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NBA Game Summary - LA Lakers at Houston

(Sunday, March 16th)

Final Score: Houston 104, LA Lakers 92

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Rafer Alston hit a pair of career highs with eight three-pointers and 31 points, and the Houston Rockets won their 22nd consecutive contest in convincing fashion with a 104-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at the Toyota Center.

Alston also had five assists and a pair of steals to propel the Rockets, whose current streak is the second-longest in NBA history. Only the 1971-72 Lakers' 33-game winning streak is better.

"(It was) a great win," said Rockets head coach Rick Adelman. "It's a tough game and we played so well the first half as a team and then came out in the third quarter and couldn't make a shot, we really got stagnant offensively. But give our guys credit. They stayed with the thing, they stayed with it the whole second half and still defended really well and made the plays in the fourth quarter to win the game. It's just a solid win."

Bobby Jackson ended with 19 points, Shane Battier chipped in 14 and Luis Scola added 13 and 11 boards for Houston, which used an all-around effort to move into the top spot in the Western Conference. Tracy McGrady ended with 11 points, all in the second half.

Kobe Bryant scored a team-high 24 for the Lakers, who have dropped three of their last four games and sit one ahead of Phoenix for the top spot in the Pacific Division. Lamar Odom donated 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Ronny Turiaf rounded out the players in double-digits with a 13-point effort.

"Bobby Jackson was a great addition for the Rockets," said Bryant. "He came in tonight and had 19 points off the bench. He hurt us. It was a great acquisition, bench players that come in for them. Luther Head also played well, and their bench is their key to this long streak."

Lakers center Pau Gasol sat with a sprained left ankle sustained in Friday's loss at New Orleans. He left the arena on crutches, and will miss at least three games. Gasol has averaged 19 points and eight rebounds since coming to Los Angeles from Memphis last month.

The Rockets had a five-point lead heading to the fourth quarter, but the Lakers fought back. Bryant made it a two-point contest, 81-79, with just over seven and a half remaining, and Houston failed to gain any separation until the clock ticked down inside of five to play.

The Lakers started to falter at the other end, and Houston was tough on the boards, turning every rebound into a quick trip up the floor. Battier connected from long range, and after both sides traded jumpers, Jackson found himself wide open at the left wing and drained a three with 3:22 left, opening a 96-86 cushion.

Los Angeles couldn't pull any closer, and a delirious capacity crowd counted down to the final horn.

Houston rolled out to a 14-8 lead at the start, hitting its first four shots from beyond the arc. Alston canned three of the four, and following a Bryant layup, added a running jumper for 11 points in a little more than six minutes.

The Lakers made it 18-all a short time later, but Alston powered the Rockets into the second quarter with a 24-23 edge and the momentum.

A 15-6 push quickly followed, highlighted by an emphatic dunk from Mike Harris, and Jackson capped the rally with a pair from the stripe to make it 39-29 with 6:57 left in the half.

It was 59-44 at the break, with McGrady yet to crack the scoreboard for the Rockets.

The magic touch seemed to disappear in the third quarter, as the Rockets missed their first 12 shots, allowing the visitors to climb back in it. The Lakers went white-hot from there, and cut it to 59-56 behind a 12-0 run.

Alston's trey broke the spell for Houston, and he continued his three-point barrage as the game moved into the fourth quarter with the Rockets holding a 71-66 edge.

Game Notes

The Rockets ended 12-of-26 from long range, compared to 5-of-16 for the Lakers...Houston rookie forward Carl Landry missed his fifth straight game with a bruised knee...Houston is 1 1/2 games ahead of New Orleans in the Southwest Division...The Rockets have won 15 in a row as the host and are 26-9 at the Toyota Center this season...Houston won the season series, 2-1, and has emerged victorious in four of the last five and seven of the last 12 contests...The Rockets host the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, then hit the road for visits to New Orleans, Golden State and Phoenix.

03/16 19:29:32 ET

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