Rockets Send Lakers Into Orbit

Without Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant available, the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets met on Sunday night at Staples Center, but LA got off to a slow start and never recovered.

On Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Houston Rockets at Staples Center, which was not a surprise, really. The Lakers winning a game is more of a surprise these days, but we can talk about that when it actually happens.

Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant both missed the game due to injury, and the game lacked star power and a general competitive spirit. The only player who could be categorized as a star would be James Harden, and the Rockets' guard played his part.

At one point in the first quarter, Harden had outscored the Lakers 13-12, and the Rockets' guard also had four assists to the Lakers' three. With celebrities like Denzel Washington, Anthony Kiedis and Floyd Mayweather watching courtside, Harden lit the Lakers up for 20 points, four assists and six rebounds in the first half.

As would be expected, the Lakers trailed the Rockets by 16 points at the intermission.

In the second half, the Lakers would not cover themselves in glory. The Rockets would expand the lead to 25 points. Even the Howard-less Rockets easily bruised and battered the Bryant-less Lakers. Harden would eventually finish with 37 points, eight rebounds and five assists in 34 minutes.

Although the Lakers put together a late rally that eventually fell short, one could not help but look at the Lakers' record at the end of the night, 12-33, and start counting how many games this team still had left to play in the 2014-15 season: 37.

On Monday morning, Bryant expects to confirm what everyone already believes--that his season is over. If that is the case, the Lakers' final 37 games are shaping up to be brutal. How brutal? Well, the Lakers have lost eight games in a row and 11 of their last 12. They expect to get worse.

Notes: Tarik Black appeared for the Lakers after missing two games with an ankle injury. The Lakes' rookie was instrumental in the Lakers' late rally. After being left on the bench against San Antonio, Jeremy Lin played 28 minutes against the Rockets, and the Lakers employed all healthy bodies.

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