Los Angeles wins series 4-3 (Game 4 of 7)

Los Angeles wins series 4-3

Game 1: Monday, May 4th
Game 2: Wednesday, May 6th
Game 3: Friday, May 8th
Game 4: Sunday, May 10th
Game 5: Tuesday, May 12th
Game 6: Thursday, May 14th
Game 7: Sunday, May 17th

Lakers 87

(65-17, 29-12 away)

Rockets 99

(53-29, 33-8 home)

    Coverage: ABC

    3:30 PM ET, May 10, 2009

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    LAL 16 20 18 3387
    HOU 29 25 29 1699

    Top Performers

    LAL: P. Gasol 30 Pts, 9 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Blk

    Hou: A. Brooks 34 Pts, 3 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Blk

    Yao-less Rockets rout Lakers, even series at 2-2

    Associated Press

    HOUSTON -- With Yao Ming out, the Houston Rockets had no chance to beat the Los Angeles Lakers. Right?

    2009 NBA Playoffs

    Want an in-depth look at the Rockets-Lakers series? Check out all the stats, analysis and opinion here:

    • Rockets-Lakers page


    Aaron Brooks scored a career-high 34, Shane Battier sank five 3-pointers and added 23 and the Rockets beat the Lakers 99-87 on Sunday to even their Western Conference semifinal at two games apiece.

    "I think everyone but us got the memo that we weren't supposed to show up today without Yao," Battier said.

    Adande: No Yao, No Problem

    It looks like the more All-Stars you remove, the better the Houston Rockets play, writes J.A. Adande. Story

    Luis Scola had 11 points and 14 rebounds as the Rockets got exactly the team effort they needed after Yao broke his left foot in the Lakers' win in Game 3.

    Game 5 is Tuesday night in Los Angeles, and anyone who thought the Rockets were finished without their best player only needed to watch the first quarter on Sunday, when Houston built a 29-16 lead.

    The Rockets never trailed and led by as many as 29 before the Lakers made the score respectable toward the end.

    "I'm not surprised," said Battier. "It almost sounds cliche, but we're a resilent group. We talk about bouncing back. Through adversity, through lineup changes, through trades, through injuries, we've never quit and we've never stopped believing."

    Fast Facts

    • The Rockets led by 13 after the first quarter and led by as many as 29 points.

    • Houston improved to 4-0 all-time against Los Angeles without Yao Ming (regular season and postseason).

    • Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 30 points.

    • Kobe Bryant added 15 points on 7-of-17 shooting. Bryant averaged 35.0 points through the first three games of the series. Sunday's loss marked the fewest points scored by Bryant in a playoff game since also scoring 15 points against the Suns on April 24, 2007.

    -- ESPN Stats & Information

    Brooks, in his second NBA season, became Houston's starting point guard when the team dealt Rafer Alston to Orlando at the trade deadline.

    He faced countless questions about his inexperience before the postseason began, but keeps showing skeptics that he can handle the job. He scored 27 points in Houston's Game 1 win in Portland and had 14 points in the second half of the Rockets' 100-92 victory in the opener of this series.

    Brooks deflected credit to his teammates after this one.

    "I'm lucky to have these guys," he said. "It makes it a lot easier on me."

    Pau Gasol scored 30 points and Kobe Bryant had a quiet 15 for Los Angeles.

    Lakers coach Phil Jackson warned his team about taking the Rockets too lightly after hearing about Yao's injury. But the Lakers looked lethargic from the start, giving away careless turnovers and playing lax defense.

    "They didn't anticipate the energy that they were going to come with," Jackson said. "But you say as much as you can as a coach and then the players have to execute and do it on the floor."

    The Rockets opened the game with a 22-7 run, starting 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Bryant scored the Lakers' first three baskets, but the rest of the team missed its first seven shots.

    Houston led 54-36 at the break. The Lakers grabbed only two offensive rebounds and generated only four fast-break points in their lowest-scoring half of the season. Battier had 15 points at halftime, two more than Bryant.

    "I just don't think we started the game with the right energy or the right focus or sense of urgency," Bryant said.

    Los Angeles didn't start the second half too well, either.

    The Rockets outscored Los Angeles 29-18 in the decisive third quarter, led by Brooks' 17 points. The speedy, 6-foot guard finished the quarter by catching a midcourt pass by Ron Artest and putting in a layup just before the buzzer.

    Yao, dressed in a dark suit, wore a broad grin and applauded when Brooks sprinted off the floor after the improbable basket.

    The 7-foot-6 Yao is out for the rest of the playoffs, but the Rockets never doubted they could beat the Lakers without him.

    "This was the effort we expected," said Battier. "I don't know about the result, but it was the effort that we expected. There was a different look to our team today."

    Lamar Odom, who scored 16 points in Game 3, drove into Battier and was called for a charge midway through the quarter. He hit the floor hard, limped to the bench and went to the locker room with back spasms. He did not return.

    Odom will have tests on Monday and said he'll sit out practice.

    The Rockets led by 27 when Odom was hurt, and when Brooks completed the last-second alley-oop, Artest smacked his hands on the scorers' table and smiled to the roaring crowd, in seeming disbelief about how things were going.

    Artest scored only eight points, but had 10 rebounds and six assists.

    Bryant returned from a long rest with 5:41 left in the game and the Lakers cut the deficit to 10. But it was too late by then and Brooks fittingly scored Houston's last two points on free throws in the final minute.

    Game notes

    Scola recorded his fifth career postseason double-double. ... Bryant was held under 30 points for the first time in four games at the Toyota Center this season. ... Artest sported a new mohawk hairdo, similar to the one he had before the series began. This time, 'Houston' was shaved on one side and a Rockets' logo adorned the other side. ... The team winning after the opening quarter has won all 10 of the Rockets' playoff games.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 87 99
    FGM-FGA 34-76 (.447) 36-80 (.450)
    3PM-3PA 8-18 (.444) 10-29 (.345)
    FTM-FTA 11-18 (.611) 17-20 (.850)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-37 11-43
    Assists 14 18
    Turnovers 11 11
    Steals 7 7
    Blocks 4 4
    Fast Break Points 13 5
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (2/0) 16 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 0 29

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Pau Gasol Gasol
    Points: 30
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2
    Aaron Brooks Brooks
    Points: 34
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1