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             === Blake's late bucket helps Lakers edge Rockets ===
 Houston,   TX   (  -   Dwight  Howard  was  late  recovering
 defensively and Steve Blake made him pay.
 It was that kind of night for the former Los Angeles Laker.
 Blake's  go-ahead 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left lifted the Lakers to a 99-98
 victory over the Houston Rockets.
 Howard faced the Lakers for the first time since he left the team through free
 agency  this past  summer. Howard battled through injuries a year ago with Los
 Angeles  and  never seemed to get  on the same  page with Kobe Bryant during a
 disappointing  45-37 campaign. The Lakers fell to the San Antonio Spurs in the
 first round after Bryant tore his Achilles on April 12.
 He  had  15 points and 14  rebounds, but was  just 5-of-16 from the foul line,
 including two key misses with 53.8 seconds left and the Rockets up 98-96.
 Howard was 1-of-6 from the stripe in the final 2:18.
 Howard  blocked  Wes Johnson's  layup at  the other  end before Harden's right
 elbow  jumper  was off  the mark.  Pau Gasol corralled  the rebound and called
 timeout with 10.9 seconds left.
 Johnson  had to  track down a loose  ball along the right sideline after Jodie
 Meeks  threw away  the inbounds pass and LA retained possession with 3.9 ticks
 on the clock.
 Coming off a double screen from the high post, Blake had a wide open look from
 the left wing and swished it over the outstretched arms of Howard.
 "Guys  just kind of  messed up on the play," Howard said. "It happens, we just
 have  to come back next game and make sure we have a better start. We got back
 into the game but we didn't finish them off. There are a lot of things we need
 to work on."
 Patrick  Beverley's desperation 3-pointer from the right wing was off the mark
 at the horn.
 Meeks  had  18 points off the  bench, Johnson added  16 off the pine and Blake
 finished  with  14 for  the Lakers, who  had dropped three  of their last four
 tilts coming in.
 Harden registered 35 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Houston, which
 fell to 4-2 on the young year.
 The  Lakers raced out  to a 36-19 advantage after a quarter of play and led by
 as  many  as 19 in  the second  before taking a  64-50 cushion into the locker
 LA  took  an 81-77 spread  into the fourth, where  Houston took its first lead
 since  it was  4-3 in  the early  stages of  the opening  frame when  Chandler
 Parsons drove in for a dunk for a 93-91 Rockets margin with 3:52 remaining.
 "It  was  obviously a great win  and a lot of  fun for us," Lakers guard Steve
 Nash  said. "We've been struggling a little bit, trying to keep our head above
 water  and it was a huge win. It was a great win for us in terms of the belief
 and some reward for all the hard work and sticking together."
                                   Game Notes
 Los  Angeles turned the ball over 24 times ... Gasol had just two points on 1-
 of-10  shooting  from the  floor, but  tallied 12 rebounds  ... Parsons had 16
 11/08 03:24:13 ET