LOS ANGELES - The Houston Rockets got back to winning despite not playing close to their best.
They were a lot more impressive than the slumping Los Angeles Lakers, who probably left former coach Phil Jackson shaking his head.
Tracy McGrady had 27 points and seven assists, five teammates scored in double figures, and the Rockets beat the Lakers 114-100 on Thursday night with Jackson among those in attendance.
The Rockets snapped a three-game losing streak and handed Los Angeles its fifth straight loss and 13th in 14 games — something that’s never happened to the proud franchise.
The Lakers (33-42) are assured of their first losing record since they went 33-49 in 1993-94, when they lost a franchise-record 10 straight to finish the season.
This year and that season are the only times they’ve failed to qualify for the playoffs since 1976.
“Great,” was Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy’s initial response when told that Jackson attended the game.
“He had an unbelievable run here,” Van Gundy said. “He’ll be wanted. I know that, obviously. He’s a great, great coach.”
Jackson watched from owner Jerry Buss’ luxury suite. Jackson hadn’t seen the Lakers play in person since last June, when he coached them in the NBA Finals. Shortly thereafter, the decision was made that he wouldn’t return this season.
It’s been speculated since Rudy Tomjanovich resigned as coach on Feb. 2 that Jackson would come back to the team he guided to championships in his first three seasons. But Jackson’s agent has said his client wouldn’t discuss a coaching job with anyone until after the season.
Jackson’s name has come up as a possible candidate for several teams including the Lakers, New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves.
“It’s just a social visit,” Lakers spokesman John Black said of Jackson’s visit. “Dr. Buss had invited him several months ago to come to a game and sit in his suite with him. Phil’s been traveling a lot; this was the first opportunity that Phil was in town when we had a home game.”
PBT: San Antonio found what worked and it’s on the Grizzlies to raise their level enough in Game 2 in San Antonio on Tuesday to get a split in the series.
PBT: Kevin Durant and other Thunder stars are sending their support to victims of the Oklahoma tornado.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
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