May 8 - Houston. Playing good basketball instead of hitting harder, things are easier for the Lakers who had and excellent night and defeated the Rockets at Houston 108-94 to take a 2-1 lead in the series
Defensive pressure and ball movement were the keys for L.A. and it all began with Jordan Farmar who started at point guard in place of suspended Derek Fisher and did it more than good with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists in almost 33 minutes. He also set the tone of the defense in the first quarter when he dived for loose ball and from the floor assisted Trevor Ariza for a dunk.
Kobe Bryant scored 33 points and although he wasn't too accurate from the field (11-for-28) he made, as usual, the shots that mattered including a buzzer beater from 33 feet to end the third quarter and give the Lakers a 74-62 lead. He made four of five 3-pointers while the whole team was 11-for-20 in that category. It was a good sign after going 6-for-17 in game 2 and an horrendous 2-for-18 in game 1, because the Rockets' strategy is to clog the paint and force Kobe to settle for jump shots. Sometimes he finds 3 or even 4 defenders on him when going to the basket which leaves his teammates open. The defense played by L.A. gave as result 11 steals and 9 blocked shots against 2 and 3 by Houston.
Despite Kobe's 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting in the first quarter the Lakers entered the second leading just 30-28, then they started to miss from everywhere and found themselves trailing 46-43 with 2 minutes to go. But the Rockets committed 2 turnovers and L.A. went to halftime leading 50-48. From there on the Lakers showed their superiority, built a small margin and defended it until the end of the game. Yao Ming dunked the ball with 4:15 left to close the gap to 84-90 but that was the closer they would get. Farmar answered with jumper and later Kobe beat the shot clock with a three. The only emotions left in the game were the ejection of Ron Artest for a hard foul on a driving Pau Gasol and the panic generated on the Rockets fans by the image of Yao Ming limping through the court. Yao ended with 19 points and 14 rebounds while Artest had 25 and 6.
Lamar Odom had another solid game with 16 points and 13 rebounds and Gasol and Ariza added 13 points each. Kobe, who also contributed 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks, surpassed Larry Bird for sixth in the Playoffs all-time scoring list with 3,928 points.