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Originally published Monday, May 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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NBA Playoffs | Aaron Brooks leads host Rockets past Lakers

With center Yao Ming out with a broken foot, the Houston Rockets had no chance to beat the Los Angeles Lakers. Right? Wrong. Aaron Brooks, a graduate...

HOUSTON — With center Yao Ming out with a broken foot, the Houston Rockets had no chance to beat the Los Angeles Lakers. Right?

Wrong.

Aaron Brooks, a graduate of Franklin High School in Seattle, scored a career-high 34 points to help the Rockets beat the Lakers 99-87 Sunday to even their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series at two games apiece.

Brooks, who played college ball at Oregon and is in his second pro season, became Houston's starting point guard when the team dealt Rafer Alston to Orlando at the trade deadline.

He faced countless questions about his inexperience before the playoffs began, but keeps showing skeptics he can handle the job. He scored 27 points in Houston's Game 1 victory in Portland in the first round and had 14 points in the second half of the Rockets' 100-92 victory in the opener of this series.

Brooks deflected credit to teammates after Game 4.

"I'm lucky to have these guys," he said. "It makes it a lot easier on me."

Houston's Shane Battier made five three-point shots and scored 23 points.

"I think everyone but us got the memo that we weren't supposed to show up today without Yao," Battier said.

Pau Gasol scored 30 points and Kobe Bryant had a quiet 15 for the Lakers, who looked lethargic from the outset.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson warned his team about taking the Rockets too lightly.

"They didn't anticipate the energy that they were going to come with," Jackson said. "But you say as much as you can as a coach and then the players have to execute and do it on the floor."

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Celtics 95, at Magic 94

The defending champions aren't giving up their crown easily. Glen Davis made a 21-foot jumper as time expired to help Boston defeat Orlando to even their East semifinal series at two games apiece.

Davis took a pass on the wing from Paul Pierce and swished the jumper over defender Rashard Lewis, a former Sonic.

"Our best player trusted the pass," Boston coach Doc Rivers said of Pierce, who scored a game-high 27 points.

"Big Baby" Davis, who scored 21 points, relished his newfound celebrity.

"This is really neat," the ex-Louisiana State standout said. "This is my first time, so bear with me."

Lewis, who scored 22 points, made two free throws to put the Magic ahead with 11.3 seconds to play.

Dwight Howard had 23 points and 17 rebounds for Orlando.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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