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Rockets force Game 7 with win over Lakers

The Sports Network

5/15/2009 1:41:24 AM

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Luis Scola stepped up with a playoff career- high 24 points alongside 12 rebounds and Aaron Brooks dropped 26, as Houston staved off elimination with a 95-80 final over Los Angeles in Game 6 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

The series has featured back-and-forth lopsided losses with the Rockets shaking off a brutal 118-78 Game 5 blowout that tied the worst playoff loss in team history to force Game 7 back in LA on Sunday.

Carl Landry had 15 points and Ron Artest 14 for Houston, which despite the loss of center Yao Ming, continue to defy the pundits and odds of knocking off the top-seeded Lakers to reach the conference finals. Fifth-seeded Houston shot 50.7 percent from the field and led by 16 at halftime.

Kobe Bryant netted 32 points on 11-of-27 shooting but the Lakers started the game by missing their first eight field goals and were facing a 17-1 deficit nearly midway through the first quarter.

Pau Gasol had 14 points and 11 boards while Jordan Farmar chipped in 13 points in defeat. LA got within two at 5:58 of the third but was never able to grab the lead, finishing 35.7 percent shooting from the floor which included a 5- for-23 showing from three-point range.

The Rockets opened the game with a furious 17-1 start with 10 points from Scola before Bryant sank a jumper for LA's first field goal with 6:21 left on the clock.

Scola answered with a bucket and Artest got to the rim for two as Houston's lead ballooned to 21-3. The Lakers scored six of the next eight points but still finished the frame down 27-15 heading to the second quarter.

Three-pointers from Shane Battier and Artest early in the second extended the lead to 33-19 and a Von Wafer triple made it a 42-25 close to halfway through.

The Lakers got just three buckets from there to close out the half, each coming from Bryant, and the Rockets took a 52-36 halftime lead on Brooks' three-pointer to finish off the frame.

Bryant led the Lakers' charge to open the second half as the club got within two, 54-52, behind a 17-2 run to start the stanza. Bryant had seven points and knocked down a three as did Trevor Ariza, who scored five on the surge.

Landry completed a three-point play on the other end to spark an 8-2 spurt that allowed the hosts to grab a 62-54 advantage with 4:18 remaining.

A Farmar three-ball had LA back within five at 68-63 with 1:20 left but baskets by Brooks and Scola to end the third put the Rockets in front 74-65.

An Artest three-pointer with close to 7 1/2 minutes to go had the Rockets up 10, 79-69, and Landry started a late 7-2 spurt that took the Lakers out of the running for a comeback win. Landry's jumper was followed by back-to-back buckets from Brooks and a Landry free throw dropped for a 89-75 lead with 2:36 left on the clock. Houston hit 6-of-8 from the line from there to cement the victory.

Game Notes: The Lakers and Rockets have quite the playoff history, meeting seven times since 1981. LA has won four of the seven series, including the last two but Houston won the only time the teams matched up in the Western Conference finals, a 4-1 triumph in 1986...Including the playoffs, Rick Adelman's Rockets have won 11 of their last 12 games as the host...Landry also had nine boards...LA's Lamar Odom grabbed 14 rebounds and scored eight points in the loss.