Reporting from Houston —
It may not be crisis time for the Lakers. Or it just may be.
It all depends on the perspective.
But perhaps there is some level of concern on several fronts after the Lakers lost their fourth consecutive game, a 109-99 defeat to the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.
One concern has to be the health of center Pau Gasol, who came down with a sore left hamstring that limited his effectiveness and forced him to get treatment on it in the locker room at the end of the third quarter.
Gasol said his hamstring was sore Tuesday in the game against Memphis and that in Wednesday's game against the Rockets, "it didn't get loose at all, so I couldn't play the way I wanted to."
Gasol had just eight points on two-for-eight shooting, leading Lakers Coach Phil Jackson to lament: "He probably had the worst game of the season by far."
Last season, Gasol missed 11 games with a right hamstring strain and six more with a left hamstring strain.
This time, Gasol said he's "tired from fatigue."
He has been averaging 39.9 minutes this season.
Gasol played 38.38 minutes against the Rockets and 44:41 against Memphis.
"What's my concern? My concern is that it doesn't get better, or that it gets worse and it becomes a problem," Gasol said. "Then we'll really have a problem."
Another concern is all the losing by the Lakers.
It was the first time they had lost four consecutive games since April 2007.
It was the 11th time a Jackson team has lost that many. And for what it's worth, none of Jackson's 11 championship teams ever lost more than three consecutive games.
"Whatever we're going through, it's probably good for us," said Lamar Odom, who had a season-high 25 points and 11 rebounds. "It humbles you. We're down to earth and understand that we can lose games if we don't play basketball the right way and do all the little things we need to do as a group collectively.
"These last couple of years we've seemed to be able to win games by doing things the wrong way. Being humbled is good. It's good to use life lessons in life. We hope we can learn from it."
Learning to play defense would be a start.
The Rockets shot 50.6% from the field, 60% in the fourth quarter.
Kevin Martin had 20 of his 22 points in the second half.
Shane Battier had 11 of his 17 in the fourth. He scored 11 consecutive points in the fourth on back-to-back three-pointers, a 19-foot jumper and three free throws after he was fouled by Derek Fisher shooting a three-pointer.
The Lakers missed their last seven shots.
They got to within 100-99 on two free throws by Kobe Bryant, who had 27 points, but never scored again.
The board in the Lakers' locker room had this note written on it: "13-39 second half. 33%." That's what the Lakers shot in the second half.
They were worse in the fourth, making 22.7% of their shots, and 10%, going one for 10, of their three-pointers.
So are the back-to-back NBA champions in a crisis mode?
Not in their eyes.
"We're fine," Bryant said. "Are we going to win a three-peat today? Probably not, because [it's] not played today."