The Houston Rockets came into L.A. on a two-game losing streak, but got 25 points from James Harden and 16 points and 15 rebounds from Dwight Howard to defeat the Lakers for the second time in a week, 107-87.
The rockets started off the game hot from downtown, getting triples from Harden, Trevor Ariza, and Patrick Beverley to spring out to a 19-6 lead they would never relinquish. The Lakers woke up a little bit, but the Rockets still finished the first quarter shooting 5-8 from deep and held a 29-18 lead.
A 9-0 Lakers run to start the second quarter got L.A. to within 4 points, but they would get no closer, as Harden carried the Rockets down the stretch of the first half to 52-39 lead at the break.
The Beard had 17 points at intermission, while Dwight had 6 points and 9 rebounds and also spearheaded the Rockets' much-maligned defense into holding the Lakers to 34.8 percent shooting from the field for the half.
Howard did quickly obtain his fourth foul at the start of the third period and had to take a seat, but Terrence Jones stepped in and knocked down 13 points in the quarter to help hold the Rockets' lead.
Kobe Bryant continued his better play of late, keeping the Lakers in the game by knocking down 6 points in the third, including a long jumper, a nice drive and a thunderous dunk on Clint Capela, but the Rockets maintained a 78-68 lead as the frame drew to a close.
The Lakers did go on a 6-0 run at the beginning of the fourth to get within 5 points at 81-76, but Harden and Howard stepped on the gas one more time to increase the lead to the final 20-point margin.
In addition to a good night by the Rockets two superstars, Houston also received 16 points and 4 rebounds from Jones, 13 points apiece from Ariza and Beverley, and Clint Capela finished with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks, as 6 Rockets finished in double figures.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 22 points on a surprisingly efficient 9-16 from the field.
This was the Rockets' second 20-point plus victory over the Lakers in less than a week, as Houston finally seems to have found a team they can beat consistently, though everyone beats the 4-22 Lakers consistently these days.
Kudos to all who stayed up for this one, especially those of you on the East coast like me.
The Rockets go for two in a row on Saturday night at home against the Clippers, and once again look to get back to .500.