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Howard's return to LA a success as Rockets crush Lakers

Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Dwight Howard made his much anticipated return to Staples Center on Wednesday night and helped the Houston Rockets to a 134-108 drubbing of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Howard, who had a tepid 2012-13 campaign in LA while with the Lakers before signing with the Rockets in the offseason, scored 20 points with 13 rebounds and three blocks against his former team.

"We had fun tonight because we're playing great," Howard said. "We went out there and set the tone early. I can't focus on the Lakers. They always find a way to get to the top. I wish I would have been healthier last season, but things happen for a reason."

James Harden contributed a 29-point, 11-assist double-double in Houston's season-high eighth straight win. Chandler Parsons tallied 18 points, Donatas Motiejunas had 12, and Terrence Jones and Francisco Garcia netted 11 points apiece.

"Dwight played really well," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "He blocked shots. He had a really good game. Dwight enjoys playing. We were hitting shots tonight and moved the ball pretty well."

While the Rockets are one of the hottest teams in the league, the Lakers are sputtering on their home floor. Los Angeles had its franchise-record home losing streak extended to eight games in defeat.

Wesley Johnson paced LA with 24 points and Kendall Marshall deposited 20 points with 16 assists in a losing effort.

Jodie Meeks notched 19 points and Ryan Kelly added 13 for the Lakers, who also lost their fourth straight game overall.

"The biggest thing is to keep their heads up," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said following the lopsided loss. "They've played as hard as they can play. We just don't have the men right now."

Howard scored the first points of the game with a hook shot, then blocked Marshall's jumper and retrieved Kelly's miss on the same possession.

Meeks then converted a three-point play before Howard spun to his left while being guarded by Chris Kaman, and slammed down a thunderous dunk. Howard then proceeded to get called for a technical foul while running his mouth down the court following the play

Houston's big man must have gotten a charge from the echoes of boos at Staples Center because he followed Meeks' technical free throw with a putback dunk off a Harden miss and the Houston rout got underway.

Marshall did, however, follow a Kelly 3-pointer with a trey and give the Lakers a 12-11 lead. LA led by one a couple of minutes later before the Rockets ended the final 4:15 of the first on a 15-4 run for a 32-22 lead after 12 minutes.

The Lakers were within single digits late in the second, but Houston ended the frame on a 12-0 burst for a 64-43 advantage at the break.

The Rockets led by 29 after three quarters and the lead swelled to a game-high 36 following a Garcia 3-pointer late in the fourth as the Rockets cruised.

Game Notes

The Lakers had won 6-of-7 from Houston in LA prior to Wednesday's tilt ... Houston shot 52-of-104 from the field, while LA shot 41-for-84 (48.8 percent) ... The Rockets outrebounded the Lakers 56-32 ... Houston shot 12-of-25 (48 percent) from the free throw line, with Howard and Jones both going 2-of-6 from the stripe ... Houston scored 26 points off of 20 LA turnovers.

02/20 01:55:40 ET

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Thursday, April 24Full Scoreboard
Indiana 4/24 7:00 PM ET
Atlanta NBA TV, FS-IN, SportSouth
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Three. Series tied, 1-1.
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Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Three, Series tied 1-1.
LA Clippers 4/24 10:30 PM ET
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Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Three. Series tied, 1-1.
Full Scoreboard

Standings

2013 - 2014 Eastern Conference Standings
 
Atlantic W L PCT GB Home Away Conf Streak
y-Toronto 48 34 .585 --- 26-15 22-19 32-20 L 1
x-Brooklyn 44 38 .537 4 28-13 16-25 26-26 L 2
New York 37 45 .451 11 19-22 18-23 26-26 W 4
Boston 25 57 .305 23 16-25 9-32 21-31 L 2
Philadelphia 19 63 .232 29 10-31 9-32 14-38 W 2
 
Central W L PCT GB Home Away Conf Streak
y-Indiana 56 26 .683 --- 35-6 21-20 38-14 W 2
x-Chicago 48 34 .585 8 27-14 21-20 35-17 L 1
Cleveland 33 49 .402 23 19-22 14-27 21-31 W 1
Detroit 29 53 .354 27 17-24 12-29 23-29 L 4
Milwaukee 15 67 .183 41 10-31 5-36 12-40 L 3
 
Southeast W L PCT GB Home Away Conf Streak
y-Miami 54 28 .659 --- 32-9 22-19 34-18 L 3
x-Washington 44 38 .537 10 22-19 22-19 33-19 W 4
x-Charlotte 43 39 .524 11 25-16 18-23 30-22 W 3
x-Atlanta 38 44 .463 16 24-17 14-27 28-24 W 1
Orlando 23 59 .280 31 19-22 4-37 17-35 L 4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
2013 - 2014 Western Conference Standings
 
Northwest W L PCT GB Home Away Conf Streak
y-Oklahoma City 59 23 .720 --- 34-7 25-16 36-16 W 1
x-Portland 54 28 .659 5 31-10 23-18 31-21 W 5
Minnesota 40 42 .488 19 24-17 16-25 23-29 L 3
Denver 36 46 .439 23 22-19 14-27 20-32 L 2
Utah 25 57 .305 34 16-25 9-32 13-39 W 1
 
Pacific W L PCT GB Home Away Conf Streak
y-LA Clippers 57 25 .695 --- 34-7 23-18 36-16 L 1
x-Golden State 51 31 .622 6 27-14 24-17 31-21 W 2
Phoenix 48 34 .585 9 26-15 22-19 28-24 W 1
Sacramento 28 54 .341 29 17-24 11-30 15-37 L 1
LA Lakers 27 55 .329 30 14-27 13-28 15-37 W 2
 
Southwest W L PCT GB Home Away Conf Streak
y-San Antonio 62 20 .756 --- 32-9 30-11 38-14 L 2
x-Houston 54 28 .659 8 33-8 21-20 31-21 L 1
x-Memphis 50 32 .610 12 27-14 23-18 29-23 W 5
x-Dallas 49 33 .598 13 26-15 23-18 29-23 L 1
New Orleans 34 48 .415 28 22-19 12-29 15-37 W 2
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
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Scoreboard
Local
7:05pm Tonight
CHR
DUR
 
Final
CLE 5
KAN 1
Final
PIT 1
CIN 2
9th
DET 7
CWS 4
 
8th
TAM 6
MIN 9
 
9th
NYM 4
STL 1
 
6th
CHC 1
ARI 3
 
7:05pm Tonight
WAS
SDP
7:07pm Tonight
TOR
BAL
7:10pm Tonight
BOS
NYY
8:10pm Tonight
HOU
OAK
10:10pm Tonight
LOS
PHI
7:00pm Tonight
ATL
IND
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
OKC
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
LAC
8:00pm Tonight
DET
BOS
9:30pm Tonight
MIN
COL
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
SJS
7:05pm Tonight
CHR
DUR