Houston Rockets guard James Harden shoots over Lakers forward Antawn Jamison… (Scott Halleran / Getty Images )
Rockets 125 - Lakers 112 (end of regulation)
The Lakers gave up at least 28 in each quarter to the Rockets, including a 38-point third period. With no Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill and Steve Blake, the Lakers played well offensively, taking a three-point lead into the half.
Houston scored at will the rest of the way and while the Lakers shot well (47.3% from the field, 45.2% from behind the arc and 92.3% from the line), they just didn't have the firepower to match the Rockets.
James Harden led all scorers with 31 points with nine assists. Chandler Parsons had 20, Jeremy Lin and Carlos Delfino scored 19 each and Toney Douglas had 11. Houston shot 55.2% from the field.
The Lakers were led by Metta World Peace with 24 points. Kobe Bryant had just 20 on 8-22 shooting with seven assists. Steve Nash, recording his 10,000th career assist before the end of the first half, scored 16 with 10 assists.
Robert Sacre had a career night in his first real opportunity to play significant minutes, with 10 points and four blocks. Darius Morris and Jodie Meeks both had 12.
The Lakers drop to 15-19, losing their fourth straight. The Rockets win their fifth to improve to 21-14. The Lakers will visit the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.
Rockets 97 - Lakers 88 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers committed too many early fouls, getting into the penalty early. The Rockets feasted at the line, and then they got hot from outside.
Houston put up 37 points as the Lakers scored in bunches but less consistently with 26 in the third. Houston took a nine-point lead into the fourth after a 16-2 run. James Harden led all scorers with 26 points (along with seven assists). The Rockets shot 55.9% from the field and 8-18 from three (44.4%).
The Lakers got 18 points from Metta World Peace along with 16 from Steve Nash. Robert Sacre scored a career-high 10 points through three quarters while blocking four shots (also a personal best).
The Lakers shot 48.5% from the field but struggled to get consistent stops in the third.
Lakers 62 - Rockets 59 (halftime)
Steve Nash got the 10,000th assist of his career, dishing to Antawn Jamison with 29.1 seconds left in the second quarter. Nash had 12 points and five assists in the first half as the Lakers played at a fast pace.
The Rockets kept the pressure on throughout, taking a brief lead but the Lakers responded to close ahead by three at the half.
James Harden had 15 points while Chandler Parsons chipped in 13. Metta World Peace scored 13 for the Lakers.
Lakers 34 - Rockets 28 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers had no problem scoring against the Houston Rockets in the first quarter Tuesday night, pouring in 34 points. Despite Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill and Steve Blake out with various injuries, the Lakers got scoring from eight players, led by Metta World Peace's eight points, while shooting 44.4% from the field (55.6% from three).
The Rockets responded to a 14-point deficit, to finish the quarter within six, led by seven from Chandler Parsons. Houston had five early turnovers and took just one free throw. The Lakers had two turnovers and took six attempts from the line.
Houston isn't known for defense this year, but as the highest scoring team in the league, the Lakers are going to need to keep up the pace to get a short-handed, underdog victory.
The struggling Lakers (15-18) visit the surging Houston Rockets (20-14) on Tuesday night. Injuries have Dwight Howard (shoulder), Pau Gasol (concussion), Jordan Hill (hip) and Steve Blake (abdominal surgery) out of commission.
The Lakers will have a lot to deal with in Houston, the league's highest scoring team at 106.2 a game. The Rockets aren't known for their defense but the Lakers may not have enough healthy players on the roster to put significant pressure on Houston.
The backcourt of James Harden and Jeremy Lin is extremely potent while Chandler Parsons has already burnt the Lakers this season.
Can a short-handed Lakers squad break their three-game losing streak? That may be too much to ask...
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers at Rockets.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.