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Los Angeles gained control by outscoring Houston 23-6 during the final six minutes of the first quarter. Bryant had eight points, making three straight shots at one point. Odom sank a 3-pointer and Farmar another 3 at the buzzer for a 35-24 lead.
With Bryant sitting out at the start of the second quarter, the Lakers didn't lose any of their intensity, going on an 8-0 run to push the lead to 43-24. Gasol made a hook shot and two free throws, Odom made two free throws and Sasha Vujacic blocked a shot by Von Wafer, raced down the court and took a pass from Gasol for a slam dunk.
With Houston going cold, the Lakers piled it on, taking a 64-35 lead on Bryant's 3-pointer with 1:31 before halftime. It was 64-39 at the break.
Notes: Odom didn't start, but entered the game late in the first quarter in place of Bynum. Odom had been listed as questionable with a bruised back, the result of taking a hard fall on Sunday. ... Luke Walton had six rebounds off the bench for the Lakers. ... Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea played the national anthem. He didn't remove his black hat.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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