James Harden led Houston with 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting and added nine assists and six rebounds.
Metta World Peace had a team-high 24 points for the Lakers and added six rebounds and four steals. Kobe Bryant had 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
Houston shot 55 percent from the field as the Rockets exploited blown assignments and lack of interior presence from the Lakers. The Rockets scored a whopping 58 points in the paint and had their way with the second-string bigs.
Los Angeles had a chance to pull off the upset win, but a dismal third quarter doomed the purple and gold. The Rockets outscored the Lakers, 37-26, in the third behind red-hot shooting from the field (66.7 percent) and the three-point line (60 percent). Harden and Jeremy Lin had 11 points apiece during that span.
The loss marks the fourth straight for the Lakers and ties a season-high in that regard. They fell to 15-19 on the year and will have to face the San Antonio Spurs in the second leg of the "Texas two-step" road trip. Houston improved to 21-14.