Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Lakers dropped their ninth game over their last 11 tries.
Houston's James Harden led all scorers with 38 points, blowing the game open in the third quarter after the Rockets trailed for most of the first half.
The Lakers shot 40.9% from the field, but turned the ball over 18 times, notably in the third period when a five-point Lakers' edge quickly turned to a 13-point Houston advantage.
The Rockets shot 45.3% from the field and 56% from the line (28-50), getting significant attempts in the fourth quarter when the Lakers intentionally fouled Howard repeatedly.
Kendall Marshall scored five for the Lakers on 2-for-13 shooting with eight assists, but turned the ball over five six times.
The Rockets start a four-game road trip on Friday in Atlanta (19-17), visiting the Hawks.
Houston took over the game in the third quarter, outscoring the Lakers, 33-15.
James Harden scored 17 in the period, climbing to 32 for the game.
The Lakers have turned the ball over 15 times while shooting 42.4% from the field. Whatever worked in the first half, simply didn't in the third quarter.
The Rockets shot 45.7% from the field, but just 57.1% from the line (but made up for their low percentage in volume, hitting 16 of 28).
The Lakers maintained their lead through the second quarter, pulling ahead by as many as 11.