Trevor Ariza notched 14 points off the Lakers' bench, Vladimir Radmanovic donated 12 points and six rebounds and Pau Gasol joined Andrew Bynum with 11 points. Lamar Odom returned from a three-game absence due to a knee injury to score 10 points in just over 27 1/2 minutes for LA, which has won four in a row and 10 of 11 overall.
Von Wafer led Houston with 23 points and Carl Landry added 21 points and eight rebounds. Yao Ming notched 19 points and 17 rebounds and Rafer Alston added 11 points and six assists for the Rockets, who saw their three-game winning streak come to an end.
The two teams played to a draw over the first 24 minutes with the game tied at 54-54 by halftime.
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Landry's layup with just under seven minutes to play in the third period boosted the Rockets to a 65-61 edge. The Lakers took the lead moments later at 68-67 on Bryant's jumper with just under five minutes on the clock, but Houston rallied back with seven consecutive points, capped by Yao's jumper for a 74-68 Rockets advantage.
Houston led, 82-78, going into the fourth and didn't trail until the Lakers took the lead with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter, as Bryant's pull-up jumper pushed the visitors in front, 95-93. Houston again responded to take a 100-99 edge on Shane Battier's three with 47 ticks to play. However, Bryant connected from long distance with 27 seconds remaining to put the Lakers ahead to stay, 102-100.
Alston missed a jumper and a pair of free throws before Gasol made 1-of-2 from the charity stripe with seven seconds left. Yao missed a jumper on the other end, and Gasol buried two more free throws for the final margin.