This Day in Laker History: December 15th

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Now with basketball back in action, Laker Nation has decided to continue to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise.

DECEMBER 15, 2006
HOUSTON ROCKETS 101 – LA LAKERS 112
BRYANT SCORES 53 AS LAKERS RALLY FROM 21 DOWN TO OVERCOME ROCKETS IN DOUBLE OVERTIME

In a battle between two middle-of-the-pack Western Conference teams, each lacking injured stars on either side, few would have expected the scoring and defensive exhibition that took place when the Rockets and Lakers took court five years ago, let alone one that would stretch into double overtime.

Without Laker forward Lamar Odom or Rockets guard Tracy McGrady playing dues to injuries, it would seem to be Kobe Bryant’s stage to perform. However, it would take a quiet first quarter where Bryant would shoot only two free throws before he would take the stage.

By that point, the Lakers trailed 29-10, on account of nine Laker turnovers to along with four blocked shots by Rockets center Yao Ming. Another basket from the Rockets would push the lead to 21, when at which Bryant would channel his “1-on-5″ mentality that both made him revered and reviled by Laker fans alike, scoring 17 points in the second quarter and sending the Lakers into halftime with an 18-point deficit.

Yao’s effort would match his size, as his 35 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks would all be team-highs. Even teammate Dikembe Mutumbo, at 40 years of age, would record three blocks, wagging his finger after each failed shot attempt. However, the defensive display wouldn’t last for long, as the Lakers would lead a furious 20-6 surge in the final two quarters to take the lead at 89-87.

When the Lakers would lead by two with only 22 seconds to play, it would be Yao Ming with a turnaround jumper to tie the game. When the Lakers would lead by two again in overtime with only 38 seconds to play, another turnaround jumper from Yao Ming would even the score. Only after a 9-0 run from the Lakers at the start of the second overtime, with a reverse dunk from Bryant and a three-pointer from Laker guard Smush Parker, would the Lakers finally outpace the Rockets, finishing with a 112-101 victory to move the Lakers to 16-7 on the season.

Quote of the Night: “Even though we were down by 20 points, I felt the game was ours,” Bryant said, “even though that may sound strange.” – Laker guard Kobe Bryant on his team’s chances of winning against the Houston Rockets. - From the LA Times, Dec. 16, 2006

James Cypert is a news and feature writer for LakerNation.com. When he's not perfecting his ill-advised Kareem-style sky-hook, you can find him on Laker Nation or follow him on Twitter.