for this game

Lakers shake off slow start, blow past Rockets

Nov 10, 2008 - 6:31 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Albeit a small sampling, Houston Rockets coach Rick Adelman already is impressed with what he's seen from the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kobe Bryant scored 23 points and Pau Gasol had 20 and 15 rebounds as the Lakers remained unbeaten with a 111-82 victory over the Rockets on Sunday.

Jordan Farmar added 16 points off the bench and Andrew Bynum scored 13 for the Lakers, who are off to their first 5-0 start since the 2003-04 campaign.

"Five games into it, I guess they are (the best)," Adelman said. "I mean, they've won every game by 20 points-plus. They are playing very well right now."

The Lakers, who advanced to last year's NBA Finals before falling to the Boston Celtics, opened the season as the odds-on favorite to capture the title this go around.

Despite not playing their best basketball to date, they managed to get it done against a Rockets team that figures to challenge them for the top spot in the Western Conference.

"We haven't played in a few days," Farmar said. "So, that was expected that we would play a little rusty."

Shaking off that rust, the Lakers opened up a seven-point lead after three quarters and put away the Rockets in the fourth with a 20-8 spurt to start the frame - thanks in large part to the bench.

Farmar scored five quick points on a layup and 3-pointer, followed by a technical free throw and jumper by Sasha Vujacic that pushed the lead to 94-75 with 6:15 remaining.

The Lakers applied the finishing touches when Bynum's alley-oop extended the advantage to 22 points two possessions later. Bryant received an alley-oop of his own and Trevor Ariza buried a 3-pointer in the corner to make it 107-80 with 2:47 left.

"We created more opportunities in the second half," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We moved the ball better."

The Rockets' cold stretch late in the game was opposite of how they started. Houston had a 28-16 lead after one quarter and the visitors took their largest advantage early in the second when Aaron Brooks' layup made it 32-16 with an even 11 minutes remaining in the half.

Los Angeles responded with a 34-16 run for the rest of the second quarter and took a 50-47 lead on a pair of Gasol free throws with 39 seconds left in the half.

"We dug our heels down, created some turnovers and got some easy baskets," Bryant said.

The Rockets turned the ball over eight times in the quarter, leading to 13 points the other way.

"I think we just got too comfortable," Houston guard Tracy McGrady said. "We just didn't play with that same type of energy."

McGrady and Ron Artest struggled mightily for the Rockets, shooting a combined 3-of-22 for 11 total points.

McGrady was 1-of-11 for three points, one game after netting two against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.

"It was an awful shooting night, I just couldn't get any rhythm," McGrady said. "I think they did a great job making it tough for me."

Brooks led the new-look Rockets with 20 points, while Yao Ming scored 12.

After shooting 29 percent (5-of-17) in the first quarter, the Lakers shot 60 percent (37-of-62) for the rest of the game.