A double-overtime trip


The Lakers won another game but might have lost another big man.

Pau Gasol is a little closer to returning, but Andrew Bynum was injured toward the end of the Lakers’ 103-102 overtime victory Wednesday over the Houston Rockets.

Bynum was fouled hard across his right arm while going up for a shot and sustained a sprained elbow with 24.7 seconds left in overtime. He will be re-evaluated today in Los Angeles.


“I can’t even lift my arm right now,” Bynum said. “They just took a shot at me. That’s that, I guess. It’s not that bad. It just takes a little while to heal up.”

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On the day that Gasol was cleared to resume basketball-related activities, the Lakers secured an overtime victory on the road for the second time in as many days, in no small part because of Kobe Bryant’s 41 points and Derek Fisher’s last-second steal.

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In an obvious discrepancy, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson seemed optimistic that Gasol could play against the Grizzlies, but Gasol said he was “far from playing” on Friday.

Bynum definitely looked hurt after getting fouled by Chuck Hayes while going up for a layup attempt with 24.7 seconds left in overtime. He immediately frowned and grabbed his arm but stayed on the court to shoot two free throws, making one before leaving the game.

Afterward, he could use only his left arm to pull a shirt and sweater over his head as he dressed in the locker room.

In the other corner, Bryant sat with ice packs on his knees and a handful of towels draped over his shoulders.

“I picked a bad time to be sick,” he said, still feeling the effects of a sore throat that took hold Tuesday morning. He played 48 minutes against Houston, making 15 of 30 shots and 11 of 15 free-throw attempts.

If Bryant was the thrust of the offense, Fisher had the defensive play of the game, stripping Trevor Ariza as the former Lakers forward drove to the basket in the final seconds of overtime and the Lakers ahead by one.

Fisher had one of his worst nights statistically -- no points, five missed shots, no rebounds and no assists in 34 minutes -- but he had a big steal.

“That’s why he’s out there,” Jackson said. “Fish is a scrappy player. He’s going to put his mark on a game one way or the other.”

Said Ariza: “It was a good play. If I would have gotten fouled, the referee would have blew the whistle.”

The game itself was entirely reminiscent of the undermanned Rockets taking the Lakers to a full seven games before falling in last season’s Western Conference semifinals.

This one had the added ingredient of Ariza playing against the Lakers and Ron Artest playing against the Rockets for the first time since they swapped spots on a busy July afternoon during free agency.

Artest and Ariza each had 15 points and traded three-pointers near the end of regulation, though Ariza missed 16 of 21 shots. Bynum had 17 points and 17 rebounds and got an earful from Jackson in the second quarter.

Jackson took a rare walk to the end of the bench to scold Bynum after the 22-year-old reacted angrily when pulled from the game by Jackson. Bynum later picked up a technical foul for complaining after a foul call, literally jumping up and down on the court.

Meanwhile, Gasol was cleared to begin practicing after an MRI exam showed only a strain, not a tear, in his right hamstring. A less-sophisticated sonogram revealed a possible tear a few days ago, but Gasol’s fears weren’t confirmed.

As the Lakers went back and forth with the Rockets, a Lakers fan yelled, “Pau Gasol, we need you.”

They might also need Bynum to hurry back too.