LOS ANGELES, Nov 16 – The NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers dropped their second straight game Sunday, a lackluster performance drawing a few boos from their demanding home fans.The Lakers were coming off a 105-79 thumping at Denver two nights earlier. But they couldn’t bounce back against Houston, falling 101-91.
Trevor Ariza, who played for Los Angeles last season before moving to Houston in the off-season, received his championship ring from the Lakers before the game.
Teammate Aaron Brooks said the Rockets were inspired by the championship bauble.
"That’s my first time seeing an NBA ring," said Brooks, whose career-high 33 points included five three-pointers. "It moved us and we played inspired basketball."
Australian David Andersen added a career-high 19 for the Rockets, who lost 103-102 at home in overtime in the first meeting of the season between the two teams earlier this month.
Lakers star Kobe Bryant scored 41 points in that game, but he had just 18 Sunday.
Bryant was slowed by a groin injury that he aggravated in the first quarter. He was originally hurt in a game against New Orleans a week ago.
"I’ve felt better," he said. "It’ll be all right. I’ve been nursing it, kind of playing through it."
The injury affects Bryant’s ability to run and change direction, but he wouldn’t pin a sub-par scoring night on it.
"You know I don’t make excuses," he said.
Help could be on the way soon for the Lakers. Coach Phil Jackson said center Pau Gasol, who has missed 10 games with a strained right hamstring, has gone five days without reporting soreness. Gasol did some light shooting Sunday before his usual rehabilitation work.