LOS ANGELES (AP) — James Harden had 37 points and eight rebounds, and the Houston Rockets rolled to a 99-87 victory over the Lakers on Sunday night, sending Los Angeles to its eighth straight defeat.
Harden hit four 3-pointers, and the NBA’s leading scorer added five assists in the Rockets’ third victory in four games.
Josh Smith and Jason Terry had 11 points apiece as Houston cruised to its fourth straight road victory over the Lakers even without Dwight Howard, who sat out after injuring his right ankle two days ago.
Carlos Boozer scored 18 points for the Lakers, who are on their longest losing streak in nearly 10 years.
The Lakers weren’t terribly competitive until the fourth quarter of their latest game without Kobe Bryant, who could be out for the season.
Houston took a 25-point lead in the third quarter and coasted to the win, allowing the Lakers to creep within 89-78 before Harden returned and kept the Rockets on top. Harden scored at least 33 points in his fourth straight game.
Los Angeles hadn’t lost eight straight games since March 2005. The Lakers missed the playoffs that season for the only time in Bryant’s career before last year.
Nick Young played just nine minutes for the Lakers, getting benched for the second half. The entertaining shooting guard hadn’t played in a game without scoring since he joined his hometown team before last season.
Rookie Jordan Clarkson had eight points on 2-for-10 shooting and five turnovers in his second start for the Lakers, while Jeremy Lin had 14 points and six assists off the bench after being a healthy scratch in Friday’s loss at San Antonio.
The Lakers could find out Monday whether Bryant needs season-ending surgery on his torn right rotator cuff. Coach Byron Scott hasn’t given up optimism for an eventual return by the third-leading scorer in NBA history.
“I think we all hold out hope that it goes well, (and) they say he doesn’t need surgery or anything like that,” Scott said. “Maybe rehabilitation for a few weeks or a month or whatever the case may be. But that’s the positive part of me hoping that happens.”
Rockets: Joey Dorsey started in Howard’s place, scoring four points. … Coach Kevin McHale is uncertain when Howard will return to the lineup. At least his absence spared him the relentless booing he’ll likely face from Lakers fans for the rest of his career after he spurned the club in free agency in 2013. … Harden is a Los Angeles native who attended Artesia High School.
Lakers: Scott showed up slightly late to Staples Center after forgetting that the Lakers’ Sunday game time is an hour earlier than every other night. The 53-year-old coach claimed he “had a senior moment.” … Los Angeles opened a three-game homestand. … Rookie big man Tarik Black, who was waived by Houston last month, had three points and five rebounds for the Lakers. He had missed the last two games with a sprained right ankle.
Rockets: Host Dallas on Wednesday.
Lakers: Host Washington on Tuesday.