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Rockets 145, Lakers 130

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LOS ANGELES -- Steve Nash climbed to No. 3 on the career assists list, but the Lakers point guard couldn't prevent the Houston Rockets from hammering Los Angeles 145-130 Tuesday night at Staples Center.

Guard James Harden and forward Terrence Jones scored 33 points apiece as the Rockets (52-25) won their third in a row and remained 2 1/2 games ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers for the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference playoff race. Houston is 2 1/2 games back of the Los Angeles Clippers for the third seed.

The Lakers (25-53) dropped their fifth consecutive game and equaled the franchise record for losses in a season. The 1957-58 Minneapolis Lakers finished 19-53.

Jones, who scored 23 points in the first half, converted 13 of 18 shots from the floor. He left late in the third quarter with what appeared to be a cramp in his left leg, and he didn't return.

Harden, who also didn't play in the fourth quarter, hit 10 of 15 attempts from the field and three of six from behind the 3-point arc. Harden also had 12 assists.

Forward Chandler Parsons had 19 points and eight assists for Houston, while center Omer Asik finished with 10 points and 15 rebounds. Reserve guard Isaiah Canaan scored 15.

Nash passed Mark Jackson for third in all-time assists, connecting with guard Jodie Meeks on a dunk with 2:13 left in the second quarter. Nash, who received a standing ovation, finished the night with 10,335 assists overall, leaving him behind John Stockton (15,806) and Jason Kidd (12,091).

In 13 minutes Tuesday, Nash handed out five assists and scored three points.

Houston led 66-61 at the half before blowing the game open in the third quarter. A 17-3 spurt gave the Rockets a 101-76 advantage. Houston outscored Los Angeles 49-24 in the period, with Harden and Jones combining for 28 points.

The Rockets outscored the Lakers 80-46 on points in the paint.

Los Angeles guard Nick Young came off the bench to score 32 points, hitting six 3-pointers. Meeks scored 30, and forward Ryan Kelly added 18 points.

NOTES: Houston coach Kevin McHale left open the possibility that C Dwight Howard could return when the Rockets visit the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. Howard missed the past nine games due to a left ankle sprain. "I think he's getting better," McHale said. "Tomorrow night we will see." ... McHale didn't know when G Patrick Beverley would return, but he ruled Beverley out of the Denver game. Beverly sat out the past six games with a right knee sprain. ... The Rockets scored 24 of their 35 first-quarter points in the paint. The Lakers managed six inside points in the period. ... Lakers F/C Chris Kaman missed his fourth game with a strained right calf. ... After the Denver game, Houston travels to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves on Friday. ... Los Angeles hosts the Golden State Warriors on Friday before playing its final home game Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
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