|Date of game: 1/8/2013
Recap: Houston vs. LA Lakers
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - James Harden poured in a game-high 31 points and handed out nine assists on Tuesday, as the Houston Rockets defeated the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers, 125-112, at Toyota Center.
Harden has netted at least 25 points in each of his last 13 games, tying him with Moses Malone (Jan. 26-Feb. 23, 1982) for the franchise record for most consecutive 25-plus point games.
Chandler Parsons added 20 points, while Jeremy Lin and Carlos Delfino donated 19 points apiece for the Rockets, who have won five straight and 10 of their last 12 games.
"We knew we couldn't take them lightly," Harden said of the Lakers. "They did a great job in that first half of getting easy shots on us and second half we started to pick it up defensively, got out in transition and made some easy shots."
Los Angeles was playing without two-thirds of its starting frontcourt, as center Dwight Howard and forward Pau Gasol are both out indefinitely.
Howard sustained a torn labrum in his right shoulder and will be re-examined in a week, while Gasol did not make the trip to Houston due to a concussion.
Metta World Peace paced the Lakers with 24 points and Kobe Bryant followed with 20 points, seven assists and five boards in the setback, Los Angeles' fourth in a row.
Steve Nash notched his 10,000th assist in the loss, making him the fourth fastest to reach the mark in NBA history (1,162 games). He finished with 16 points and 10 assists.
"It's really hard to enjoy it right now," Nash said of reaching 10,000 assists. "I don't want to discredit it, or not appreciate the company I share in this milestone, but right now it's the farthest thing from my mind. We're just trying to find a way to win one game."
Nash's milestone dish came late in the first half, as he found a cutting Antawn Jamison to give Los Angeles a 62-57 advantage.
Harden answered with a layup to trim the margin to three heading into the break before a three-point play from Markieff Morris near the midpoint of the third knotted the game at 69-69.
A 7-2 swing from the Lakers found them holding a 78-73 advantage with just under five minutes left in the third, but the visitors went the next four minutes without a field goal and the Rockets took advantage.
Houston ripped off a 22-4 run during the drought, as Harden's resounding three-point play gave the Rockets a 95-82 advantage with 1:09 left in the third.
The Lakers trimmed the margin to 97-88 after three frames and got as close as eight in the fourth after a Jodie Meeks triple, but the Rockets responded with a 7-2 swing capped by Lin's three-point play to make it 112-98 with just under five minutes remaining.
Houston held the Lakers at bay from there, never allowing the visitors to pull within single-digits down the stretch.
World Peace fueled the Lakers early, pouring in eight points during an 18-4 run that found the Lakers with a double-digit edge less than five minutes in.
The margin was 13 later in the frame after an Earl Clark putback, but Harden and Delfino combined on a 10-3 spurt to trim the margin to 34-28 after 12 minutes.
Houston took its first lead of the game at 47-46 on a Delfino triple with 4:48 left in the half, but World Peace buried a trey at the other end and Bryant followed with a layup to push the Lakers' lead to four.
The Rockets were able to tie the game at 51-51 on a Parsons jumper, but never led again until their third-quarter surge.Game Notes
Only John Stockton, Magic Johnson and Jason Kidd have reached 10,000
assists in fewer games than Nash. Johnson (10,141) ranks 4th on the all-time
list ... Robert Sacre started for Howard and finished with 10 points ...
Houston shot 55.2 percent (48-for-87) from the field.