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 Lakers bounce back to beat Rockets 118-78

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PostSubject: Lakers bounce back to beat Rockets 118-78   Wed May 13, 2009 4:53 pm

LOS ANGELES(AP) Two days after being blindsided in Texas, the Los Angeles Lakers returned the favor.Kobe
Bryant needed only three quarters to score 26 points and the Lakers
bounced back from their Game 4 flop, routing the Houston Rockets 118-78
on Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference
semifinals.The top-seeded Lakers did everything they didn't do
in Sunday's 99-87 loss at Houston - hustled, rebounded and played tight
defense on Houston's smaller lineup, keeping Aaron Brooks in check and
limiting wide-open shots.On Sunday the Lakers trailed by 29
points. On Tuesday night, they had a 29-point lead by late in the
second quarter, on a 3-pointer by Bryant, who led seven Lakers in
double figures.The 40-point margin tied the Rockets' worst playoff loss ever. They lost to the Dallas Mavericks 116-76 on May 7, 2005.The Lakers can wrap up the series Thursday night in Houston.Then
again, they've been prone to lapses in these playoffs, which is
probably why Bryant warned that it's not going to be easy to finish off
the Rockets."We've got to stay focused and understand that the
effort we gave tonight is not going to be enough on Thursday. It's just
not,'' Bryant said. "We're not playing some chump team. I don't care
how many people they have out. This is a tough team, it's a tough team
full of competitors.''The Rockets played their second game without Yao Ming, who sustained a season-ending stress fracture in his left foot in Game 3.Bryant
looked more like himself after being held to 15 points on Sunday. With
the Lakers far ahead after holding the Rockets to only 15 points in
each of the second and third quarters, he sat out the fourth period."We
played just the opposite we did the last game,'' Houston coach Rick
Adelman said. "We turned it over in the first half, shot it poorly. We
said if we turn it over against this team we're going to be in big
trouble. That's exactly what we did."It just kind of fed their energy level. The second and third quarters are about as bad as we've played in a long time.''Pau
Gasol had 16 points and 13 rebounds, Andrew Bynum 14 points, Trevor
Ariza 13 and Jordan Farmar 12. Lamar Odom and Josh Powell had 10 apiece.Brooks
was held to 14 points after scoring a career-high 34 on Sunday. Ron
Artest had a horrible night shooting, 4-of-15 for nine points. The
Rockets shot only 32 percent."There are seven games. That is the
great thing about the playoffs,'' Artest said. "It is not like football
where there is one game, so you can only stay positive.''Houston had an early lead, but Chuck Hayes, who replaced Yao, picked up his second foul by midway through the first quarter.The
Lakers gained control by outscoring Houston 23-6 during the final six
minutes of the first quarter. Bryant had eight points, making three
straight shots at one point. Odom sank a 3-pointer and Farmar another 3
at the buzzer for a 35-24 lead."We just made our adjustments,
really,'' Bryant said. "The last game they played a different style, a
little bit more uptempo, spread the floor out a little bit. They got
off to a great start and we never recovered."Tonight we did a good job covering for our defensive assignments. We didn't blow too many of those; made plays.''The Rockets had nine turnovers in the first half."We
had a good first couple of minutes and then we started to turn the ball
over,'' Artest said. "But we are going to adjust. That is the thing
with the Houston Rockets.''With Bryant sitting out at the start
of the second quarter, the Lakers didn't lose any of their intensity,
going on an 8-0 run to push the lead to 43-24. Gasol made a hook shot
and two free throws, Odom made two free throws and Sasha Vujacic
blocked a shot by Von Wafer, raced down the court and took a pass from
Gasol for a slam dunk.With Houston going cold, the Lakers piled
it on, taking a 64-35 lead on Bryant's 3-pointer with 1:31 before
halftime. It was 64-39 at the break.Notes: Odom didn't start,
but entered the game late in the first quarter in place of Bynum. Odom
had been listed as questionable with a bruised back, the result of
taking a hard fall on Sunday. ... Luke Walton had six rebounds off the
bench for the Lakers. ... Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea played the
national anthem. He didn't remove his black hat.

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