The Houston Rockets played without starting guards Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry, but the Lakers were also short-handed.
They played without common sense.
Andrew Bynum picked up an ill-timed ejection late in the third quarter and the Lakers disintegrated with stunning speed in the final minutes of a 107-104 loss Tuesday to the Rockets at Toyota Center.
What started off so well for the Lakers 40 points in the first quarter ended in a hail of red streamers, messy defense and a hole down low where Bynum had played so capably. He was ejected with 1:10 left in the third quarter while awaiting a free-throw attempt by Marcus Camby, picking up his second technical foul for expressing dissatisfaction with the refereeing.
He kept smiling as he high-fived teammates on the bench and a handful of fans in courtside seats before walking slowly across the court to the locker room. He finished with 16 points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes.
“I’ll answer all questions tomorrow,” he said to reporters as he towed a roller bag to the team bus, looking straight ahead.
Bynum picked up his first technical foul while complaining after a non-call with 7:34 left in the first quarter. The Lakers actually went on a run without him, even taking a 97-88 lead on Pau Gasol’s jump shot with 5:01 to play. Then the Rockets went on a 12-0 run and never trailed again.
“I was irritated. We need Bynum on the floor,” Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. “Nobody can put themselves in jeopardy to get themselves removed from the ballgame.”
As for Bynum’s exaggerated manner in leaving the court “The league will take care of that,” Brown said. “If he wants to do that, that’s on him. I have no problem with it.”