NBA: Blake's late 3-pointer lifts Lakers over Howard's Rockets

HOUSTON (AFP) - Steve Blake's three-pointer with 1.3 seconds remaining lifted the Los Angeles Lakers to a 99-98 NBA victory Thursday over Houston and former Laker Dwight Howard.

Howard, who never seemed to settle in with the Lakers last season and inked a four-year, US$88 million deal with the Rockets in July, had 15 points and 14 rebounds.

But he made just 5-of-16 from the free throw line, including two crucial misses with 53.8 seconds left and the Rockets leading 98-96.

"The free throws were terrible," Howard said. "I've got to keep working ...

I've just got to get back in the gym and keep working - they're going to fall."

Howard said the defeat - after Houston had battled back to take the lead after trailing by as many as 19 points - was hard to swallow, regardless of the opponent.

"Nobody likes to lose," he said. "So it's very upsetting that we lost the way we did."

James Harden led the Rockets with 35 points.