Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Reigning MVP Kobe Bryant scored 23 points and the Lakers came away with a convincing 111-82 win over the Houston Rockets to remain unbeaten on the young season.
Pau Gasol had 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who improved to 5-0. Andrew Bynum totaled 13 points and seven boards, while Jordan Farmar added 16 points and six assists off the bench.
Los Angeles overcame a sluggish first quarter and held the Rockets to just 34 points in the second half.
"In the first quarter, we let it slip a little," said Bynum. "We turned the ball over, but we were able to hang in there and play good defense in the fourth quarter. Defense was the reason we won the game."
Aaron Brooks scored 20 points to pace the Rockets, who have dropped three of their last four games after starting the season with three straight wins. Luis Scola and Yao Ming both collected 12 points, with the former pulling down nine boards and the latter finishing with eight caroms. Tracy McGrady was limited to three points on 1-of-11 shooting.
"They've been good all season, but we're better than what we showed," said Houston head coach Rick Adelman. "It's disappointing. They ran over us in the fourth quarter."
A Carl Landry jumper put Houston up 41-28 four minutes into the second quarter before the Lakers took control, going on a 22-7 run to close the half. Bynum converted two from the foul line to bring Los Angeles within 47-46, then Gasol followed with a basket and the Lakers carried a slim 50-48 lead into the break.
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Houston trailed 55-54 after Ron Artest nailed a three-pointer, but Bryant countered with a pair of buckets to make it a five-point game with 6:29 to play in the third quarter. The teams continued to trade shots and Los Angeles went into the fourth quarter ahead 72-65.
The Lakers pulled away in the final stanza. The lead reached 92-73 when Sasha Vujacic made a technical free throw with 6:44 to play and Houston didn't pose a threat the rest of the way.
McGrady drained a three-pointer to extend the Rockets to a 16-7 lead with 5 1/2 minutes remaining in the first quarter, and the visiting club held a 28-16 edge going into the second.