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Lakers Survive Ariza Bowl I

Damn, girl! I need a cigarette after that one.

For three quarters the Los Angeles Lakers dragged ass through the tail end of a road back-to-back, looking every bit as sluggish and heavy-legged as you'd expect. Having played overtime last night and with Pau Gasol still in business attire, a fourth-quarter fade to a frisky Houston Rockets team seemed likely. The Rockets looked fresher and springier and were repeatedly finding their way to loose balls. A Laker loss would have been frustrating, and yet understandable under the circumstances.

But after resting the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, during which the Rockets worked over the Laker reserves to build a seven-point lead, Kobe Bryant checked back into the game and dragged the Lakers into Playoff Mode. He scored 10 of the Lakers' 19 points in the fourth period while being guarded by longtime foe Shane Battier. Kobe's feed to Ron Artest for a three with 30 seconds appeared likely to cement the comeback, but Trevor Ariza, facing his former employer for the first time, answered with his own triple on the Rockets' last possession to send the game to OT.

Yeah, it was that kinda game.

Nothing was easy or especially pretty for the Lakers in the extra stanza. Aaron Brooks and - yes, you're reading this correctly - Chuck Hayes worked the drive-and-dish to keep Houston in it. But Andrew Bynum made three of four late free-throw attempts to give the Lakers a one point lead. Attempting to drive the lane with less than 10 seconds to play, Ariza got stripped by Derek Fisher to seal the Laker win.

This game gives us oodles to talk over, so have at it below. Your Lakers are now 34-1.

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