The Lakers had to play short-handed. The Houston Rockets seem to have that problem every night.
When the Rockets' stars were healthy Tuesday, they showed why they believe they could challenge Los Angeles if they ever stay that way.
Tracy McGrady notched his fourth career triple-double, Yao Ming scored 32 points and the Rockets beat the Denver Nuggets 108-96.
McGrady had 20 points and reached season highs in rebounds (14) and assists (10) for his first triple-double since last December, while Ron Artest scored 20 points after missing two games with a sprained right ankle.
Starting point guard Rafer Alston was out with a strained left hamstring, but at least the Rockets had a chance to enjoy the McGrady-Yao-Artest trio - a rarity lately.
t will be a totally different story.''
The Lakers were without starting forward Pau Gasol because of strep throat, so Lamar Odom shook off his own illness with season-high totals of 17 points and 12 rebounds in his first start of the season, helping Los Angeles to a 116-114 victory over the New York Knicks.
``I think I have the flu. Who knows?'' Odom said afterward. ``Pau was out and I kind of willed myself to do it. Football mentality.''
In other NBA games Tuesday, it was: Charlotte 110, Chicago 101 in overtime; New Orleans 91, Memphis 84; the Los Angeles Clippers 98, Oklahoma City 88; and Portland 109, Sacramento 77.
In Los Angeles, the Lakers were booed off their home floor after trailing by 15 points at halftime, but Kobe Bryant scored nine of his 28 points in the last 7 1/2 minutes, and Trevor Ariza made the go-ahead basket with 1:03 remaining.
Los Angeles (21-3) won for the 14th time in 16 games.
``We remembered all the battles we've been through. We didn't panic,'' said Bryant, who also had seven rebounds, six assists and four steals. ``Just to be able to stay calm and push our way through, it was a good game for us to have.''
Nate Robinson scored a season-high 33 points for the Knicks, who completed a 2-3 road trip with banished guard Stephon Marbury in the Staples Center crowd watching.
Houston, the Rockets matched a season high with 26 assists, held the Nuggets to 35 points in the second half and shot a season-high 55 percent (42-of-76) from the field.
``It was, overall, a great effort on our part,'' said McGrady, who also had three blocked shots. ``We can be a dangerous team. When we've got the defense as well, clicking like that, we can be a pretty good team.''
Expected to be one of the Western Conference's strongest teams after acquiring Artest over the summer, the Rockets have been inconsistent while dealing with injuries to all three stars. With all three on the floor Tuesday, Houston snapped Denver's four-game winning streak.
``Yao really had it going, T-Mac hit timely shots and Artest did his part,'' Denver forward Carmelo Anthony said.
Anthony scored 22 and J.R. Smith had 17 for the Nuggets, who dropped to 16-5 since acquiring Chauncey Billups from Detroit on Nov. 3.
Hornets 91, Grizzlies 84
At Memphis, Tenn., Chris Paul had 18 points, nine assists and five steals, James Posey scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, and New Orleans snapped the Grizzlies' season-high, four-game winning streak.
David West also scored 18 points for the Hornets, who won for the fifth time in six games despite Paul going just 3-of-10 from the field.
points and O. J. Mayo added 20.
Clippers 98, Thunder 88
At Oklahoma City, Zach Randolph had 22 points and 13 rebounds and rookie Eric Gordon fueled a 10-point run in the fourth quarter as Los Angeles won its third straight.
Gordon finished with 22 points, Baron Davis scored 19, and Marcus Camby added 13 points and 15 rebounds. Los Angeles has won three straight for the first time since starting last season 4-0.
Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with 23 points. The Thunder are now 1-12 under interim coach Scott Brooks, the same record they had when P.J. Carlesimo was fired.
Bobcats 110, Bulls 101, OT
At Charlotte, N.C., D.J. Augustin scored a career-high 29 points while outplaying fellow rookie point guard Derrick Rose, and undermanned Charlotte snapped a seven-game losing streak.
Rose, the No. 1 pick in the draft, was held to six points on 3-of-16 shooting. Ben Gordon scored 25 points and Tyrus Thomas added 22 for the Bulls, who dropped to 3-10 on the road.
Emeka Okafor added 20 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks, and Raymond Felton scored 21 points for the Bobcats.
Trail Blazers 109, Kings 77
At Portland, Ore., Brandon Roy scored 29 points before sitting out the fourth quarter, LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Portland snapped a three-game losing streak.
Playing with a splint on his injured right pinkie finger, Roy fell just short of scoring 30 points for the fourth straight game. The All-Star guard tore a tendon in his finger while scoring a career-high 38 against the Los Angeles Clippers last Friday.
John Salmons had 16 of his 21 points in the first quarter for the Kings, who fell to 1-1 under interim coach Kenny Natt, who took over for the fired Reggie Theus on Monday.

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