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 HOUSTON (AP) -The Houston Rockets did more than extend their winning streak on Sunday. They validated it.
Rafer Alston scored 31 points and hit eight 3-pointers, both career highs, and the Rockets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 104-92 to extend their streak to 22 and claim sole possession of first place in the Western Conference.
Kobe Bryant scored 24 points for the Lakers and smothered Tracy McGrady on defense, helping hold the Houston star to 11 points on 4-for-16 shooting.
The rest of the Rockets made up for it. Shane Battier scored 14 points and shadowed Bryant most of the game. Backup point guard Bobby Jackson added 19 points and Luis Scola had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Rockets have won 26 of their last 27 games and 31 of their last 34. They've won 15 straight at the Toyota Center, 10 straight since Yao Ming went out with a broken foot and 11 of their last 13 games by double digits.
The Lakers have lost three of their last four. They played without Pau Gasol, who's out with a sprained ankle.
Pistons 105, Hornets 84
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) - Jarvis Hayes scored 29 points, including a career-high seven 3-pointers, to lead Detroit to the win.
Chauncey Billups finished with 17 points and Tayshaun Prince scored 13 for the Pistons, who have won four of five.
The Hornets lost for just the second time in seven games. New Orleans was missing David West, who sprained his right ankle Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
New Orleans got 21 points from Peja Stojakovic and Chris Paul added 14 points and 14 assists.
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