Lakers Advance to Western Conference Finals

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and the Los Angeles
Lakers emphatically silenced the doubters and the Houston Rockets,
winning Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals 89-70 on

With Gasol scoring 21 points and grabbing 18 rebounds, the Lakers looked like the conference's top-seeded team, not the maddeningly inconsistent one that was pushed to the decisive final game by the undermanned Rockets.

The Lakers dominated the paint on both ends, forcing the Rockets into turnovers and bad shots, and owning the backboards. They had an 8-0 lead a few minutes in and widened it to 25 points on Gasol's jump hook shortly before halftime.

The Lakers, trying to reach the NBA finals for the second straight year, host the opener of the conference finals against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night.