10 May 2009

Bryant puts Lakers up 2-1

6:55 am on 10 May 2009

Kobe Bryant top-scored with 33 points to help the Los Angeles Lakers take control of their Western Conference semi-final series with a 108-94 victory over the Houston Rockets.

In the Eastern Conference play-offs, the Orlando Magic overpowered a weary Boston Celtics side 117-96 to take a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven series.

Bryant sunk a three-pointer to put the Lakers up 11 points with 2:20 left, and snuff out any hope of a snatched victory for the Rockets, who now trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

Lamar Odom added 16 points and 13 rebounds and Jordan Farmer recorded 12 points and seven assists in place of regular starting point guard Derek Fisher, who was suspended for an altercation with Houston's Luis Scola in game two.

Ron Artest had a team-high 25 points for the Rockets but was ejected for a second straight game after committing a flagrant foul on Lakers' big man Pau Gasol with 43 seconds remaining.

Yao Ming finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds before leaving the game in the final minutes with a lower leg injury, which may cloud Houston's preparations when they return home for game four on Sunday.

In the East, Rashard Lewis scored a game-high 28 points and Hedo Turkoglu shot 24 to help the home team Magic put away champions Boston Celtics.

Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 27 points, after a paltry three-point return in game two.

Orlando, who squandered a 28-point lead in game one before closing out a 95-90 nail-biter, held firm as Boston made a late charge to cut a 20-point deficit to trail 83-75 with 10:15 left.

The Magic stepped up a gear, however, to put the result beyond doubt with an offensive run that left them leading 109-87 with three minutes on the clock.