There are only three games left on Kobe Bryant's farewell tour, and he makes his final visit to Houston on Sunday when the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Rockets. There will be plenty of familiar faces in the building for Bryant, as the Rockets' current roster includes three former Lakers: Trevor Ariza, Andrew Goudelock and Dwight Howard. Additionally, Patrick Beverley was drafted by the Lakers, but traded away on draft day.
Goudelock will always be connected to Bryant because of the 2013 playoffs -- which Bryant missed due to his Achilles injury. Goudelock, who had played only one game for the Lakers in the 2012-13 regular season, started twice in Bryant's shooting guard spot in the Lakers' first-round playoff loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Speaking of the playoffs, Bryant has faced the Rockets three times in the postseason. In 1999, Bryant and the Lakers beat the Rockets 3-1 in the first round, with Bryant scoring 18.3 PPG (including 24 in the series clincher in Houston). In 2004, the two teams again met in the first round. Bryant averaged a team-leading 24.4 PPG in the series, which the Lakers won 4-1, en route to his fourth NBA Finals appearance. And in 2009, the Rockets once again were bested on the Lakers' road to the Finals, though this time it took seven games for Kobe & Co. to dispatch Houston in the second round.
Bryant's very first visit to Houston came in just the sixth game of his career. He scored two points in five minutes of action off the bench on Nov. 12, 1996, as the Lakers beat the Rockets 126-115 in double-overtime. His current coach, Byron Scott, played 40 minutes for the Lakers that night, scoring seven points.
Bryant's career high in Houston was 45 points, which he scored on Dec. 21, 2000, in the old Compaq Center (the building formerly known as The Summit, where the Rockets played until 2003). His best scoring night in Houston's current home came on Nov. 4, 2009, when he scored 41 points -- including a go-ahead basket with 1:30 left in OT -- to lead the Lakers to a 103-102 overtime win. He has three 50-point games against the Rockets, all coming in Los Angeles. His best overall performance against Houston was a 53-point, 10-rebound, 8-assist affair in a double-overtime win on Dec. 15, 2006.
Entering Sunday night's action, Bryant has played 35 games in Houston, including the playoffs, racking up a record of 19 wins and 16 losses. He's 46-30 against the Rockets overall in his career, though he has lost six of the past seven games he has played against them.