Robert Sacre started at center for the Lakers on Tuesday because Dwight… (Pat Sullivan / Associated…)
HOUSTON — Amid the ominous clouds and torrential look of the Lakers' season emerged a feel-good story.
Robert Sacre was anything but Mr. Irrelevant.
The last player taken in the 2012 NBA draft started at center and didn't embarrass himself with 10 points, three rebounds and four blocked shots in the Lakers' 125-112 loss Tuesday to the Houston Rockets.
A day earlier, he played a game with the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Lakers' Development League affiliate. It was in Reno, so he missed the Lakers' charter flight to Houston on Monday afternoon and caught up with the team on a commercial flight.
Yes, he flew first-class.
The Lakers recalled him after Dwight Howard (shoulder), Pau Gasol (concussion) and Jordan Hill (hip) were all deemed out for a two-game trip.
How busy has Sacre been the last few days? The Canadian had to be told by reporters the hockey lockout was over.
"It is? See, I've been in Reno. They don't have hockey," he said by way of explanation.
Sacre was averaging half a point and eight-tenths of a rebound before Tuesday in 13 appearances with the Lakers.
He had some sharp plays against Houston, including an off-balance seven-foot jump shot after running into Rockets center Omer Asik.
He made only four of 10 shots and became fatigued in the second half but continued his already solid week.
Contracts for second-round picks do not become guaranteed until Thursday, but the Lakers said they would keep him for $473,604 this season. They now hold an option on him next season for $988,872.
Sacre said he "felt pretty confident" he would make the team.
"Obviously in the back of my mind, you're always thinking, 'What if, What if?'" he said. "But I think I worked hard enough that I felt comfortable with it."
Gasol still felt some effects of a concussion and was not medically cleared Tuesday to resume basketball-related activities after visiting neurologist Vern Williams in Los Angeles.
He will be reevaluated Thursday and the next game he can play is Friday against Oklahoma City.
Gasol was injured when Denver center JaVale McGee accidentally elbowed him in the nose Sunday.