Los Angeles Lakers Blast Houston Rockets Out of Playoffs
The Rockets struggled mightily on offense in the first quarter, missing their first 12 shots. It took more than five minutes for the Rockets to put points on the board, with Aaron Brooks making two free throws. The Rockets did not make their first basket until 4:44 left in the first when Chuck Hayes made a layup.
Trevor Ariza led the Lakers offensively with nine points and scored six of the Lakers' first eight points of the game. Pau Gasol had five points in the first and Derek Fisher scored four. The Lakers led 22-12 after the first quarter.
The Lakers maintained a double-digit lead most of the first half. The closest the Rockets got was a one-point deficit at the beginning of the game. Los Angeles would lead by as many as 25 in the first half. The Rockets closed the half scoring the last five points with Ron Artest hitting a three and Von Wafer making a jumper.
The Rockets committed seven turnovers, which the Lakers scored 11 points from. Houston was one-for-nine from the three-point line and shot 32 percent from the field in the first half.
The third quarter was defined by runs by both teams. The Lakers opened with a 7-2 run, expanding their lead to 58-33. Kobe Bryant, Ariza, and Fisher each scored points.
The Rockets scored five of the next six points cutting the Lakers lead to 20. Luis Scola made a jumper and two free throws. The Lakers would bring their lead to 24 with Bryant and Andrew Bynum making shots.
Houston would outscore the Lakers 11-6 to end the third quarter trailing 69-50. The Rockets did not get closer than 18 in the second half. Los Angeles would lead by as many as 30 in the second half.
The loss was Houston’s third consecutive by double digits. The Rockets' three losses in Los Angeles were by at least 13 points, losing the last two by more than 20. Additionally, this was the Rockets third consecutive loss in Game Seven and the second consecutive time they were blown out when Houston lost 116-76 in Dallas in the 2005 playoffs.
Nevertheless, the Rockets won two playoff games without Yao Ming who has been out since Game Three with a broken foot.
The Rockets shot 36 percent from the field, 25 percent from the three-point line (5-for-20), and 64 percent from the free throw line. Houston had 16 turnovers, resulting in 16 points for the Lakers.
Brooks led the Rockets in scoring with 13 points in 39 minutes. Artest led the Rockets in rebounds with eight, and assists with five, and Hayes led the Rockets in steals with five.
The Lakers advance to the Conference Final for the second consecutive season and third time in the last six seasons. Los Angeles has won their last five appearances in the conference finals.
The Lakers shot 46 percent from the field, 33 percent from the three-point line and 77 percent from free throws. Los Angeles turned the ball over 19 times resulting in 19 points for the Rockets.
Gasol led the Lakers in scoring with 21. Bryant only had 14 points as he dealt with foul trouble for part of the game. Bynum, who was held scoreless in three games of the series, scored 14.
Gasol also led the team in rebounds with 18. Bryant led the team in assists with five and Gasol led the team in blocks with three.
The Lakers will host the second-seeded Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. The Nuggets beat the Mavericks 4-1 in their Western Conference semifinal.
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