Monday , Mar , 17 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Kobe Bryant Carrying Team with Big Men Missing

The basketball gods brought Kobe Bryant a blossoming Andrew Bynum, then took him away. Pau Gasol fell into Bryant’s lap, but Gasol has now fallen by the wayside, too.

Until one or both return for the Lakers to chase an NBA championship, Bryant believes he can lift the heavy stuff again — as he has periodically while awaiting someone as big and good as Bynum or Gasol to join him. Bryant asked Coach Phil Jackson to let him play the entire game Sunday for the first time all season, gearing up to deliver a superhuman performance and halt the second-longest winning streak in NBA history.

But Bryant wasn’t super or even his normal human self, and the Houston Rockets pushed their streak to 22 games, beating the Lakers, 104-92. The Lakers surrendered sole possession of first place in the Western Conference to Houston after a 10-day hold on the lead. [O.C. Register]