Notebook: Rockets 125, Lakers 112

Posted Jan 9, 2013 12:29 AM

Matt Miller, for

THE FACTS: For the Houston Rockets, sluggish starts that cause them to fall behind early in games no longer seem all that problematic. Perhaps that is because they continue to erase these deficits in impressive fashion and walk off the court winners.

James Harden scored 31 points on 11-for-19 shooting to go with nine assists and six rebounds, as the Rockets recorded their third consecutive come-from-behind victory and extended their winning streak to five games with a 125-112 triumph over the shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday at Toyota Center. Chandler Parsons added 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting, and Jeremy Lin netted 19 points, grabbed six boards and dished out five assists for Houston (21-14), which has won seven of its last eight home games and 10 of 12 overall.

Steve Nash (16 points) reached the 10,000 career assists milestone in the second quarter, becoming only the fifth player in NBA history to dish that many dimes.

Metta World Peace poured in a season-high 24 points and collected four steals to pace the Lakers (15-19), who have lost a season-worst-tying four games in a row. Kobe Bryant finished with 20 points on 8-for-22 shooting and seven assists. L.A. played without frontcourt starters Dwight Howard (torn labrum in right shoulder) and Pau Gasol (concussion), as well as reserve big man Jordan Hill (left hip). All three players will be sidelined at least until the conclusion of the Lakers' two-game Texas road swing.

QUOTABLE: "Dribble penetration hurt us quite a bit. ... They really spread us out and break us down and go by us. We're not the fastest team, so they can break our defense down and get by us on penetration."
-- Bryant on how Houston eventually wore down the Lakers.

THE STAT: The Rockets stormed back from a double-digit deficit for the third consecutive contest, digging out of a 14-point hole against L.A. Houston has outscored opponents by an average of 15.0 points during the second half of these matchups. The Rockets have overcome a deficit of at least 10 points in seven games this season, one more than the amount of double-digit comebacks they posted all of last season.

TURNING POINT: The Lakers butchered the Rockets' defense for a majority of the first three quarters, building a 78-73 lead with a little less than five minutes remaining in the third. As soon as Houston put together a string of solid defensive possessions, however, L.A.'s advantage quickly evaporated. Fueled by six consecutive missed jump shots by the Lakers, the Rockets ripped off a 21-4 run to claim a 94-82 edge with 1:09 left to play in the period.

HOT: With his 13th consecutive 25-point performance, Harden matched Moses Malone's franchise record for most consecutive games with at least 25 points. The fourth-year guard has averaged 29.4 points during this streak.

QUOTABLE II: "He scores the ball so efficiently and so quietly, it's just crazy. ... He's really carrying us right now, and it's promising that we have a guy like him to give the ball to and create."
-- Parsons on Harden's offensive prowess.

NOT: L.A. may have been undermanned in the post Tuesday, but its interior defensive woes date back to before Gasol and Howard were sidelined by injuries. After allowing Houston to finish with a 60-44 advantage in the paint, the Lakers have been outscored in the paint by an average of 57.3-39.3 over their last three games.

GOOD MOVE: The Rockets relentlessly attacked the rim, exploiting the short-handed Lakers' inability to consistently clog the paint. Harden, Lin and Parsons penetrated at will in guiding the Rockets to a scorching 55.2 percent shooting effort from the field and their fourth game this season with at least 60 points in the paint.

QUOTABLE III: "We emphasized going inside. We wanted to attack the paint, and I know I was trying to get to the rim more just knowing they didn't have any shot blockers in there."
-- Parsons

BAD MOVE: Houston coach Kevin McHale played Parsons, who is battling an illness, nearly 43 minutes in the first game of a back-to-back set. That likely leaves McHale with no choice but to limit the second-year forward's minutes during Wednesday's meeting with the New Orleans Hornets.

NOTABLE: Nash, who recorded his 10,000th career assist on an Antawn Jamison basket with 19.6 seconds remaining in the second quarter, now sits at 10,005 career dimes. He became the fourth fastest player in NBA history to reach this milestone, needing only 1,162 contests. ... Nash tweaked his back during the third quarter, but he returned to the game in the fourth period after a brief trip to the locker room. ... Bryant failed to reach 27 points for the first time in 18 games, falling one outing shy of matching Michael Jordan's 18-game streak during the 1990-91 campaign. ... The Lakers have lost four consecutive games in Houston, squandering a 14-point advantage in each of their last three defeats at Toyota Center. ... The Rockets improved to 9-1 this season when Carlos Delfino (19 points) nets at least 11 points. ... Delfino has shot 61.3 percent (19-for-31) from 3-point range over his last five games. ... Houston is now 10-2 when Harden scores at least 30 points and 15-3 when he connects on at least 45.0 percent of his field-goal attempts. ... The Rockets won for only the second time this season when draining fewer 3-pointers than their opponent.

UP NEXT: For the Lakers: Wednesday @ San Antonio, Friday vs. Oklahoma City, Sunday vs. Cleveland. For the Rockets: Wednesday @ New Orleans, Friday @ Boston, Saturday @ Philadelphia.