Wednesday , Apr , 28 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Lakers try to dismiss Rockets

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – The Los Angeles Lakers try to eliminate
Houston from the playoffs tonight, as they welcome the Rockets to the Staples
Center for Game 5 of their Western Conference quarterfinal set.

The Lakers, who won Games 1 and 2 in front of their home crowd, lead the best-
of-seven series 3-1.

After losing Game 3 at Houston, the Lakers beat the Rockets, 92-88, in
overtime Sunday in Game 4 at the Toyota Center. Forty-year-old forward Karl
Malone scored 30 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead LA to the victory.

Shaquille O’Neal finished 17 points and 12 boards in Sunday’s win for the
Lakers, while Kobe Bryant scored six of his 18 points in overtime.

Jim Jackson scored 16 points and pulled down a career-high 20 rebounds in the
loss for Houston. Steve Francis led the Rockets with 17 points, while
Cuttino Mobley finished with 16 points.

Bryant will be spending the day in court in Colorado for his rape trial
hearing and is expected to fly back to Los Angeles as soon as possible, but he
may be late for the start of the game.

The Rockets have comeback from a 3-1 deficit once in franchise history. In
1995, Houston beat the Phoenix Suns in seven games in the Western Conference
semifinals.

Houston has lost three of its last four contests when facing elimination.

LA is 28-0 all-time when leading a best-of-seven series 3-1.

The Lakers are 3-2 in their last five Game 5s in the postseason, while the
Rockets have lost three straight Game 5s.

The last time Houston won a playoff series was in 1997, when it ousted the
Seattle SuperSonics in seven games in the West semifinals. The Rockets would
go on to lose to the Utah Jazz, 4-2, in the conference finals.

This is the seventh time that the teams have met in the playoffs. The squads
are battling for the sixth time in the first round, as the Lakers eliminated
the Rockets in three of the previous five first-round meetings.

The Lakers and Rockets have met only once before in a best-of-seven series, as
Houston dismissed LA in five games in 1986.

If Houston wins tonight, Game 6 would be played on Saturday at the Toyota
Center.

HOU LAL