Lakers even series

Another rough-and-tumble game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets turned bloody. This time, though, the Lakers defended their home court.

Houston Rockets’ Yao Ming

Lakers 111 Rockets 98

LOS ANGELES — Another rough-and-tumble game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets turned bloody. This time, though, the Lakers defended their home court.

Kobe Bryant scored 40 points, Pau Gasol added 22 points and 14 rebounds and the Lakers won Game 2 111-98 on Wednesday night to even the Western Conference semifinal series.

Ron Artest, one of two players ejected in the game, scored 25 points and Carl Landry added a career playoff-high 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who overcame a 14-point deficit in the first half only to trail most of the second half.

Game 3 is Friday night in Houston.

Houston’s Yao Ming finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds after picking up three fouls in the first half.

Emotions boiled over in the second half, with Derek Fisher of the Lakers and Artest getting ejected and technical fouls assessed to Bryant, Artest, Luis Scola, Luke Walton and Lamar Odom, who had 11 rebounds.

“It’s the playoffs,” Bryant said, “this is what it’s about.”

Artest was sent off the court by referee Joe Crawford with 6:57 remaining in the game after he pointed across the court at Bryant and made a gesture near his throat. Artest complained that he was elbowed in the throat by Bryant under the basket.

“We are playing basketball, there is a lot of contact taking place,” Bryant said. “If you are going to be physical you have to expect to get physical back.”

The final 30 seconds of the third quarter turned into a foul fest. Scola and teammates Odom and Walton all were hit with technicals after they jawed at the Lakers’ end of the court.

Moments later, Fisher was called for a flagrant foul when he collided with Scola as the Rockets brought the ball up the court.

Scola fell to the court and Fisher received a bloody cut on his head near his right ear. Scola made both free throws and Houston retained possession.

There was sideline drama, too. Houston’s Von Wafer was escorted to the locker room at the end of the third quarter after he was seen exchanging words with coach Rick Adelman.

Blood ran in Monday’s series opener, won by the Rockets. Houston’s Shane Battier had blood streaming down the left side of his face after catching an inadvertent elbow from Sasha Vujacic.

“Right from the opening tip we wanted to be aggressive, get after it a bit,” Bryant said.

“We are being tested and this is fun.”

Celtics 112 Magic 94

BOSTON — Rajon Rondo had 15 points, 18 assists and 11 rebounds for his third triple-double of the playoffs, and Eddie House scored a career high-shattering 31 points on Wednesday night to lead the Boston Celtics to a 112-94 victory over the Orlando Magic and even the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Dwight Howard had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Rashard Lewis had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Magic, who stole Game 1 and home-court advantage on Monday night despite blowing almost all of a 28-point lead.

Game 3 is Friday night in Orlando.

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