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Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013

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Help wanted: Los Angeles' Kobe Bryant (left) drives on Houston's Carlos Delfino during the Rockets' 125-112 win on Tuesday. AP

Rockets rally past ailing Lakers for fifth consecutive win


HOUSTON — Sure the Los Angeles Lakers are short-handed.

But a team with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace should still play better than this.

James Harden scored 31 points and Chandler Parsons added 20 to help the Houston Rockets pick up their fifth straight win with a 125-112 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

Houston trailed by as many as 14 in the first half, but used a pair of runs in the third quarter to go on top and build a big lead.

World Peace had a season-high 24 points for the Lakers, who were playing without their top three big men: Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill — who are all out with injuries.

Bryant added 20 points for the Lakers and Nash had 16 points and 10 assists to become only the fifth player to surpass 10,000 career assists, joining John Stockton, Jason Kidd, Marc Jackson and Magic Johnson.

Nash said he tweaked his back in the game, but that he was OK.

"It's really hard to enjoy it right now," Nash said of the assists. "I don't want to discredit it, or not appreciate the company I share in this milestone, but right now it's the farthest thing from my mind. We're just trying to find a way to win one game."

The Lakers, who lost their fourth straight to fall to 15-19, are in 11th place in the Western Conference.

"I thought we had the better team," World Peace said. "We definitely had the better team, but every night we have the better team and it's just not translating to wins."

The Rockets have rallied from double-digit deficits for their last three wins. As usual, they did it on Tuesday night behind the strong play of Harden, who has scored at least 25 points in 13 straight games.

"They were short-handed tonight, but they are still tough," Harden said of the Lakers. "We knew we couldn't take them lightly. They did a great job in the first half of really getting easy shots on us. In the second half we started to pick it up defensively. We got out in transition and made some easy shots."

Howard has a torn labrum in his right shoulder, Gasol has a concussion and Hill a right hip injury. All three are out indefinitely. Seven-foot rookie center Robert Sacre made his first career start due to the injuries, and finished with 10 points, four blocked shots and three rebounds.

Jeremy Lin chipped in 19 points with six rebounds and five assists for Houston, and Carlos Delfino also scored 19.

Pacers 87, Heat 77

In Indianapolis, Paul George had 29 points and 11 rebounds, and the Pacers held the defending champions to a season-low point total.

George made four 3-pointers to get the best of his matchup with LeBron James. David West added 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Lance Stephenson chipped in with 13 points for Indiana, which has won 11 of its last 13 games.

Bucks 108, Suns 99

In Milwaukee, Brandon Jennings scored 29 points and the Bucks gave Jim Boylan a win in his first game as coach with a victory over Phoenix.

Milwaukee parted ways with coach Scott Skiles on Monday in what was called a mutual decision, and the Bucks tapped Skiles' top assistant Boylan as a replacement.

Nets 109, 76ers 89

In Philadelphia, Reggie Evans had a career-high 23 rebounds, Deron Williams scored 22 points and Brooklyn improved to 6-1 under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo with a win over the Sixers.

Evans outrebounded undersized Philadelphia 23-22 through three quarters.

Timberwolves 108, Hawks 103

In Minneapolis, Nikola Pekovic had 25 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko added 21 points to lead Minnesota over Atlanta.

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