James Harden has 37 points to lead Rockets past Lakers

James Harden scored 37 points for the Rockets as the Lakers lost their eighth straight

The Lakers rallied in the fourth quarter, trimming a 25-point deficit to the Houston Rockets to 11, but ultimately fell short to lose their eighth consecutive game, 99-87, on Sunday evening at Staples Center.

Playing without center Dwight Howard, the Rockets were led by James Harden, who scored 37 points in 33 minutes. Harden also had eight rebounds and five assists.

Jeremy Lin, Ronnie Price, Wesley Johnson, Ed Davis and Tarik Black spearheaded the Lakers' late, albeit futile, run. Black returned from a two-game absence after spraining his ankle in a loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Coach Byron Scott stuck with a starting lineup of Jordan Clarkson, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Kelly, Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre.

Clarkson struggled, scoring eight points on two-of-10 shooting.  Carlos Boozer led the Lakers with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Lin finished with 14 points, making 10 of 14 free throws.

Ellington scored 13 while Hill each added 10.  Nick Young played only nine minutes, going scoreless on two attempts.

The Rockets shot 40.2% from the field, hitting 13 of 44 from three-point range (29.5%).  None of Houston's starters hit double figures aside from Harden.  Josh Smith and Jason Terry scored 11 apiece off the bench while reserve Corey Brewer added 10.

The Lakers shot 43.% from the field but missed 12 of 13 from behind the arc (7.7%).  They also turned the ball over 21 times to Houston's 14.

Kobe Bryant sat out, potentially lost for the season with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. Julius Randle (leg) and Steve Nash (back) are both out for the year.  Houston played without Howard and starting forward Terrence Jones (leg).

With the loss the Lakers fall to 12-33 on the season.  They'll host the Washington Wizards (30-15) on Tuesday night. The Rockets (30-14) return home to play the Dallas Mavericks (30-15) on Wednesday.

Rockets 80, Lakers 60 (end of third quarter)

Houston won the third consecutive quarter of the game tonight to extend its lead to 20 points heading into the fourth quarter.

James Harden's dominance continued --  he has 32 points scored on 11-of-16 shooting to go with seven rebounds and five assists.

The Lakers made just 39.7% of their shots from the field, with 16 turnovers.  Carlos Boozer leads the team with 16 points; Jordan Hill has 10.

The Rockets shot 44.22% from the field while making 11 of 33 three-point attempts (33.3%).  The Lakers hit just one long-range shott in 11 tries (9.1%).

Harden was the only player on his team in double figures, although Patrick Beverley, Trevor Ariza and Josh Smith each scored nine.

Rockets 52, Lakers 36 (halftime)

James Harden continued to be a problem for the Lakers, scoring 20 points in 17 minutes on eight-of-10 shooting.

Houston made eight of 18 (44.4%) three-point attempts, holding a comfortable lead throughout the first half.

Carlos Boozer scored 10 off the bench and Jordan Hill added eight to lead the Lakers, who shot 36.4% from the field.

The Lakers turned the ball over 12 times in the first half while missing all eight three-point attempts.

Houston had nine turnovers.  After Harden, no other Rocket scored more than six points.

Rockets 30, Lakers 15 (end of first quarter)

Despite playing without Dwight Howard, Houston jumped out to an early 15-point lead over the Lakers after a quarter.

James Harden made five of six shots for 13 points. He also has four assists,

Jordan Hill has four points to lead the Lakers, who are shooting only 31.3% from the field.

Houston shot 52% from the field, making five three-pointers. The Lakers missed all five shots they attempted from behind the arc.

After sitting out the Lakers' loss on Friday to the San Antonio Spurs (Coach Byron Scott's decision), Jeremy Lin played four minutes in the first quarter, finishing with a point and an assist.

Pregame

The Lakers (12-32) will play Sunday night against the Houston Rockets (30-14), still awaiting word on Kobe Bryant's fate with a torn rotator cuff.

The Rockets aren't expected to have center Dwight Howard (ankle) and forward Terrence Jones (leg).

Also for the Lakers, Tarik Black (ankle) is doubtful while Julius Randle (knee) and Steve Nash (back) are out for the season.

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

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

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