"It's against his nature," Bryant said. "He's very white swan. I need him to be more black swan."
Less Natalie Portman. More Mila Kunis. Gasol got the point just in time to help the Lakers avoid another embarrassing fall in their treacherous midseason dance.
Bryant scored 32 points, Gasol hit the go-ahead layup with 1:04 left in overtime and the Lakers bounced back from consecutive home defeats with a 114-106 victory over the Houston Rockets.
Gasol scored six of his 26 points in overtime and grabbed 16 rebounds, while Lamar Odom had 20 points and a season-high 20 rebounds in his return to the Lakers' starting lineup. The two-time defending NBA champions finished their first overtime of the season on a 10-2 run, barely holding off injury-depleted Houston after losing to Sacramento and Boston in the previous four days.
"It's good to have a game like this and get back on our feet," Bryant said. "I had no doubts we were going to do that [in overtime]."
With NBA-leading San Antonio visiting Staples Center on Thursday night, the Lakers still appear to be stuck in the biggest rut of their inconsistent season, losing four of their previous seven in discouraging fashion. That's why Bryant took Gasol aside recently, urging Gasol to assert himself offensively by demanding the ball and taking more shots.
Gasol has thoroughly embraced his role as Bryant's sidekick during three years with the Lakers, but he understands the wisdom of Bryant's "Black Swan" analogy.
"I've just got to be more aggressive," Gasol said. "I've got to be more involved. If I'm not, I can't contribute, can't live up to my potential."
Luis Scola hit a tying layup with 5.5 seconds left in regulation for the Rockets, who are 0-5 in overtime this season.
Kevin Martin scored 30 points while hitting four 3-pointers, and Scola added 24 points and 15 rebounds as Houston launched a season-high 38 3-point attempts in its third straight loss, making just 10 3-pointers on the third stop of a four-game road trip.
"We've got to be better at closing out overtime games and games in general, and not going to sleep in the middle of games," said Aaron Brooks, who scored 16 points. "There's a lot of tweaking we can do, but I'm not going to put it all on not being able to close out games."
Los Angeles nursed a small lead through most of the fourth quarter, but after Scola's layup with 53 seconds left trimmed Los Angeles' lead to two points, Bryant missed two shots around a clutch rebound by Odom. Brooks then found Scola unguarded beneath the Lakers' hoop for the tying score.
The Lakers got the ball to Odom on their final possession of regulation, but he simply held the ball before missing a long, off-balance jumper.
"We need to communicate," Odom said. "All of us have been playing basketball for so long, but we're not playing basketball the way it should be played. We're not communicating enough. ... We don't have any chatter out there. It's communication."
Odom fell two rebounds shy of his career high in another standout game in the absence of starting center Andrew Bynum, who sat out with a bone bruise in his left knee.
Houston went ahead 104-100 on Scola's jumper with 2:48 left in overtime, but Gasol scored four straight points to tie it. After Gasol's layup in traffic put the Lakers ahead 108-106, Scola missed a halfhearted hook shot and Bryant made a layup with 38 seconds left.
"Our margin of error is so small because we're a small team," said Houston forward Shane Battier, who had five points. "As you saw, the rebounding game is something that continues to hurt us, especially when it's tight. We were right there, played good defense and forced tough shots, but we have to maintain concentration and discipline and really get five guys rebounding for the entire game."
Houston has lost 12 of 18 overall.
Bynum missed his first game since developing soreness in his left knee during the loss to Boston. The 7-foot shot-blocker missed Los Angeles' first 24 games while recovering from offseason surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right knee.
Rockets F Jordan Hill apparently sprained his ankle during the first half after landing on another player's foot. Hill played just three minutes. Backup swingman Courtney Lee played with an apparent case of the flu. ... Jackson used rookies Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter for brief stretches, attempting to give a little rest to his depleted lineup. ... Fans near courtside included actors Paul Scheer and Dennis Haysbert and Bengals LB Keith Rivers.
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