Lakers’ loss a tale of woe and ejection
Not that long ago, Phil Jackson wished he could stay in the locker room at halftime to watch “A Christmas Carol” as the Lakers slapsticked their way to a one-sided loss in Miami.
His holiday wish arrived a little late with his ejection from the Lakers’ 102-77 lopsided loss Wednesday to the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.
He didn’t watch any movies and he had to coach past halftime, but he was joined a bit later by Kobe Bryant, who limped to the locker room with 3:33 to play because of a minor left groin strain. He suffered the injury toward the end of the second quarter, played the entire third quarter and almost half of the fourth, and finished with 20 points and six assists.
He did not shoot well, making only six of 18 attempts as the Lakers lost consecutive games for only the third time this season.
Bryant said he expected to play Friday against Orlando, leaving the main headline to Jackson, who is ejected only once or twice a decade, if and when his Zen allows it to happen.
With 15.3 seconds left in the third quarter, Jackson was hit with two technical fouls, the first for arguing that Luke Walton should have gone to the free-throw line after being hit by Houston center Dikembe Mutombo on a layup attempt. Jackson then walked onto the court and leaned down into the face of referee Tony Brothers for a quick follow-up chat, making his early exit official.
The last time he had been thrown out of a game was May 21, 2001, when the Lakers took a 2-0 series lead against San Antonio in the Western Conference finals.
Jackson, who chuckled in an “I-told-these-guys-this-could-happen” way after losing to Memphis on Tuesday, was less amused after falling to the Rockets.
“It was one of those situations when one of our guys drove to the basket and got knocked into the first row of seats,” Jackson said. “I really don’t want to talk about it. It’s not worth it.”
There will be some talking points if the Lakers lose Friday at home against Orlando. They have not lost three consecutive games this season, and they probably won’t have a fully sound Bryant against Orlando.
Bryant felt a tweak after getting an outlet pass toward the end of the second quarter.
“I started accelerating and I just pulled it,” he said. “I should be fine to play. It just takes some adjusting to. We’ll just treat it around the clock like we normally do. Hopefully, it will be closer to 100% than it is now.”
Bryant probably will play, and Jackson probably won’t be ejected Friday.
“I was surprised,” Bryant said. “I’m sure all you guys were surprised too. I mean, it just doesn’t happen too often. I can’t even remember the last time he got ejected.”
Neither Jackson nor Bryant was thrilled with what happened in the third quarter.
The Lakers didn’t give up an embarrassing 46 points as they did in Memphis, but they let the Rockets turn a one-point halftime edge into a 72-58 lead by the time it ended.
“Teams have really busted us in the third quarter,” Bryant said. “If we can kind of solve that mystery and play at least half the quarter decently, we’ll be OK.”
The quarter, won by the Rockets, 25-12, was dripping with a numbingly poor Lakers offense and a touch of irony.
As the Lakers closed in on a four-for-22 shooting effort in the quarter, Mutombo moved past Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for second in league history with his 3,190th blocked shot. He did it by blocking Andrew Bynum’s shot and emphatically wagging a finger. Bynum, of course, is Abdul-Jabbar’s protege.
“I don’t care,” Bynum said of Mutombo’s antics. “I block shots too. I had a couple of blocked shots, but I didn’t wave my finger. That’s his thing.”
The Rockets were without Yao Ming, and Tracy McGrady scored only eight points.
Their mascot, apparently some sort of rodent-bear combination, held up a sign in the fourth quarter that read “Beat L.A.”
It wasn’t tough to do Wednesday.