for this game

Lakers beat Rockets 108-94 to take 2-1 series lead

May 9, 2009 - 9:22 AM By CHRIS DUNCAN AP Sports Writer

HOUSTON(AP) -- After jawing with Shane Battier and Ron Artest for much of Game 2, Kobe Bryant let his shooting send the message that the Lakers are back in control of the series.

Bryant scored 33 points and Los Angeles took a 2-1 lead in its Western Conference semifinal with a 108-94 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.

He sank a 33-footer just before the end of the third quarter to put the Lakers up by 12, then struck a frozen pose at midcourt to silence the capacity crowd. The Rockets got no closer than six the rest of the way.

"I'm just doing what I do best," Bryant said, "just challenging other teams to try to do something with me. We, as a team, play off of that. It's on me to be aggressive."

Lamar Odom had 16 points and 13 rebounds and reserve point guard Jordan Farmar had 12 points and seven assists in place of the suspended Derek Fisher, who was ejected from Game 2 for a hard hit on Luis Scola when he set a pick.

Artest scored 25 points before he was ejected for a flagrant foul on Pau Gasol in the final minute, the only sign of carryover from the rough play that turned testy in Game 2. Artest was ejected from Game 2 for a verbal altercation with Bryant following Bryant's elbow to Artest's upper chest.

"I don't think that was a flagrant, maybe a flagrant-1," Bryant said of Artest's latest ejection. "That rule is so all over the place, it's hard to judge. I'm an '80s baby, so that's just two shots and let's go."

Yao Ming added 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Rockets but he was bothered by a sore left foot in the final minutes and was limping as he left the court.

Yao said he would test the injury with running on Saturday and vowed he'll play in Game 4 on Sunday.

"I really want to play," he said. "When tomorrow's test shows everything's all right, I'm going to play."

Yao's health is only one of Houston's worries after the Lakers snapped the Rockets' nine-game home winning streak. The Rockets gave away 17 turnovers that generated 20 Lakers points and went 6-for-25 from the field in the third quarter, when Los Angeles built a 74-62 lead.

"We didn't play a playoff-quality basketball game, and they did," said Houston forward Shane Battier, who's guarded Bryant for most of the series. "We couldn't find anything that was really working for us."

In the first quarter, Bryant passed Larry Bird and moved into sixth place on the all-time postseason scoring list. He now has 3,928 career points in the postseason, just behind former Laker Jerry West, who had 4,457.

Magic 117, Celtics 96=

At Orlando, Dwight Howard had 17 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks to lift the Magic over the Celtics for a 2-1 series lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal.

Rashard Lewis had 28 points, and Hedo Turkoglu scored 24 for Orlando, which played without starting point guard Rafer Alston. He was suspended by the NBA for slapping Eddie House in the back of the head in Game 2.

Paul Pierce broke out of his series slump to score 27 points, and Rajon Rondo added 15 for the defending champion Celtics, who trimmed a 20-point deficit to seven before the Magic regained control. Game 4 is Sunday in Orlando.