Lakers get even with Rockets
Bryant scores 40 to tie series for LA
LOS ANGELES - Another rough-and-tumble game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets turned bloody. This time, though, the Lakers defended their home court.
Kobe Bryant scored 40 points, Pau Gasol added 22 points and 14 rebounds and the Lakers won Game 2, 111-98, last night to even the Western Conference semifinal series.
Ron Artest, one of two players ejected in the game, scored 25 points and Carl Landry added a career playoff-high 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who overcame a 14-point deficit in the first half only to trail most of the second half.
Game 3 is tomorrow night in Houston.
Houston's Yao Ming finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds after picking up three fouls in the first half.
Emotions boiled over in the second half, with Derek Fisher of the Lakers and Artest getting ejected and technical fouls assessed to Bryant, Artest, Luis Scola, Luke Walton and Lamar Odom, who had 11 rebounds.
"It's the playoffs," Bryant said, "this is what it's about."
Artest was sent off the court by referee Joe Crawford with 6:57 remaining in the game after he pointed across the court at Bryant and made a gesture near his throat. Artest complained that he was elbowed in the throat by Bryant under the basket.
"We are playing basketball, there is a lot of contact taking place," Bryant said. "If you are going to be physical you have to expect to get physical back."
The final 30 seconds of the third quarter turned into a foul fest. Scola and teammates Odom and Walton all were hit with technicals after they jawed at the Lakers' end of the court.
Moments later, Fisher was called for a flagrant foul when he collided with Scola as the Rockets brought the ball up the court.
Scola fell to the court and Fisher received a bloody cut on his head near his right ear. Scola made both free throws and Houston retained possession.
There was sideline drama, too. Houston's Von Wafer was escorted to the locker room at the end of the third quarter after exchanging words with coach Rick Adelman.
Blood ran in Monday's series opener, won by the Rockets. Houston's Shane Battier had blood streaming down the side of his face after catching an elbow from Sasha Vujacic.
"Right from the opening tip we wanted to be aggressive, get after it a bit," Bryant said. "We are being tested and this is fun."
In between the whistles and walkoffs, there was basketball.
The Lakers opened the fourth quarter on a 13-9 run that pushed their lead to 99-86. The Rockets closed to 99-90, but Bryant scored 5 straight points and Houston didn't threaten again.
Tied at halftime, the Lakers outscored the Rockets, 16-4, to take a 73-62 lead midway through the third quarter. Los Angeles made 7 of 9 free throws down the stretch and extended its lead to 86-77 entering the final 12 minutes.
Led by Landry's 16 points, the Rockets' reserves clobbered the Lakers' bench in the second quarter and erased all of the 14-point deficit. Houston took its first lead of the game, 49-48, on a 14-foot jumper by Artest that capped a 10-0 run.
Wafer added 5 points and Chuck Hayes 2 as Houston led by 4 points late in the period.
But Bryant hit a 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds remaining to pull the Lakers into a halftime tie at 57.