The first elbow upset him, but all Pau Gasol did was look toward the referees for help. The second elbow that immediately followed angered him, but this time Gasol stood up for himself.
Gasol got in the face of Houston's Carl Landry, stared him down and exchanged words, letting the physical forward know he wasn't going to be pushed around.
From that point on late in the second quarter Sunday night, Gasol refused to back down to Landry and he became a force for the Lakers.
Gasol scored all eight of his second-quarter points after Landry's elbow smacked him in the face.
That was the spark Gasol seem to need.
"At least as far as my aggressiveness," Gasol said. "I think it really raised my level when I got hit a couple of times in my face. That kind of got me going a little bit inside, because I wasn't being very sharp. It was a good wake-up call."
Gasol finished with a double-double, collecting 20 points and 15 rebounds. So, getting elbowed pushed Gasol.
"I mentioned that to one of my coaches," Coach Phil Jackson said. "I think that woke up Pau."
Gasol has been the Lakers' best rebounder this season, averaging a team-high 11.6 rebounds per game.
"I'm just trying to be aggressive on the boards," Gasol said. "I think being at the power forward gives me a better chance to attack the rebounds from a little farther out, so it gives you a better chance at positioning out there."
Trevor Ariza came flying in from out near the free-throw line, doing what he could to keep the ball alive early in the second quarter against Houston.
That led to two free throws for Ariza.
Ariza snaked his way between two defenders and grabbed the offensive rebound.
That led to a basket for Kobe Bryant.
Jackson said he likes Ariza's off-ball activity, his ability to get in the lane to get to passes and tip balls.
"He's like a ghost out there," Jackson said. "Like a shadow. Just all of a sudden he shows on a screen and he's gone. He's a blip and he's away. He runs the court like that. He's a stealth player more than you'd say a person that infuses the team with energy. But his presence is certainly felt."
The Lakers have so much depth that it bothers Jackson that he can't give all 12 active players playing time every game.
All of the Lakers played against the Rockets because it was a blowout.
"We have a problem here because we almost have an abundance of talent, particularly at one position," said Jackson, referring to small forward. "We're searching to find playing time for players. That's a concern for me personally, but it's nice as a coach to have that when the talent is at a level in which you can just take the subtleties of people's game and apply them to a situation on the floor."