Lakers Ground Rockets 88-79 for Fourth Straight Win

LOS ANGELES — Andrew Bynum scored
11 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter when the Los Angeles Lakers
rallied to beat the Houston Rockets 88-79 on Tuesday night for their
fourth consecutive victory.

Kobe Bryant added 22 points, but had
just three field goals in the second half when he picked up four fouls.
Lamar Odom came up one assist shy of a triple-double, with 17 points
and 19 rebounds in the absence of injured Pau Gasol despite a bout of
gastroenteritis.

Two nights after their
highest-scoring game of season, a 131-96 win over Dallas, the Lakers
avenged one of their three home losses with their fewest points in a
win this season.

Ron Artest had seven points and seven rebounds for the Lakers after missing five games because of a concussion.

Reserve Carl Landry led the Rockets with 19 points, while Aaron Brooks added 18, Luis Scola 15 and former Laker Trevor Ariza 12.

Houston twice got within two points
in the fourth quarter only to have the Lakers regroup and hit key
baskets to keep the lead they owned the entire game. Shane Battier
sandwiched 3-pointers around a basket by Scola to draw the Rockets to
73-71.

Odom responded with a three-point
play, Bryant made a fadeaway jumper and Bynum's hook shot extended the
Lakers' lead to 80-73 with 2:09 remaining.

That was part of a 15-8 game-ending run for Los Angeles, which lost to Houston 101-91 at home on Nov. 15.

The Lakers led 53-41, matching their
largest lead of the game, on a 3-pointer by Artest. But the Rockets
outscored them 14-6, with Scola scoring seven, to get to 59-55 heading
into the fourth.

Bryant picked up three quick fouls in the third before sitting down.

He earned his fourth a minute into
the final quarter and gave a cold stare to referee Derek Richardson
after Ariza's running jumper cut the Lakers' lead to two.

With Artest returning to the starting lineup, the Lakers zipped to a 12-point lead in the first quarter.

Bryant sat down for a breather early
in the second, when the Rockets closed to 28-24. But he soon returned
and scored nine of the Lakers' final 13 points, extending their lead to
41-33 at halftime.

Notes
The Lakers will be the
visitors Wednesday night against the Clippers, who are 1-9 in the
teams' last 10 meetings. The Clippers have won two straight overall.
The Lakers won 99-92 on opening night and are seeking their third
consecutive season sweep of their hallway rivals. … The Rockets fell
to 0-2 on their three-game trip and have lost three straight on the
road.

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