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Five takeaways from the Lakers' 107-87 loss to the Houston Rockets

Five takeaways from the Lakers' 107-87 loss to the Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets' Dwight Howard, left, grabs a rebound away from Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant in the first half of a game on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015. (Paul Buck / EPA)

The Lakers (4-22) fell to 2-7 at home this season, losing to the Houston Rockets (13-14) on Thursday. Here are five takeaways from their 107-87 loss at Staples Center.

1. The big story was Kobe Bryant's dunk over Rockets forward/center Clint Capela, bringing the Staples Center crowd to their feet.

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"That's his first dunk?" asked Dwight Howard after the game. "Dang, Throwback Thursday. I already know what the headlines are going to say. They're going to have a picture of me, and a picture of Clint side by side, and they're going to say, 'Kobe turns back the hands of time.'

"I didn't think he had enough legs to do it, but you know, it's pretty cool. Good to see the old guys' still got it a little bit."

2. Julius Randle tallied his 12th double-double this season, scoring 18 points with 10 rebounds.

"I just have to stay aggressive," Randle said. "I never really get discouraged. Just have to keep progressing and getting better."

He also made his first NBA three-pointer, the only shot available to him in the moment, taking a pass from Bryant late in the shot clock.

That was Randle's eighth attempt of the season. He's working to develop his jump shot, but a three-pointer is typically a bit out of his range.

3. D'Angelo Russell had a difficult night against the Rockets, scoring just two points on one-of-nine shooting. He led the Lakers with seven assists but also turned the ball over four times.

"It was his first bad game in the last five or six games," Coach Byron Scott said. "I hope everybody in this room understands he's 19 and he's human; he's not going to have great games every single night. Tonight was one of those games where he struggled — so the big thing for him now, is how does he bounce back to next game."

Over his past four games, Russell scored 19, 12, 24 and 23 points, respectively. Thursday's two-point output was his lowest of the season.

"He's still moving the ball," Scott said of Russell's playmaking. "He's doing a good job of running on offense and moving the ball. He just didn't shoot the ball well tonight."

4. Howard was booed most of the night. The former Lakers center struggled a bit with foul trouble but finished the game strong with 16 points and 15 rebounds.

He hit 10 of 18 free throws, as the Lakers intentionally fouled him late in the game.

"Dwight was making his free throws. He was in a good rhythm," Rockets Coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "He made one of two mostly every time. ... He's knocking those free throws down, but if you want to foul him, we'll just extend the lead."

Heading into Thursday's meeting against the Lakers, Howard was shooting 53.3% from the — higher than the 49.2% he shot with the Lakers through the 2012-13 season.

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5. The Lakers are still in last place in the Western Conference, just 3 1/2 games better than the Philadelphia 76ers (1-26).

The Lakers are 7 1/2 games behind the eighth-place Denver Nuggets (11-14) and 3 1/2 behind the 14th-place New Orleans Pelicans (7-18).

Looking ahead to the 2016 NBA draft lottery, the Lakers would have a 55.8% chance of a top-three pick in next June's draft. If the Lakers fall below third in the lottery, the 76ers will get the team's pick as part of the Steve Nash trade, via the Phoenix Suns.

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

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