Coming off their second loss of the month, the Los Angeles Lakers traveled to Toyota Center in the second of a three-game road trip against the Houston Rockets. On March 11, 2009, the two teams squared off in what would be a preview of the Western Conference semifinals.
The first quarter was a tightly-contested battle, as the Lakers and Rockets traded baskets and found themselves tied at 24 after the first 12 minutes of play.
Houston’s reserves would take control of the second quarter and outscore Los Angeles by 11 points — entering halftime with a lead of the same margin.
The Lakers answered back with an impressive third quarter, led by Kobe Bryant, who took control of the offense with 13 points. With that effort, Los Angeles trailed by only three entering the final period. As was the case in the third, Bryant’s hot hand helped erase the deficit.
He scored 19 points in the fourth quarter, ultimately propelling the Lakers to a 102-96 victory. It was the first of three consecutive wins for L.A., who continued separating themselves in the standings.
All-in-all, Bryant had a game-high 37 points and +15 plus-minus. He added four steals and two blocks on the defensive end in just under 40 minutes of playing time.
Pau Gasol stuffed the stat sheet as well, scoring 20 points while accumulating five rebounds, four steals and one block in just over 42 minutes on the court. Josh Powell was the only other Lakers player to reach double-digits, scoring 17 points.
Von Wafer contributed a team-high 20 points for the Rockets off the bench, tallying three steals and one block in just under 28 minutes.
Luis Scola was one rebound shy of a double-double with 15 points, while Yao Ming dominated the paint with 16 points, six rebounds and two blocks.
For the Lakers, the win improved their record to a Western Conference-best 51-13. The Rockets fell to 42-24 on the year but maintained a spot in the playoff picture.