Los Angeles — Kobe Bryant needed only three quarters to score 26 points and the Los Angeles Lakers bounced back from their Game 4 flop, routing the Houston Rockets, 118-78, on Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
The top-seeded Lakers did everything they didn’t do in Sunday’s 99-87 loss at Houston — hustled, rebounded and played tight defense on Houston’s smaller lineup, keeping Aaron Brooks in check and limiting wide-open shots.
On Sunday the Lakers trailed by 29 points. On Tuesday night, they had a 29-point lead by late in the second quarter, on a three-pointer by Bryant, who led seven Lakers in double figures.
The Lakers can wrap up the series Thursday night in Houston.
Bryant looked more like himself after being held to 15 points on Sunday. With the Lakers far ahead after holding the Rockets to only 15 points in each of the second and third quarters, he sat out the fourth period.
Pau Gasol had 16 points and 13 rebounds, Andrew Bynum 14 points, Trevor Ariza 13 and Jordan Farmar 12. Lamar Odom and Josh Powell had 10 apiece.
Brooks was held to 14 points after scoring a career-high 34 on Sunday. Ron Artest had a horrible night shooting, 4-of-15 for nine points. The Rockets shot only 32 percent.
The Lakers fell behind by six points midway through the first quarter, but it didn’t take them long to answer the question of whether they’d show up.
Los Angeles gained control by outscoring Houston 23-6 during the final six minutes of the first quarter. Bryant had eight points, making three straight shots at one point. Odom sank a three-pointer and Farmar another three at the buzzer for a 35-24 lead.