NBA: Houston 95, LA Lakers 80
Aaron Brooks and Luis Scola halted a third-quarter charge Thursday and Houston downed the Los Angeles Lakers 95-80 to force a Game 7 in their playoff series.
Houston won for the second time in three games without center Yao Ming, who is out for the remainder of the playoffs with a broken foot.
The one loss without Yao, however, was a 40-point crushing in Los Angeles and that is where the Rockets must play the deciding game of the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday.
The winner of that game will take on the Denver Nuggets for the opportunity to play for the NBA title.
Houston limited the Lakers to 15 points in the first period and took a 52-36 advantage at halftime.
Los Angeles then opened the third period on a 16-2 run that brought the Lakers within two points and appeared to have them ready to close out the Rockets.
Houston, however, fought off the surge, with Brooks hitting a 3-pointer that gave the Rockets a 62-54 lead with 4:25 to go in the third quarter. Scola finished off the period with a jumper that put Houston in front 74-65. The Lakers did not significantly threaten in the fourth period.
Brooks finished with 26 points and Scola had 24. Carl Landry added 15, including a dunk that ignited the crowd with 6:56 to play and gave the Rockets a 10-point lead.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 32 points while receiving little help from his teammates. The Lakers shot just 35 percent from the field.