(Sports Network) - The two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers hope to put a halt on a rare two-game losing streak at Staples Center when they resume a five-game residency against the Houston Rockets.
The Lakers won the opener of their current homestand against Utah but followed that up with losses to Sacramento and their arch-rival Boston on Sunday. The Celtics' Paul Pierce finished with a team-high 32 points and Ray Allen poured in 21, as Boston defeated Los Angeles, 109-96, in a rematch of last year's NBA Finals.
The Lakers, of course, defeated Boston in an epic seven-game series last June to win their 16th NBA crown and deny the Celtics their 18th.
Kobe Bryant tied a season-high with 41 points for Los Angeles, which has lost three of five overall. Lamar Odom had 15 points off the bench in defeat.
"Unfortunately there were two halves to the game today," Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said. "I was pleased with the first half, but they put us on our heels in the second half. They got almost everything they wanted."
Los Angeles, which will finish its current homestand on Thursday against the NBA's best team so far this season, San Antonio, is now just 1-5 against the league's other top contenders, Boston, Miami, Chicago, the Spurs and Dallas. The Lakers will then set off on a seven-game road trip while the Grammys take over Staples Center.
The Rockets, meanwhile, fell to 0-2 on a four-game road swing on Saturday in San Antonio when Manu Ginobili poured in 22 points and the Spurs won their 18th in a row at home with a 108-95 decision over Houston.
Luis Scola had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who nearly rallied from a 25-point deficit in their last game, at Dallas on Thursday, before losing 111-106. Houston was within five points early in the final quarter on Saturday, but faltered down the stretch. Kyle Lowry had 15 points and seven assists.
"They've had a great year so far. They move the ball very well," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said of the Spurs. "They're very unselfish. They've got a lot of guys that can contribute for them. They have all the ingredients of a team that's going to be very difficult to beat."
Houston, which will finish its trek in Utah on Wednesday, snapped a three-game skid to the Lakers with a 109-99 win in south Texas on Dec. 1. LA, however, did top the Rockets in Hollywood on Oct. 26 and had won four of five over Houston on the left coast.
For more on the Rockets, check out The Dream Shake