T-Mac Lifts Rockets to Win Over Lakers

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Shane Battier made a tie breaking 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left, and the Houston Rockets withstood a furious rally from Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in a 95-93 victory on Tuesday night.

Bryant scored 45 points, 18 in the fourth quarter, in a comeback that fell just short.

Tracy McGrady scored 30 points, Yao Ming had 25 points and 12 rebounds, and the Rockets made Rick Adelman's debut as their coach a success.

The Lakers trailed 77-63 with 7:58 to play, but came back to tie it 92 with a 13-0 run capped by Derek Fisher's 3-pointer with 14 seconds left.

After Battier answered with his 3, the Lakers called timeout and inbounded the ball with 1.3 seconds showing. Bryant was fouled immediately and made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second.

The rebound came back to him, but the ball was knocked out of his hands as time expired.

Mike James added 13 points for the Rockets.

Fisher, who rejoined the team this summer, scored 17. He and Bryant were the only Lakers in double figures.

Bryant was 13-of-32 from the field and 18-of-27 from the line. The Lakers missed 18 of their 45 free throws.

The Lakers' loss in the season opener came after an offseason of discontent, mostly Bryant's.

He, coach Phil Jackson and owner Jerry Buss all spoke out during the offseason discord. Bryant called the front office a mess and asked to be dealt, although he later seemed to soften his stance.

When things quieted down in training camp, Buss stirred them up again by saying he would listen to trade offers for Bryant.

Then as the Lakers were wrapping up the exhibition season, Jackson said he felt Bryant "hasn't thrown his heart and soul into performing on the floor."

The Rockets had a busy offseason of a different sort, with Adelman's replacing Jeff Van Gundy just one of a number of changes. They added point guards James and Steve Francis, and power forward Luis Scola of Argentina, with that trio figuring to fit well in Adelman's up-tempo offense.

Bryant, wearing a sleeve on his right arm to keep his injured wrist from stiffening up, as usual made a number of spectacular plays in the loss. In the first quarter, he drove, scooped the ball left-handed under Yao's arms, off the glass and into the hoop.

Bryant also did some playmaking, including a drive when he dropped the ball off to the trailing Ronny Turiaf and Turiaf dunked to bring a roar from the sellout crowd of 18,997.

Bryant scored 53 points in two games against the Rockets in Los Angeles last season, and 37.3 points against them overall as the teams split the season series 2-2.

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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