The Lakers (12-33) lost their eighth straight game on Sunday night, falling to the Houston Rockets (31-14). Here are five takeaways from their 99-87 defeat at Staples Center.
1. James Harden torched all comers, scoring 37 points in just over 35 minutes. The all-star hit nine of 10 free throws and four of 11 from three-point range, dished five assists and collected eight rebounds.
The Lakers did force six turnovers from Harden but that didn't really make a dent in the final outcome.
Wesley Johnson seemed to have some success against Harden, but the Rockets, who were playing without Dwight Howard (ankle), rode their available star from start to finish.
2. Nick Young played only 8 1/2 minutes, sitting throughout the entire second half. Coach Byron Scott was unhappy with his play and didn't like Young's explanation on a missed defensive assignment.
"I asked him, 'What were you thinking on this play.' The answer he gave me, I couldn't figure it out," said Scott after the game. "I just felt with his body language, that he didn't want to play tonight -- so I chose not to play him."
The Lakers coach said the benching was specific to Young's actions on Sunday, nothing cumulative.
3. The Lakers aren't winning ballgames, but their biggest issues earlier in the season were on the defensive end. Over their last 12 games, they've held their opponents under 100 points eight times -- including Sunday against the Rockets.
Now if they can just figure out how to fix the offense too.
4. Jordan Clarkson's second NBA start came against a noted defender: Patrick Beverley. The rookie scored eight points on just two-of-10 shooting, with two assists and five turnovers.
"He's going to have some ups and downs," Scott said. "The way [the Rockets] played tonight, they're going to try to speed him up, so we tried to give him a warning that you have to be poised and patient."
Clarkson said, multiple times, that he'll look at video of the game to learn from his mistakes.
Scott seems set on sticking with Clarkson, and the team's current starting lineup configuration, for about 15 to 20 games -- although Tarik Black could end up taking Robert Sacre's spot at center.
5. Jeremy Lin returned to action after Scott chose not to play him on Friday against the San Antonio Spurs. In 28 minutes off the bench, Lin scored 14 points on two-of-nine shooting from the field while converting 10 of 14 free throws.
"I'm thankful I played tonight," Lin said. "Definitely [not playing] would change your perspective on things or allow me to take a step back. I'm just thankful I got on the court and just played my heart out."