Houston (9-13) at Los Angeles (13-10)

Cloudy Currently: Los Angeles, CA
Temp: 70° F
  • Game info: 9:30 pm EST Sun Dec 18, 2005
  • TV: NBATV
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Playing at home has yet to benefit the Los Angeles Lakers this season.

It’s a trend they are looking to change as they play the second of a three-game homestand against the visiting Houston Rockets.

The Lakers improved to just 5-5 at Staples Center with a 97-91 win Friday over the Washington Wizards, building on the momentum of the their just-completed 5-1 road swing.

“Played well on the road, now it’s time to do the same thing at home,” said Kobe Bryant, who finished with a game-high 41 points on 14-for-24 shooting

The Lakers have won six of their last seven, partly because Bryant is shooting better and getting other players involved. He shot 42.4 percent and averaged 4.1 assists in his first 15 games as the Lakers went 6-9, but Bryant has shot 48.1 percent and averaged 4.9 assists in the last seven games.

Los Angeles, which is trying to win a season-high third straight home game, took a step forward towards reclaiming its homecourt with Friday’s win. The Lakers were 22-19 at home last season, their worst mark since going 21-20 in the 1993-94 season.

“I hope so,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “We’ve got a measure in front of us that we have to step up to and try to regain some kind of composure and some kind of home-court advantage.”

Houston, still trying to overcome its sluggish 4-12 start to the season, had their five-game winning streak snapped by the Staples Center’s co-tenant, the Los Angeles Clippers, 89-81 on Saturday.

Houston lost for just the second time in eight games since two-time NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady returned from a sprained back that sidelined him for eight games—all losses.

McGrady, coming off a 34-point game at Seattle, finished with 29—but only scored four in the second half—against the Clippers after making 10 of his first 14 shots.

“They did a good job on him, but they committed extra defenders on him,” Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. “Obviously we’re struggling right now with our perimeter shooting, and we didn’t make them pay as much as we’d hoped to for their committing multiple defenders to McGrady. So we’ve got to do that a little bit better.”

McGrady admitted he was tired because of the Rockets’ grueling six-game road trip, which ends Sunday against the Lakers as they play their fourth game in five days.

“I wasn’t hurt or anything—just fatigue,” McGrady said. “I just really felt this trip in that second half. I felt a little sluggish in the first half, but in the second, it really jumped on me. I just didn’t have any energy, any lift in my jumper, or explosiveness going to the basket. I was running in mud.”

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