LOS ANGELES — Guard James Harden scored 32 points, leading the Houston Rockets to a 108-90 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers in the season opener for both clubs on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
Forwards Trevor Ariza and Terrence Jones chipped in 16 points apiece for Houston (1-0). Jones also grabbed 13 rebounds. Center Dwight Howard added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Guard Kobe Bryant finished with 19 points to lead Los Angeles (0-1), while forward Carlos Boozer had 17 points. Reserve forward Ed Davis scored 11 points for the Lakers.
It was the first meeting between Bryant and Howard since the latter bolted the Lakers before the beginning of last season and joined the Rockets as a free agent. The friction between the two boiled over in the fourth quarter, when the two exchanged words midway through the fourth quarter after Howard was called for elbowing with Bryant defending him. They both received technical fouls on the play.
Los Angeles also received a blow when rookie forward Julius Randle left the court on a stretcher after suffering an apparent leg injury in the fourth quarter. TNT reported Randle broke his right leg. Randle had two points in 14 minutes.
The Rockets dictated for much of the contest, building a double-digit lead in the first quarter and coasting. They held a 62-45 advantage at intermission with Harden scoring 22 points.
The Rockets’ 3-point shooting played a major factor in the first half. Houston converted eight of 16 shots (50 percent) from behind the arc, while the Lakers managed two of five (40 percent).
Los Angeles opened the third quarter with a 14-4 run to cut the deficit to 66-59 after two free throws by center Jordan Hill. However, Harden delivered a three-point play and helped Houston regain control. The Rockets carried an 85-69 lead into the fourth quarter.
NOTES: Houston took three of the four meetings against Los Angeles last season, averaging 130.6 points per game in the wins. The Rockets also averaged 18.3 points in those margin-of victories. … Lakers G Kobe Bryant, who began his 19th season, is now tied with former Utah Jazz G John Stockton for the NBA record of most seasons played with one franchise. … Lakers G Wayne Ellington (concussion), F Ryan Kelly (sore right hamstring), G Steve Nash (back) and Nick Young (torn ligament, right thumb) did not play. … Rockets C Clint Capela missed the game with a groin injury. … Both teams will play back-to-back games Wednesday. Houston visits the Utah Jazz, while the Lakers head to Phoenix to face the Suns.
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