Then reality set in.
Quite simply, there's a reason the Lakers came into the game having lost four out of their previous five games, just as there was a reason the Rockets came in riding a four-game winning streak.
And there's a reason why it's now five out of six for L.A. and five in a row on the plus side for Houston.
How it happened: Rather than being the team clawing back from an early deficit, it was the Lakers who built a 14-point lead in the first quarter.
The Rockets were able to make it a close game by halftime and erased all the early work the Lakers put in with an 18-2 run of their own in the third quarter to break the game open.
L.A. never made it close in the fourth and coach Mike D'Antoni conceded victory with 1:43 remaining, subbing Kobe Bryant (20 points on 8-for-22 shooting, 7 assists, 5 rebounds) and Steve Nash (16 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds) out of the game.
Hits: A day after playing a D-League game that tipped off a 10 a.m. in Reno, Nev., Robert Sacre was the starting center for the Lakers. Sacre was serviceable, finishing with 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting along with three rebounds, but he struggled giving up and-1 opportunities to Rockets players down low.
Metta World Peace scored a season-high 24 points and shot 4-for-5 on 3-pointers.
Misses: Antawn Jamison and D'Antoni got into a verbal spat in the first half when the veteran forward was checking into the game. Jamison finished with seven points and two rebounds and shot just 1-for-4 on 3-pointers in 24 minutes.
Stat of the night: With his fifth assist of the night, a dish inside to Jamison for a layup just before the half, Nash became only the fifth player in NBA history to amass 10,000 career assists.
Notes: Dwight Howard discussed the torn labrum in his right shoulder with reporters before the game and downplayed the severity of the injury.
What's next: With the Lakers now 0-3 on their crucial five-game stretch against Western Conference opponents ahead of them in the standings, they travel to San Antonio for the second night of a back-to-back Wednesday. Nothing gets easier for the 15-19 Lakers.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.