Houston Kobe Bryant scored 33 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers took a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series with a 108-94 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
Lamar Odom had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and reserve point guard Jordan Farmar had 12 points and seven assists in place of the suspended Derek Fisher, who was ejected from Game 2 for a hard hit on Luis Scola when he set a pick.
Game 3 had no signs of the rough play that turned testy in Game 2 until the final minute, when Houston’s Ron Artest was ejected for a hard foul on Pau Gasol. Artest was ejected from Game 2 for an oral altercation with Bryant following Bryant’s elbow to Artest’s upper chest.
“I don’t think that was a flagrant, maybe a flagrant one,” Bryant said of Artest’s ejection. “That rule is so all over the place, it’s hard to judge. I’m an ’80s baby, so that’s just two shots and let’s go.”
Artest had 25 points, and Yao Ming added 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Rockets, but he was bothered by a lower-left-leg injury in the final minutes and was limping as he left the court.
The Lakers snapped the Rockets’ nine-game home winning streak.
Game 4 is Sunday in Houston.
The Rockets trailed 50-48 at halftime, then missed 15 of their first 19 shots in the third quarter.
“We had to get stops,” Bryant said. “When they started desperation plays, we were not able to get stops. In the third quarter and into the fourth quarter, we started to get stops and it sustained us.”