Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Steve Blake made the game-winning three- pointer with 18.8 seconds remaining, as the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers snuck past the Houston Rockets, 112-110, in the season opener for both teams.
The Lakers needed seven games to beat the Celtics in the NBA Finals last season. Prior to Tuesday's game, Los Angeles raised its 16th championship banner to the rafters and received its rings.
Blake, who spent last season with the Clippers and Trail Blazers, ended with 10 points off the bench for the Lakers, who got 29 points and 11 rebounds from Pau Gasol. Kobe Bryant tallied 27 points, seven assists, and five rebounds.
"A great way to start the season," Blake said. "In the third quarter we started playing defense. Shannon (Brown) made big shots. I think the bench did their job tonight."
Kevin Martin finished with 26 points in his Rockets debut. Aaron Brooks scored 24 points and dished out nine assists. Luis Scola had 18 points and 16 rebounds.
Yao Ming, who was playing in a meaningful game for the first time since breaking his foot against the Lakers in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals back in the 2008-09 campaign, chipped in with nine points and 11 boards.
The Rockets missed the playoffs for the first time in four years last season and added big man Brad Miller in the offseason. Miller had nine points and nine rebounds off the bench.
"We had a 10 or 12 point lead then we stopped moving the ball," Rockets head coach Rick Adelman said. "We made mental mistakes."
Trailing by six, 86-80, early in the fourth, the Lakers ripped off 12 consecutive points. Shannon Brown had five points during the burst that Blake capped with a free throw for a 92-86 lead with under eight minutes to play.
Martin's three-point play had Houston within one, 92-91, but Gasol made a free throw and Brown made a pair of three-pointers to give Los Angeles a 99-91 margin with 5 1/2 minutes to go.
Trailing 107-102, the Rockets scored six straight points to make things interesting. Miller made two free throws to give Houston a 108-107 lead with 53.9 ticks remaining.
The margin was the same following buckets from Gasol and Scola. Blake then drilled a key three-pointer to give the Lakers a 112-110 edge with 18.8 seconds to go.
Scola missed a layup at the opposite end of the floor. Replay was used to determine who knocked the ball out on the rebounds. The refs gave the ball to Houston following the review with 2.4 ticks left.
Brooks failed to get a good shot off under the basket with two Los Angeles players all over him.
The Rockets controlled the first half and took a 62-51 lead into the locker room.
Blake made back-to-back three-pointers at the end of the third to get Los Angeles within five, 82-77.
"We didn't play with the right tempo in the first half," said Lakers head coach Phil Jackson, a winner of 11 NBA titles as a coach. "The second half was a rally half for us. When Steve and Shannon came in it changed the game."
Los Angeles took three of four meetings with Houston last season and has won eight of the past nine matchups between the teams...The Lakers have won their last three season openers...Lakers center Andrew Bynum is still recovering from knee surgery...Houston turned the ball over 21 times, leading to 20 Los Angeles points.