HOUSTON (AP) – Round 3 might be a more fitting label than Game 3 when the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets meet Friday night in the Western Conference semifinal series.

Ron Artest of the Rockets and Derek Fisher of the Lakers were ejected in separate incidents and a total of five technical fouls were called in Los Angeles’ testy 111-98 victory on Wednesday night that evened the series at 1-1.

On Thursday, the NBA suspended Fisher for Game 3 after he decked Luis Scola with a shoulder block as the Rockets forward set a pick. Houston coach Rick Adelman called the shot “malicious” and said the suspension was justified.

“There was just no excuse for anybody doing that,” Adelman said Thursday.

Later in Game 2, Kobe Bryant of the Lakers hit Artest with an elbow that wasn’t called. Artest pleaded to the referees, then ran across the court and got right in Bryant’s face, earning a technical and the ejection.

The league gave Bryant a flagrant foul one penalty on Thursday, meaning he will be suspended for one game if he gets three more flagrant foul ones during the postseason.

Artest was disappointed with the ruling on Bryant, saying NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson should look at the replay again.

Artest said Bryant landed his elbow above his shoulders, but Jackson said it hit Artest in the chest.

“If that was me throwing the elbow at Kobe, first of all, I would’ve hurt Kobe way more than he hurt me,” said Artest, who scored 25 points in Game 2. “I probably would’ve knocked him out with the same force he used against me. That’s why I’m not going to throw an elbow at somebody’s head. It’s dangerous. That goes to show me, that if Kobe hits me with an elbow, I can just get hit.”

So what’s in store for Game 3?

Shane Battier, who has guarded Bryant for most of the series, expects both teams to tone down the unnecessary roughness, because the referees will try to take immediate control.

“They’ll call a tight game, a lot tighter game than we’ve seen to this point,” Battier said.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson isn’t so sure the shoving will stop.

“They’re going to be physical, we’re going to have to meet that,” Jackson said. “I don’t think we have to retaliate, but we certainly have to be able to contest.”

Bryant, who scored 40 points in Game 2, said the Lakers are benefiting from the series’ ruggedness so far.

“I think it’s good for us,” Bryant said. “It elevates our play, it makes the game extremely emotional and kind of raises it to a fever pitch, which brings out the best in a lot of players.”

Artest said the Lakers want to prove they can handle physical play after losing to Boston in last year’s finals.

“They don’t want that to happen again,” Artest said. “Last year, that was the word on the street, that they got punked by the Celtics. This year, they came out tough, so I kind of respect them.”

Amid the confrontations in Game 2, Pau Gasol had 22 points and 14 rebounds and Lamar Odom added 11 rebounds, starting in place of struggling Andrew Bynum. The two helped hold Yao Ming to 12 points after Houston’s leading scorer had 28 in the series opener.

Houston committed 19 turnovers which Los Angeles turned into 23 points, one of Adelman’s main concerns heading into Game 3.

“We were really stagnant (Wednesday), we stood a lot,” Adelman said. “We’re turning the ball over because they’re very aggressive. They’re one of the best teams at guarding isolations, guarding post-ups. We have to get them out of their comfort level defensively.”

The Rockets, who took home-court advantage in the series with their Game 1 victory, went 33-8 at home during the regular season. But the Lakers compiled the league’s best road record (29-12), including two wins in Houston, so the Lakers are downplaying any edge the Rockets may have stolen.

“It’s 1-to-1,” Odom said. “If you consider home court an advantage, then I guess you could say so. But we can play on the road and I think that we have proved that the whole year.”

Adelman said Thursday that Von Wafer will play in Game 3 after the two argued and the guard was sent to the locker room during Game 2. Adelman said Wafer was just upset about being taking out of the game.

“He doesn’t have to like coming out,” Adelman said, “but it’s his job to accept that.”

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