Harden leads Rockets to lopsided 126-97 win over Lakers

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HOUSTON (AP) James Harden scored 30 points, and the Houston Rockets got an easy 126-97 win over the struggling Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.

A 3-pointer by Nick Young with about seven minutes left got the Lakers within 11, but a 13-2 run by Houston pushed the lead to 115-93 and the Rockets cruised to the victory. Donatas Motiejunas, Harden and Patrick Beverley each made a 3-pointer to cap the key stretch.

Motiejunas had 11 points in his best game since returning from back surgery.

Kobe Bryant had 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Lakers, who have lost six in a row and 13 of 14.

Despite Houston's blowout win, the home crowd seemed to be filled with more Bryant fans than Rockets fans. They cheered loudly every time he touched the ball and chanted ''Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!'' as the final seconds ticked away.

Bryant, who plans to retire after this season, stopped on his way off the court for a hug with former Rocket Steve Francis as the crowd continued to chant his name.

The Rockets shot 52.2 percent (47 for 90) from the field and 15 for 33 from 3-point range, compared to 40 percent (35 for 88) for the Lakers and 10 for 32 from beyond the arc.

Houston led 63-46 at halftime and scored seven of the first nine points of the third quarter. Beverley's layup made it 70-48 with 9:52 left.

Terrence Jones made a layup at the end of the third after Corey Brewer blocked a shot by Bryant, giving the Rockets a 91-76 advantage after three.

Houston had a 52-29 lead in the first half when Bryant scored 11 points in a 13-0 run for Los Angeles. He made two 3-pointers in the surge and capped the run with three straight free throws after he was fouled by Harden.

Houston star Dwight Howard scored six straight points to end the first half, highlighted by a soaring, two-handed dunk after a steal.


Lakers: G Jordan Clarkson missed his second straight game with a sprained right ankle. ... The loss closed out an eight-game road trip, the team's longest since a nine-game trip from Jan. 31, 2007 to Feb. 13, 2008. ... Young finished with 13 points.

Rockets: Trevor Ariza was back in the starting lineup after missing Houston's last game with a bruised lower back, which snapped a streak of 172 straight games played. ... Ty Lawson was feeling better after recovering from the flu. ... Howard had 18 points and 12 rebounds.


Lakers: Host Milwaukee on Tuesday.

Rockets: Travel to Denver on Monday.