Rockets Have Lift-Off In Game One Vs. Lakers

Andrew GloverCorrespondent IMay 5, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 03:  Shane Battier #31 of the Houston Rockets dunks in front of Josh Powell #21 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on April 3, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The Houston Rockets did not beat the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2008-2009 season. In their two previous playoff series against the Lakers, the Rockets did not win in Los Angeles. In this series, the Rockets were looking to change that.

The Rockets did change defeating the top seeded Lakers 100-92 in Game One of the Western Conference Semi Finals.

Houston led most of the game only trailing 47 seconds of the game. The Lakers largest lead was one which they got several times with their latest coming in the fourth quarter.

Los Angeles was off a week after finishing the Utah Jazz in Game five of the Western Conference quarterfinals. Against Houston, the Lakers struggled shooting especially from three-point territory. The Lakers were two-for-18 behind the three-point line shooting 11 percent.

The game started back and forth until the last four minutes of the fourth quarter. The Rockets scored six straight points in a minute time span to take a 19-12 lead. Yao Ming, Aaron Brooks and Luis Scola each made a basket.

The Lakers would go on a run next, outscoring the Rockets 12-4 to take a 24-23 lead with 9:38 left in the second quarter. Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza each had four points.Β  Nevertheless, the Rockets would go on another run.

Houston went on an 11-2 run to take a 34-26 lead with 6:15 left in the second quarter. Kyle Lowery scored three points with a layup and a free throw. Ron Artest and Brent Barry made three-pointers. The Rockets maintained a two-possession lead until 2:55 left in the first half.

Los Angeles went on a 8-3 run to close the second quarter. Kobe Bryant made two jumpers, Derek Fisher made a jumper and Pau Gasol made two free throws.

The third quarter would be defined by runs by both teams. The Rockets scored the first six points of the quarter to expand their lead to 49-40 with 10:25 left in the third. The Lakers went on a 8-0 run to bring the game within one with 7:56 left.

The Rockets went on a 10-2 run to bring the lead back to nine with 5:54 left in the quarter. Aaron Brooks scored five points during that time span and nine points in the third quarter. Brooks scored 19 points in the game.

The Lakers closed the third quarter with a 17-11 run to cut the Rockets led to three. Bryant scored 11 points in the last six minutes of the third quarter. Bryant was held to eight points in the first half, which was in large part credited to the Rockets for keeping him outside of the paint.

The first minute and a half of the fourth quarter was back and forth, but the Lakers went on an 8-2 run to grab a 77-76 lead with 8:18 left in the game. This was the Lakers last lead of the game.

On the Rockets next possession, Artest gave the Rockets the lead for good with a 19-foot jumper and was fouled. Artest made the free throw giving the Rockets a 79-77 lead. The Rockets scored the next six points. Brooks scored four and got the assist on Yao’s basket as the Rockets led 85-77 with 5:18 left in the game.

The Rockets and their fans did receive a scare with about five minutes left in the fourth. Bryant was driving to the basket and bumped his knee into Yao’s. The Rockets center fell to the court in pain and temporarily left the game. Yao worked out the soreness in his knee in the tunnel and returned to the game during the next dead ball.

The Lakers trailed by as many as 11 in the fourth quarter and did not get closer than six points. Los Angeles trailed 96-90 with 33 seconds left and nearly made the Rockets turn it over with their trapping defense. However, Odom fouled Yao with 24 seconds left and Yao made both free throws.

The Rockets shot 47 percent from the field, 27 percent from the three-point line and was 25-for-29 from the free throw line. Houston won two straight playoff games for the second time this season. They won games three and four against Portland in the conference quarterfinals.

Yao led the team in scoring with 28 points and got another double double with a team-leading 10 rebounds. The Rockets center was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line.

Artest after scoring 27 points in Game Six against Portland put 21 against the Lakers. Brooks had 19 and was successful in finding the open spots on the court.

Artest led the team in assists with seven; Shane Battier led the team in steals with three. Battier took a hard hit in the first quarter when he was going up for a rebound against Gasol. Battier temporarily left in the first because his face was bleeding. Additionally they had to clean the blood off the court.

Bryant led the Lakers in scoring with 32, but did not shot well. Bryant shot 14-for-31 from the field and was only one-for-seven from three. Gasol scored 14 points, Andrew Bynum and Ariza each had 10.

Gasol led the team in rebounds with 13, assists with four and steals with three. Bryant also had four assists.

The Rockets and Lakers will continue their series Wednesday night in Los Angeles.


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