Rockets force Game 7 with 95-80 win over LakersMay 15, 2009 - 7:52 AM By CHRIS DUNCAN AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON(AP) -- Kobe Bryant relishes Game 7s, but this is one he probably didn't expect to be playing.
Aaron Brooks scored 26 points, Luis Scola added 24 points and 12 rebounds, and the scrappy, undermanned Houston Rockets pushed the Los Angeles Lakers to the limit in their Western Conference semifinal series with a 95-80 win in Game 6 on Thursday night.
Reserve Carl Landry scored 15 as the Rockets built another huge lead in the first half, then fought off a Lakers rally to force a winner-take-all showdown on Sunday at the Staples Center.
Bryant scored 32 points for Los Angeles, which lost for only the third time in the last 18 games when it had a chance to close out a series.
"I knew it was going to be a dogfight," Bryant said. "So here it is. Game 7, there's nothing else to do but go out and compete. This is what we do so it should be fun."
Houston has managed to win two of the last three games in the series since Yao Ming went out with a broken left foot. And after losing by 40 points in Game 5, even fans calling into sports radio talk shows in Houston on Thursday were ready to write off their team.
"For the last two days, all I've heard is that we weren't going back to L.A.," said Houston coach Rick Adelman. "Our guys in the locker room didn't believe that."
Sunday's winner will play the Denver Nuggets, who get an extended rest after finishing off Dallas on Wednesday night.
"I think it's fun," Brooks said. "We enjoy it. We got them on their heels a little bit. The pressure's on them."
The Rockets put together a near carbon copy of the first half of Game 4, when they seemed to hit every open shot and smothered the Lakers on defense.
Los Angeles opened the second half with a 16-2 spurt to cut the deficit to two, but Landry converted a three-point play to break the Lakers' momentum.
The Rockets hit their last eight shots in the third quarter and took a 75-65 lead into the fourth.
"I've stopped trying to figure this team out," Battier said. "Just when you think we're down and out, this team comes with an unbelievable effort. We may not have the most talented team, but there's not a team with more heart in this entire league. We've shown it again and again and again."
Magic 83, Celtics 75=
At Orlando, Fla., Dwight Howard had 23 points and 22 rebounds and the Magic forced Game 7 in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Rashard Lewis had 20 points, and Hedo Turkoglu hit his only 3-pointer of the game to highlight a closing 11-2 run for Orlando, which hasn't made it to the conference finals since 1996.
Rajon Rondo finished with 19 points, 16 rebounds and six assists, and Paul Pierce scored 17 points for the defending champion Celtics, who led by 10 points in the second half.
The Celtics failed to close out Chicago in Game 6 of their first-round series, a triple-overtime epic, and will now go the distance in their first two series for the second straight season.
Game 7 is Sunday in Boston.
LA LAKERS 80
HOUSTON 95 FINAL
May 15 12:32 AM
LA LAKERS 65
HOUSTON 74 END, 3RD QTR
May 14 11:47 PM
LA LAKERS 36
HOUSTON 52 HALFTIME
May 14 10:59 PM
LA LAKERS 15
HOUSTON 27 END, 1ST QTR
May 14 10:20 PM
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