Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/8/13
HOUSTON -- Guards James Harden scored 31 points and Jeremy Lin added 19 points as the Houston Rockets took advantage of the undermanned Los Angeles Lakers and ran to a 125-112 on Tuesday night at Toyota Center. Without starting center Dwight Howard and power forward Pau Gasol, in addition to reserve center Jordan Hill, the Lakers turned to their backcourt tandem of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash to carry their offense. Metta World Peace provided an assist with 24 points, but the Rockets' balanced attack gradually wore down the shorthanded Lakers (15-19). Harden's 31 points matched the franchise record set by Moses Malone of 13 consecutive games with 25-plus points. He added nine assists and six rebounds to his ledger and benefitted from strong efforts delivered by Chandler Parsons (20 points) Lin (six rebounds, five assists, four steals) and Carlos Delfino, whose 19 points paced a bench that totaled 44 points. While the Rockets (21-14) extended their winning streak to five games -- their second streak of that length in less than a month -- the Lakers stalled yet again. Bryant and Nash combined for 36 points and 17 assists, but the Lakers' depleted bench offered little in terms of support. The Rockets grabbed their first lead at 47-46 on a Delfino 3-pointer at the 4:48 mark of the second quarter, yet the Lakers maintained control until the Rockets fashioned a 21-4 run down the stretch of the third quarter. The Lakers, having torched the Rockets' defense, mustered only four free throws during that span as the Rockets drained four 3-pointers before Harden completed a three-point play for a 94-82 lead with 1:09 left. The Lakers opted not to crater without Howard and Gasol, and from the opening tip they played with energy and enthusiasm. Before the Rockets could settle in the Lakers led 18-4 with World Peace draining consecutive 3-pointers during that opening salvo. The Rockets finally awoke from their slumber, but the Lakers maintained their double-digit advantage until the Rockets bench provided a spark late in the first. NOTES: With Howard (torn labrum, right shoulder), Gasol (concussion) and Hill (labrum tear, left hip/herniated disc) unavailable, the Lakers have turned to Robert Sacre as their primary big man. Sacre was inactive Sunday night for the Lakers' loss to the Nuggets as he was on assignment in the D-League. "It's good that he got a couple games under his belt so that when he comes in he wouldn't have sat there (on the bench) for a month," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "That was good. That worked out."... Lakers guard Steve Nash had 10 assists and passed the 10,000-assist mark, joining John Stockton (15,806), Jason Kidd (11,969), Mark Jackson (10,334) and Magic Johnson (10,141) as the only players in NBA history with 10,000. ... The Rockets grabbed 21 offensive rebounds in their 107-105 victory over the Lakers on Dec. 4, 2012. "Normally we talk about getting stops and rebounding the ball because a stop is incomplete until you rebound," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "That's one of three things we talk about the most."
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