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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Impressive performance against Houston Rockets

Kobe Bryant proved that he is at the top of his career as he scored 53 points in 54 minutes. This way, the Lakers pulled out a 112-101 double-overtime victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.

Los Angeles Lakers started with a nightmarish 10-point first quarter and finished both regulation and the first overtime with Bryant missing potential winning jumpers.

However, Kobe Bryant opened the second overtime still with the hops to shimmy-shake Yao Ming then execute a twisting dunk.

In fact, the Lakers' star scored seven points to Houston's two in the second overtime. And when the Rockets missed its final shot, it was Bryant soaring above everyone to own the rebound.

"We really had to go to Kobe tonight to get accomplished what we had to do to get a win," said Lakers boss Phil Jackson, who as early as the start of the second quarter moved Bryant to the scoring wing spot and ditched the triangle offense before halftime to run repeated pick-and-rolls for Kobe.

And Bryant expressed: "That confirmed for me that my legs are back to be able to dunk like that in the second overtime. You're happy but tired after a game like that. It might be funny, but even when we were down 20, I felt the game was ours."

It's important to notice that Bryant's efforts more than offset the best effort of Yao, who had 35 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high eight blocks in 49 minutes.

However, Yao Ming saw his last shot of the game in the second overtime cleanly blocked by Lakers center Kwame Brown.

The Rockets definitely tired after halftime, when they led by 18 points. They had played to the wire in Oakland the night before, losing on a Baron Davis three-pointer with 1.2 seconds left against Golden State.

The chinese player has been notorious for his poor conditioning in his career, but has improved it.

Both Yao and Bryant found the strength to hit key shots late in the first overtime. However, whereas Yao ruled the game right from the start - blocking Vladimir Radmanovic's layup just moments after tipoff - Bryant had the greater perseverance.

"At some point," Jackson admitted, "he's going to find a way."

We must consider that Bryant shot 17 of 38 from the field, 5 of 8 from three-point range and 14 of 16 from the foul line. He also had 10 rebounds, eight assists and five turnovers. It was awesome.