Late surge fuels Lakers past RocketsMar 12, 2009 - 5:34 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers did not get caught looking ahead.
Bryant had a huge second half and the Lakers used a late surge to post a 102-96 victory over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
Bryant scored 31 of his points in the second half and hit some key shots down the stretch as the Lakers closed the game by outscoring the Rockets, 16-10, in the final 2:20.
"I was just disappointed in the way we played the second half. They took control of the game and finished it off, and we just could never get on a roll defensively," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "We turned it over 23 times. We shot 51 percent, but that doesn't help if we turn it over like we did."
Pau Gasol added 20 points for Los Angeles, which has a key Western conference showdown with the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.
Josh Powell added 17 for the Lakers, who snapped a three-game road losing streak despite missing Lamar Odom, who served a one-game suspension for leaving the bench during an altercation in Monday's loss at Portland.
Von Wafer scored 20 points off the bench for Houston.
"I think in the second half we didn't play as good a defense and they got a stretch where they scored," Wafer said. "We've got to sharpen that up. It was a tough game. You lose the tough ones, but I think we got better from this."
Bryant scored 18 of his points in the fourth when the game was decided. Wafer scored to make it 86-86 with 2:26 to go, but the Lakers reeled off six straight points, including a bucket by Bryant that made it 92-86.
"We had a wonderful halftime talk. We came out and played good defense. Our post defense got a lot better," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "Yao didn't get many touches. We got a lot of steals. We had to try to get Kobe started. He was going east and west (in the first half) instead of north and south."
Bryant then iced the game with a three-point play when he was fouled on a jumper by Shane Battier. The free throw made it 95-88 with 38 seconds left.
"We became a little more assertive (in the second)," Bryant said. "In the first half we kind of let them take it to us a little bit. It's a big win. We've been struggling on the road. I felt our bench came in and played fairly well."
Yao Ming scored 16 points and Luis Scola added 15 for Houston.
LA LAKERS 102
HOUSTON 96 FINAL
Mar 11 10:59 PM
LA LAKERS 67
HOUSTON 70 END, 3RD QTR
Mar 11 10:17 PM
LA LAKERS 40
HOUSTON 51 HALFTIME
Mar 11 9:34 PM
LA LAKERS 24
HOUSTON 24 END, 1ST QTR
Mar 11 9:03 PM
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