HOUSTON - The Los Angeles Lakers have lost four straight for the first time since April 2007.
Their latest loss, a 109-99 defeat by the injury-depleted Houston Rockets on Wednesday night, prompted a reporter to ask Kobe Bryant if the Lakers have considered that they aren’t as good as they think they are.
“How do you know how good we think we are? We’re fine,” an obviously annoyed Bryant said. “Are we going to win a three-peat today? Probably not, but the (expletive) is not played today.”
Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson denied being concerned about his team.
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“Concern? It’s way too early in the season,” he said.
Kevin Martin scored 22 points, and Shane Battier added 11 of his 17 in the final three minutes for the Rockets.
The Lakers led by three before Battier made consecutive 3-pointers to put Houston on top 100-97 with about 21/2 minutes to play.
Bryant made two free throws before Battier hit a jump shot that caused the Lakers star to slump his shoulders and shake his head. Los Angeles was then called for a shot-clock violation, and Bryant missed a 3-pointer on the next trip down the court.
Battier was fouled by Derek Fisher on a 3-point attempt with 41.9 seconds remaining and hit all three free throws to make it 105-99. Houston made four free throws in the last few seconds to secure the win.
Gilbert talkin’ tampering? Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has reportedly enlisted a law firm to investigate the circumstances leading to LeBron James leaving Cleveland to sign with the Miami Heat this summer. Yahoo! Sports reported that Gilbert has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Midwestern law firm to investigate suspicions that the Heat broke NBA tampering rules while pursuing James, who left the Cavs after seven seasons to join fellow stars Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami. The report, citing anonymous league sources, says Gilbert plans to present NBA commissioner David Stern with a detailed case in the hope he’ll launch a tampering investigation.
Jazz mourning: The Utah Jazz observed a moment of silence before Wednesday’s home game against the Indiana Pacers for Sherry Black, mother-in-law of Jazz executive Greg Miller, who was found stabbed to death Tuesday at a book shop she owned with her husband.
Fastbreaks: Atlanta’s Joe Johnson needs arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow and will be sidelined four to six weeks. NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant missed Wednesday’s game against New Jersey with a sprained left knee. Nets point guard Devin Harris is going to miss the next two games after an MRI revealed a sprained left knee.