Lakers show grit in 98-92 comeback win over Rockets

Lakers win consecutive games for the first time this season, defeating the Houston Rockets, 98-92

Lakers 98, Houston Rockets 92 (final)

Wesley Johnson helped the Lakers steal a road victory against one of the top teams in the Western Conference.

Johnson's steal from All-Star James Harden, turned into a three-point play with the ensuing layup and free throw, helping the Lakers clinch their second-straight victory with a win over the Rockets (9-3).

The Lakers improve to 3-9, winning their second-straight game since Nick Young returned from a thumb injury.

Houston center Dwight Howard was a late scratch with a knee injury. The Rockets started and finished the game with rookie Tarik Black, who had five points and nine rebounds.

James Harden had a big game, but Coach Byron Scott put Johnson on the scorer late, with center Jordan Hill coming in to help on the double team.

Harden finished with 24 points, seven assists and six turnovers.

Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 29 points, shooting 10 of 28 from the field (35.7%). Bryant also dished seven assists.

Carlos Boozer struggled with his jumper (5-for-15 shooting), but finished with a double-double (12 points and 13 rebounds). Hill scored 16 with 10 boards, while Ed Davis chipped in with six points and 11 boards off the bench.

The Lakers had 47 rebounds to the Rockets' 38, including a 14-6 advantage on the offensive glass.

Houston shot 40.5% from the field and 39.5% from three-point range (15 of 38). The Lakers converted 40.7% and 25.0% (5 of 20), respectively. Both teams took 23 free-throw attempts.

Young finished with 16, shooting six for 15 from the field. Johnson added nine points and two steals -- including his timely takeaway that led to the eventual winning basket.

The Lakers travel to Dallas to play the Mavericks (8-3) on Friday. The Rockets host the Mavericks on Saturday.

Rockets 75, Lakers 70 (end of third quarter)

The Lakers struggled to keep pace with the Rockets in the third quarter, falling behind by as many as 10 points.

A late push helped the Lakers trim the deficit in half.

Kobe Bryant finished the third with a game-high 20 points, but shot just 8 for 22 from the field (36.4%). Bryant missed nine of 11 shots in the period.

As a team, the Lakers hit 42.0%, getting 12 points from Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill.

The Rockets converted 13 three-pointers (on 28 attempts, 46.4%). James Harden shook off a slow start to score 17 points with six assists.

Rockets 51, Lakers 49 (halftime)

The Rockets maintained their two-point lead going into the half, holding off the Lakers and Kobe Bryant, who scored 10 points in the second quarter.

Kostas Papanikolaou led all scorers with 16 points off the bench. Houston shot 45.9% from the field while hitting nine of 19 three-point attempts (47.4%).

The Lakers hit 45.7% and 33.3% (4-12), respectively. The Rockets took 10 free throw attempts to just four for the Lakers.

Bryant led the Lakers with 13 points while Carlos Boozer added 11 points and nine rebounds in just 17 minutes.

James Harden had a relatively quiet four points on two shot attempts, but dished four assists for the Rockets. Jeremy Lin had three points and three assists, but four turnovers for the Lakers.

Rockets 23, Lakers 21 (end of first quarter)

Dwight Howard was a surprise late scratch, sitting out with a strained knee. With rookie Tarik Black starting in Howard's place, the Rockets were able to finish out the first quarter with a two-point lead.

Carlos Boozer and Kostas Papanikolaou led all scorers with eight points each.

Kobe Bryant hit just one of six attempts for three points. James Harden didn't score.

The Lakers shot just 34.8% from the field while Houston hit 47.4%, including 50% from three-point range (5-10).

Pregame

The Lakers (2-9) have just their second shot at a winning streak, when they visit the Houston Rockets (9-2) on Wednesday.

The Rockets have the second-best record in the league -- the Lakers the second-worst.

The Lakers will play without Ryan Kelly (hamstring), Wayne Ellington (personal matter), Julius Randle (leg) and Steve Nash (back).  Houston forward Terrence Jones is out with a leg injury.

For an in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers at Houston Rockets.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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