<
>

Rockets 99, Lakers 87: 8 straight losses

LOS ANGELES -- No Kobe Bryant? Bummer. No Dwight Howard? Even worse. A complete blowout from the start? OK, let's just change the channel.

Yes, Staples Center offered pretty much nothing worth watching Sunday night in a 99-87 victory by the Houston Rockets. Even Rockets fans probably tuned out after their team had doubled up the Los Angeles Lakers after the first quarter (30-15).

Then again, even the Rockets looked bored most of the night, just watching and waiting for the seconds to tick away in a game that they led by as many as 25 points.

The Lakers suffered their season-high eighth straight loss, their longest skid since they dropped eight in a row from March 14 to 27 in 2005. They sit at 12-33.

Bryant was absent with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, and Howard was out with a sprained ankle, which meant no scuffles between the ex-teammates who had a sour relationship at best.

Player of the game: L.A. native James Harden barbecued the Lakers, though some of his shots were more well-contested during pregame warm-ups than in the actual game. The Rockets' star guard finished with 37 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, and though he technically broke a sweat, it seemed like he wasn't trying that hard all night.

Lin in action: Jeremy Lin came off the bench in the first quarter, his first action after receiving a DNP-CD (did not play -- coach's decision) Friday at San Antonio, his first healthy scratch since Feb. 2, 2012. He finished with 14 points on 2-of-9 shooting to go along with six assists in 28 minutes.

Swaggy P in the doghouse: Lakers coach Byron Scott benched Nick Young in the second half. Young played just nine scoreless minutes all told, missing both of his field goal attempts.

Lone bright spot: Carlos Boozer provided 18 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for the Lakers. There wasn't much else that the Lakers did worth mentioning.