LOS ANGELES -- Shocking as it might sound, the Los Angeles Lakers broke out of a shooting slump Sunday night.
Shocking because they haven't lost a game so far this season.
"The momentum of this game just turned upside down," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson, whose team outscored the Rockets 95-50 after falling behind 32-16. "We created more opportunities in the second half, we moved the ball better."
The Lakers, who shot 43.5 percent in their first four games, wound up shooting 53.2 percent against Houston after going 5-for-17 in the first quarter.
"It's all a matter of rhythm," Bryant said. "We were a little rusty starting the game. We have a lot of weapons, we know how to use them. We move the ball and whoever gets it gets it."
The Rockets trailed by only seven points entering the fourth quarter, but Farmar scored eight points, Gasol and Lamar Odom added four each, and the Lakers shot 9-for-10 during a 22-10 run to start the period, giving them a 94-75 lead. They wound up outscoring Houston 39-17 in the final 12 minutes.
"No lead is safe in this league," Farmar said. "I mean, players are so talented that 20 points can be overcome in a matter of minutes. It's just a matter of us playing basketball and sitting down on the defensive end and locking it in and getting it done."
Aaron Brooks, a reserve, paced Houston (4-3) with 20 points and four assists. Yao Ming, Luis Scola and Carl Landry had 12 points apiece for the Rockets, who shot 37.8 percent and were outrebounded 50-36.
"You have to play as a team and we did not play as a team," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. "I'm sure you give them credit because they have been really good all year."
The Lakers have won their five games by an average of 22.4 points.
"We are better than that, but we have to find answers," Adelman said. "You have to work a little harder. You can't do it on your own. We have a lot of work to do. I don't know what else to say."
Houston's Tracy McGrady, a two-time NBA scoring champion and seven-time All-Star, had his second successive brutal shooting performance at Staples Center, going 1-for-11 for three points two days after missing all five of his field-goal attempts and scoring two points in a 92-83 victory against the Clippers.
"I just couldn't get any rhythm," he said. "I think they did a great job of really making it tough for me. Every time I posted up, they had a couple of extra guys coming over.
"These were probably the worst two games of my career. But when you play a long time in this league, you're going to have some games like that. Unfortunately, I had two in a row. But it's a long season."
Ron Artest also had an off night, shooting 2-for-11 and scoring eight points.
"Obviously, nobody's happy about the loss, but I feel good about where we're going to be at," he said. "I feel confident about this team. I really believe that we're going to be there at the end."
The Rockets were within one point before Bryant scored six and Derek Fisher added four during a 12-3 run that gave the Lakers a 67-57 lead with four minutes left in the third quarter. Houston wasn't closer than seven points after that.
Brooks entered with 2:25 left in the first quarter and scored 13 of the Rockets' 15 points in a span of 5:15, helping them build their 16-point lead. It was 41-28 when the Lakers started rolling, outscoring Houston 22-7 to finish the second quarter for a 50-48 halftime advantage, and they were on top the rest of the way.
Rafer Alston scored all seven of his points and Yao added six during a 20-3 run that gave the Rockets a 22-9 lead, and it was 28-16 entering the second quarter. Since they shot 5-for-17 and committed eight turnovers in the opening period, the Lakers were fortunate they didn't trail by more.
Pretty soon, they didn't trail at all.
|Yao Ming tries to defend Kobe Bryant, but the All-Star guard still pours in 23 points. (Getty Images)|
|L.A. Lakers (5-0) «||16||34||22||39||111|
|HOU:A. Brooks 20 Pts
HOU:L. Scola 9 Reb
HOU:T. McGrady 4 Ast
|LAL:K. Bryant 23 Pts
LAL:P. Gasol 15 Reb
LAL:J. Farmar 6 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|T. McGrady, SG||32||1-11||0-0||2||4||0||3|
|R. Artest, SF||32||2-11||2-4||4||2||3||8|
|L. Scola, PF||32||3-9||6-6||9||0||1||12|
|R. Alston, PG||28||3-9||0-0||3||1||1||7|
|Y. Ming, C||27||6-11||0-4||8||0||3||12|
|C. Landry, PF||26||6-10||0-0||6||2||2||12|
|A. Brooks, PG||25||8-15||1-1||1||4||1||20|
|L. Head, PG||15||2-6||3-3||1||1||1||7|
|B. Barry, SG||11||0-0||1-1||0||1||0||1|
|C. Hayes, PF||8||0-0||0-0||2||2||3||0|
|J. Dorsey, PF||2||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|S. Francis, PG||Did Not Play|
|S. Battier, SF||Did Not Play|
|V. Wafer, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|A. Bynum, C||34||4-10||5-6||7||2||4||13|
|K. Bryant, SG||33||10-17||2-4||3||3||3||23|
|P. Gasol, C||33||7-10||6-6||15||3||1||20|
|D. Fisher, PG||22||3-10||0-0||3||2||2||6|
|V. Radmanovic, SF||20||1-4||0-0||4||2||1||3|
|J. Farmar, PG||26||6-9||1-2||3||6||1||16|
|T. Ariza, SF||25||2-6||3-4||8||3||1||8|
|L. Odom, PF||24||4-8||0-0||4||2||3||9|
|S. Vujacic, SG||15||3-3||1-1||2||3||2||9|
|C. Mihm, C||2||1-1||0-0||1||0||1||2|
|L. Walton, SF||2||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|J. Powell, SF||2||1-1||0-0||0||0||0||2|
|D. Mbenga, C||Did Not Play|
|Y. Sun, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|