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Howard faces former team as Rockets host Lakers

(SportsNetwork.com) - Dwight Howard will try to prove he's moved on to greener pastures with the Houston Rockets when they take on the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday in the opener of a three-game homestand at the Toyota Center.

Howard is facing the Lakers for the first time since he left the team through free agency this summer and has helped the Rockets to a 4-1 start. Howard battled through injuries last season with Los Angeles and is happy in his new surroundings.

"There's no need to talk about what the Lakers could have done. I made my decision and I'm living with it," Howard said. "I'm happy where I'm at, I'm in a great place. Everybody should move forward. It's over with."

Howard never seemed comfortable in Hollywood playing alongside Kobe Bryant, and decided to continue his career in Houston.

The Rockets are tied with San Antonio for the top spot in the Southwest Division and Howard recorded 29 points and 13 rebounds in Tuesday's 116-101 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. James Harden scored 33 points and both Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley had 12 points for Houston, which shot 54.7 percent from the floor and had a 47-30 advantage in rebounds.

Beverley was back after missing three games with a torn muscle in his midsection.

"The Rockets are a talented team. Give them credit for the way they played," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "Harden made tough shots and Howard finished around the basket and made his free throws. We could never quite get over the hump."

The Rockets outscored Portland 54-28 in the paint and 18-5 on second chance points.

Houston, which rebounded from a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, will also host the Clips and Toronto Raptors on this homestand. The Rockets are 2-0 at home.

The Lakers will resume their three-game tour against Southwest foes Thursday and began the junket with Tuesday's 123-104 loss at Dallas.

Nick Young scored a team-high 21 points and both Jodie Meeks and Jordan Farmar added 11 points for the Lakers, who have lost three of four games since a season-opening win versus the Clippers. Pau Gasol had 10 points and eight rebounds in the loss.

"You can't get blown out and then think now we need to learn to win," said Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni. "No, we need to learn how to play. We're not playing right now."

L.A., which trailed by as many as 30 points in Dallas, is winless (0-2) on the road this season and will close out the trip Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans. With Bryant (Achilles) still sidelined, the Lakers' bench has stepped up and leads the league in scoring at 58.6 points per game.

The Rockets and Lakers split four meetings a season ago and Los Angeles is winless in four straight trips to Space City.

11/07 10:43:35 ET

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