While Metta World Peace tried to do his part, the Los Angeles Lakers couldn't overcome the loss of three frontcourt players, including a pair of All-Stars, during their opener to a brief road trip through Texas.
The Lakers will attempt to end that two-game trek on a more positive note Wednesday night but have the daunting task of trying to snap the San Antonio Spurs' 10-game home win streak.
Dwight Howard (shoulder), Pau Gasol (concussion) and reserve Jordan Hill (hip) are out indefinitely for Los Angeles (15-19), and Gasol is expected to be re-evaluated Thursday. Even without those players, the Lakers were competitive for much of their visit to Houston on Tuesday, leading by 14 points in the first quarter, but ultimately couldn't keep up with one of the league's top scoring teams, falling 125-112 for a fourth straight defeat.
World Peace had a season-high 24 points but Kobe Bryant failed to top 25 for the first time in 18 games, finishing with 20 on 8-of-22 shooting.
"I thought we had the better team," World Peace said. "We definitely had the better team, but every night we have the better team and it's just not translating to wins.
"We've just got to move forward. We don't have time to feel bad for anyone."
The Lakers' chances to end their brief trip with a win don't appear promising against the Southwest Division-leading Spurs (27-10). San Antonio, though, has lost two of three after winning a season-high seven in a row and fell 95-88 in a visit to the Western Conference's last-place team, New Orleans, on Monday.
The Spurs were hindered by 19 turnovers, which led to 23 points for the Hornets, and a 5-of-14 shooting performance from Tim Duncan. He had 13 points while Tony Parker was the only starter to outscore him with 16. Manu Ginobili had a team-best 21 points off the bench.
"We played a well-coached, aggressive, well-executing team," coach Gregg Popovich said. "They did a great job at both ends of the court. They just whipped us."
The Spurs, though, will try to get back in the win column and extend their longest home streak since a franchise-record, 22-game run Dec. 3, 2010-March 4, 2011. San Antonio has won three in a row over Los Angeles, including an 84-82 road victory Nov. 13.
Danny Green hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 9.3 seconds left in that game, but the Spurs won more comfortably during the most recent matchup in San Antonio on April 20. Duncan had 21 points, and Parker and Ginobili scored 20 apiece in a 121-97 victory.
"(Playing the Lakers) is always a good test," Ginobili said. "They've got heart. They play hard. We now need that win. We want to keep that (home) win streak going, but we have to play better."
The Lakers have won in two of its past three visits to San Antonio and World Peace had a team-best 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting in the latest of those victories, 98-84 on April 11.
Bryant was held out of that game because of an injured left shin. He had 28 points on 12-of-19 shooting in the loss to San Antonio in November. The Spurs shot just 38.9 percent in that game and had three players in double figures, led by Parker with 19 points and Duncan with 18.
The Lakers haven't lost five in a row since April 3-10, 2011.