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Lakers vs. Rockets final score: Shorthanded Lakers lose 134-108

Dwight Howard faced the Staples Center crowd against the Lakers for the first time. Let's forget this happened.

Stephen Dunn

The Los Angeles Lakers started off their post All-Star weekend campaign with a 134-108 loss to the Houston Rockets in their first game back. The loss comes just hours after the team completed a trade to send point guard Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for wings MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore, leaving the team shorthanded for an entirely different reason on this February night.

Does it sting to see Dwight Howard triumph so decisively over the Lakers in the Rockets first away game against the purple and gold this season? Eh, not as much as it could have. This depleted group of players getting thumped by Houston doesn't have the same sting as a Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol led team getting K.O.'d, so there's the upside to the loss.

The Lakers' eight active players were simply never in position to claim a victory in this one. Howard did it all for Houston, smashing the rim with dunks on his way to 20 points, 13 rebounds, "Howard sucks" chants and the like. He's been a consistent force in Houston in his first season as a Rocket and looked like the player the Lakers franchise was hoping to have for a new era.

Much like he dismantled Orlando on the road last season, he went to work against the Lakers in Los Angeles. Houston led by as many as 35 points in the fourth quarter, building the lead even though Howard called it an early night after putting in 28 minutes.

This is where the Lakers are now. The team is tied with the Sacramento Kings for the worst record in the Western Conference. One of their potential 2014 draft targets, Australian point guard Dante Exum, attended the game along with his agent Rob Pelinka. He got a first hand look at the type of storm the franchise is currently engulfed in, so there's that.

Another day in paradise for the Lakers.

The trade deadline is next on the agenda, with the odds looking as if Jordan Hill will be the next Laker to be sent away. Stay tuned, the deadline ticks over at noon pacific time on Thursday. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to bleach my eyes and go to bed like this game never happened. Because it didn't.

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