Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Dwight Howard made his much anticipated return to Staples Center on Wednesday night and helped the Houston Rockets to a 134-108 drubbing of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Howard, who had a tepid 2012-13 campaign in LA while with the Lakers before signing with the Rockets in the offseason, scored 20 points with 13 rebounds and three blocks against his former team.
"We had fun tonight because we're playing great," Howard said. "We went out there and set the tone early. I can't focus on the Lakers. They always find a way to get to the top. I wish I would have been healthier last season, but things happen for a reason."
James Harden contributed a 29-point, 11-assist double-double in Houston's season-high eighth straight win. Chandler Parsons tallied 18 points, Donatas Motiejunas had 12, and Terrence Jones and Francisco Garcia netted 11 points apiece.
"Dwight played really well," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "He blocked shots. He had a really good game. Dwight enjoys playing. We were hitting shots tonight and moved the ball pretty well."
While the Rockets are one of the hottest teams in the league, the Lakers are sputtering on their home floor. Los Angeles had its franchise-record home losing streak extended to eight games in defeat.
Wesley Johnson paced LA with 24 points and Kendall Marshall deposited 20 points with 16 assists in a losing effort.
Jodie Meeks notched 19 points and Ryan Kelly added 13 for the Lakers, who also lost their fourth straight game overall.
"The biggest thing is to keep their heads up," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said following the lopsided loss. "They've played as hard as they can play. We just don't have the men right now."
Howard scored the first points of the game with a hook shot, then blocked Marshall's jumper and retrieved Kelly's miss on the same possession.
Meeks then converted a three-point play before Howard spun to his left while being guarded by Chris Kaman, and slammed down a thunderous dunk. Howard then proceeded to get called for a technical foul while running his mouth down the court following the play
Houston's big man must have gotten a charge from the echoes of boos at Staples Center because he followed Meeks' technical free throw with a putback dunk off a Harden miss and the Houston rout got underway.
Marshall did, however, follow a Kelly 3-pointer with a trey and give the Lakers a 12-11 lead. LA led by one a couple of minutes later before the Rockets ended the final 4:15 of the first on a 15-4 run for a 32-22 lead after 12 minutes.
The Lakers were within single digits late in the second, but Houston ended the frame on a 12-0 burst for a 64-43 advantage at the break.
The Rockets led by 29 after three quarters and the lead swelled to a game-high 36 following a Garcia 3-pointer late in the fourth as the Rockets cruised.
The Lakers had won 6-of-7 from Houston in LA prior to Wednesday's tilt ... Houston shot 52-of-104 from the field, while LA shot 41-for-84 (48.8 percent) ... The Rockets outrebounded the Lakers 56-32 ... Houston shot 12-of-25 (48 percent) from the free throw line, with Howard and Jones both going 2-of-6 from the stripe ... Houston scored 26 points off of 20 LA turnovers.