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(Wednesday, April 17th)
Final Score: LA Lakers 99, Houston 95 (OT)
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - It sure wasn't the "Big Three" the Los Angeles Lakers had hoped for at the start of the season.
The Lakers knew of their postseason fate before they took the floor Wednesday, but that didn't stop Steve Blake from again making the most out of his opportunity.
And Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol's size and power inside were too much for the Houston Rockets to handle.
With Kobe Bryant resting comfortably at his home, his Lakers picked up a 99-95 overtime win over the Rockets to earn the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
"From where we were 20-30 games ago, the No. 7 seed is pretty good," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We should have been in that spot in the first place, it's our fault."
The Utah Jazz's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies earlier Wednesday assured the Lakers of a postseason bid.
Gasol tallied a triple-double with 17 points, 20 rebounds and 11 assists, Blake led the Lakers in scoring for a second straight contest with a season- high 24 points, and Howard added 16 points and 18 boards for Los Angeles (45-37), which has won five straight to close the regular season and will play the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. The first game of that best-of-seven series will begin Sunday at 3:30 p.m. (et).
It was the second game the Lakers played without Bryant after he tore his Achilles tendon in Friday's win over the Golden State Warriors.
Chandler Parsons, who had 23 points, sent the game into overtime with a 3- pointer from the L of the Lakers' midcourt logo.
James Harden netted 30 points the Rockets (45-37), who will clash with the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round. The opener of that set starts Sunday at 9:30 p.m. (et).
"If we don't play with pace, their two big guys will just control the game after a while," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said.
Blake's straightaway 3-pointer with 6:36 remaining in regulation gave Los Angeles an 81-79 advantage, its first lead since the final minute of the opening quarter.
Later in the stanza, Harden went high off the glass on a driving layup to pull Houston within 88-87. Following a Lakers shot-clock violation, Jeremy Lin missed a long left wing triple with the shot clock running down. Jodie Meeks proceeded to make two free throws to up the margin to 90-87 with 16.7 left in the frame.
Shenanigans ensued at the other end.
Following a mad scramble for the ball, Lin corralled it and found Parsons for the long three to send the contest into an extra session.
In the extra frame, Gasol's turnaround jumper from just beyond the foul line with 2:26 to go gave LA a 92-91 edge and ended a 7:08 Lakers field-goal drought going back to the fourth.
Howard's hook in the paint on the Lakers' next touch pushed the cushion to four before Harden and Meeks traded baskets to make it 96-93.
Harden missed a triple and following a Greg Smith offensive rebound, he was blocked by Howard on a layup attempt and Meeks split a pair of foul shots to give the hosts a 97-93 lead with 14.5 ticks to play.
Harden made two free throws at the other end, but Blake answered with two foul shots to seal the win with 10.5 seconds left.
Houston led 24-21 after a quarter of play and 50-44 at the break. The Rockets built their advantage up to 11 in the third before taking a 71-66 edge into the fourth.
Bryant was tweeting from his home throughout the game ... The Lakers held a 24-7 edge in second-chance points ... Blake's 47 points in consecutive games is the most he's scored over a two-game span.
04/18 02:56:28 ET
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