Kobe Bryant scored 27 points, newcomer Steve Blake hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 18.8 seconds left, and the Los Angeles Lakers opened defense of their back-to-back NBA titles with a 112-110 victory over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night.
Pau Gasol had 29 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who hung the golden banner celebrating their 16th NBA championship and handed out their impossibly gaudy rings in a heartfelt pregame ceremony.
The champs then fell behind by 15 points before rallying for a fourth-quarter lead behind Shannon Brown’s 3-point barrage.
The clubs traded the lead four times in the final minute, but Houston’s Luis Scola missed a difficult scoop shot with 3 seconds left, and Aaron Brooks’ layup attempt at the buzzer apparently was blocked by Lamar Odom. — AP