LOS ANGELES -- Give credit to Los Angeles Lakers fans. At least their vocal cords still work.
They've had numbingly little to cheer this season, so they turned their frustration into anger at Dwight Howard in his first road game against his former team.
He was booed when he took the floor for a workout an hour before tipoff. He was booed much more loudly during Wednesday's pregame introductions at Staples Center. And whenever he touched the ball.
But it was obvious who would get the last chuckle long before the game ended.
Howard had 20 points and 13 rebounds as the Houston Rockets pounded the Lakers, 134-108.
It was the Lakers' worst home loss ever to Houston, outdoing a 25-point blowout in 1993, and it marked the latest indignity to hit them on the night they traded Steve Blake to Golden State for two rarely used players.
Total savings for the Lakers, who received young shooting guards Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks -- about $4 million in salary and luxury taxes.
Whether Pau Gasol is still on the team after Thursday's noon trade deadline remains to be seen, though there's almost too little time to make a move involving his weighty $19.3 million salary.
Gasol is still coveted by Phoenix, but the Lakers and Suns can't quite strike a deal. The Suns haven't received assurances from Gasol that he will stay with them beyond this season, a key part in the lack of progress. He becomes a free agent July 1.
Gasol didn't play against Houston because of a strained groin. The Lakers basically joined him, failing to show up after the first 10 minutes and extending a team record by losing their eighth consecutive home game.
Howard had his way with whomever was thrown at him, making nine of 14 shots and sitting out the fourth quarter. Why not? The Rockets led after three, 104-75.
"I think he came out and wanted to make a statement and stuff," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He's good and he played well."
Some of Howard's teammates poked fun at a derogatory fourth-quarter chant leveled at him by Lakers fans, rhythmically moving their arms like an opera conductor in unison with the two-word chant. Howard laughed and briefly waved his arms as well.
"I think it got everybody (going), my teammates," Howard said of the boos.
And what does he miss most about L.A.?
"Sprinkles, that's my spot," Howard said of the cupcake shop. "Even though I can't eat a lot of them, every Sunday."
Jodie Meeks and Jordan Farmar returned from injuries, but the Lakers dressed only eight players on the way to an 18-36 record. Kendall Marshall had 20 points and 16 assists.
"We're just undermanned right now," D'Antoni said. "You lose Steve Blake and you've got to retool and management will do that.
"He was a joy to coach ... one of the toughest guys that I've ever coached. Any team that wants to win, he'd be a nice piece."
(Correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.)
(c)2014 Los Angeles Times
Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services