Kobe, Lakers begin Texas tour with Rockets

Kobe Bryant will try to regain his shooting touch when he leads the Los Angeles Lakers on a tour through Texas, starting with tonight's matchup with the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.

Bryant shot just 3-for-20 from the floor for 15 points in Sunday's 103-99 loss to the Utah Jazz.

"You have nights like that every now and then," Bryant said on the Lakers' website. "I couldn't make a shot. ... You try to just hang in there, get some stops down the stretch and try to muck up the game."

It was one of Bryant's worst shooting performances and he went 2-for-16 for 11 points in a loss to the Grizzlies on Dec. 20, 2004.

Andrew Bynum did his part with a game-high 33 points and 11 rebounds against the Jazz, while Pau Gasol delivered a double-double of his own with 18 points and 10 boards. Matt Barnes and Ramon Sessions finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively, in a losing effort. The Lakers had won five in a row and 10 straight at home, and committed 24 turnovers for 22 Utah points.

Los Angeles will play Houston and Dallas on consecutive nights and is 9-14 away from Hollywood, as opposed to a 19-3 mark as the host. The Lakers, who have won three in a row as the visitor, are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Clippers for the Pacific Division lead and seeded third in the Western Conference. They own a 20-8 record in conference play

Lakers forward Metta World Peace (hip) is questionable for Tuesday. He exited Sunday's game in the third quarter and never returned, scoring three points.

Houston hopes Bryant stays off his game for the foreseeable future when it begins a four-game homestand tonight versus the Lakers, Warriors, Mavericks and Kings. It is 16-6 at home this season (8-16 on the road).

The Rockets have dropped two in a row and eight of 11 games, including Sunday's 99-86 loss at Phoenix in the conclusion of a quick road trip. Luis Scola scored 18 points and Goran Dragic added 16 for Houston, which is just a half-game ahead of the Suns and Jazz for the final postseason spot in the Western Conference.

"We didn't have good rhythm to start off the game," said Houston coach Kevin McHale. "We got ourselves in a hole and were never able to dig out of it."

Patrick Patterson had 13 points, Samuel Dalembert added 12 and Chase Budinger netted 11 points in a losing effort. The Rockets shot 42.7 percent and committed 16 turnovers for 20 Phoenix points. They acquired veteran point guard Derek Fisher from the Lakers before the trade deadline, but Fisher never reported to the Rockets and eventually reached a buyout agreement.

Marcus Camby was acquired from Portland and posted eight points and eight rebounds in his Houston debut.

Rockets leading scorer Kevin Martin missed his fourth straight game because of a shoulder injury and is questionable for Tuesday. He is averaging 17.1 ppg. Kyle Lowry is still sidelined due to a bacterial infection. Dragic has taken over the point while Lowry rests.

Houston dropped a 108-99 decision against the Lakers on Jan. 3 this season at Staples Center and the two teams will meet again April 6 in Hollywood. Bryant poured in a game-high 37 points in the first meeting. The Lakers have won 11 of the past 14 matchups in this series and are 10-5 in the past 15 trips to Space City.

In 49 career games (44 starts) versus Houston, Bryant is averaging 26.8 ppg.