May 12 - STAPLES CENTER - LOS ANGELES. Finally, one game later than expected the Lakers did what they were supposed to do, completely dominated the Yao Ming-less Rockets with a 118-78 rout and took a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series.
The 40-point margin tied Houston’s worst playoff loss ever and for the Lakers it was the biggest in the postseason since 1986. This time things worked so well that even Andrew Bynum did a good contribution with 14 points and 6 rebounds in 20 minutes. The young center started and Lamar Odom had limited minutes coming from the bench due to a hard fall in game 4. Kobe Bryant rebounded from a poor performance and had 26 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in just 3 quarters of play while Pau Gasol ended with 16 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks in 32 minutes.
The Rockets opened the first quarter with a 13-6 lead but this time Yao's undersized replacement Chuck Hayes couldn't do much against Bynum and Gasol. Ariza's dunk after a fastbreak tied it at 18 with 5:20 left and the Lakers closed the period with a 17-6 for a 35-24 lead that included 12 points by Kobe. Then the Lakers mounted a show, holding the Rockets to only 15 points in each of the second and third quarters and outscoring them 59-30 in those periods to go to the fourth 94-54, a 40-point lead that the reserves preserved until the end.
Aaron Brooks who scored a career-high 34 on game 4 was held to 14 points on 4-for-11 shooting and Ron Artest had another bad night going 4-of-15 for 9 points. They were just part of the Rockets problem who as a team shot only 32 percent, including a horrible 5-for-29 (.172) from beyond the 3-point line.