. A Los Angeles County detective investigating the case recommended that Fisher get a restraining order after looking into a number of unsolicited e-mails, internet messages and letters sent from Symone Fisher suggesting that the two were married.

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Walton out indefinitely

Luke Walton will be sidelined indefinitely after suffering a partially torn ligament in his left ankle in Game 4 on Saturday night, the Lakers announced today. Walton underwent an MRI exam this morning, which revealed the extent of the injury. Walton’s condition will be re-evaluated in about one week.

Meanwhile, Lakers coach Phil Jackson told our Ramona Shelburne that Trevor Ariza will play tonight in Game 5 despite suffering from a sprained right ankle. Either shooting guard Kobe Bryant or power forward Lamar Odom will serve as Ariza’s backup at small forward, Jackson said.

“I think Trevor will be able to go tonight, but Luke is out indefinitely and we’ll have to wait and see what’s going to happen with that,” Jackson said this morning. “I think (Walton) was instrumental in helping us win that Game 4. … Trevor didn’t complain about it at all. But when I watched him shoot a little bit, I was seeing if he would favor it or not. He caught me looking at him, smiled and said, ‘I’ll be all right.’ So I think he’s going to be fine.”

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Winter update

Tex Winter, the Lakers’ special consultant and inventor of the triangle offense, remained hospitalized in Manhattan, Kan., today after suffering an apparent stroke Saturday. “They said just said he’s OK as far as resting and some of hisfaculties are coming back and he’s improving,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said when asked for an update on Winter, 87.Jackson also said Winter has had some difficulty moving the right side of his body and his speech hasn’t returned to normal, two typical aftereffects of a stroke.

Winter and Jackson began their association with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. They won six NBA championships with Michael Jordan leading the way on the floor. They were reunited when Jackson became the Lakers’ coach in 1999. They won three more titles with the Lakers to start this decade. Winter lives in Oregon, but visits the team periodically to offer counsel and criticism. Jackson said Saturday that Winter often refers to himself as an “insultant” rather than a consultant.

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