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NBA Game Summary - Houston at LA Lakers

(Friday, April 3rd)

Final Score: LA Lakers 93, Houston 81

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Kobe Bryant scored 20 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, as the Los Angeles Lakers moved closer to the NBA's top spot with a 93-81 victory over the Houston Rockets at Staples Center.

Bryant went 7-of-11 from the field, including a 4-for-6 mark from three-point range, for the Lakers, who returned home after a seven-game road trip that saw the team go 5-2. Pau Gasol added 23 points, 10 rebounds and three steals, while Derek Fisher had 15 points in the victory.

"That was a mud-wrestling contest tonight," said Lakers head coach Phil Jackson. "We broke it open, and they came back. Our shooting wasn't very good. We knew Yao was struggling with his shot, and (Gasol) had the advantage in the second half."

With the Cavaliers loss earlier Friday, the Lakers are only one game behind Cleveland for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. LA holds the tiebreaker over the Cavs by virtue of their two wins over the East leaders this season.

Ron Artest scored a team-high 21 points to go with nine rebounds for the Rockets, who have lost three of four to fall 1 1/2 games behind the Southwest- leading Spurs and lose ground on the race for home-court advantage in the first round. Houston is now a half-game behind Portland for the fourth spot in the West after the Blazers defeated the Thunder on Friday.

"We played hard, but during a couple of stretches, we gave up two or three baskets, and they opened it up," Rockets head coach Rick Adelman said. "You can't let them open it up like that, and it cost us."

Yao Ming provided 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Luis Scola had 16 points and nine boards in the loss.

Trailing by five to start the fourth, Houston climbed to within 67-66 on a Von Wafer 15-footer in the early moments of the quarter.

The Lakers answered with six straight points to make it 75-68 on Luke Walton's basket with nine minutes remaining.

Bryant took over late, hitting two consecutive deep three-pointers to put LA ahead by 11, 87-76, with four minutes to play.

Houston never got closer than 10 down the stretch.

Houston scored the final four points of the first quarter to take a 21-20 lead, and a tight battle in the second led to a 44-44 tie at halftime after Artest drained a three in the final second.

After neither team could get any separation in the early moments of the third, the Lakers put together a 7-0 run that put LA ahead, 60-53, after Gasol made a running layup with 5 1/2 minutes left.

The Lakers pushed their lead to 10 on Fisher's three-pointer with 3 1/2 minutes on the clock, and the hosts led, 67-62, after three quarters.

Game Notes

The Lakers swept the season series, 4-0...LA reached the 60-win plateau for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, when the team won the NBA title...Shane Battier had 14 points for Houston...Lamar Odom provided nine points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers.

04/04 01:37:10 ET

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