HOUSTON Tracy McGrady had carried the Houston Rockets through their winning streak since Yao Ming went down with a foot injury.
On Sunday, it was everyone else's turn to help him.
Rafer Alston scored 31 points and hit eight 3-pointers, both career highs, and the Rockets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 104-92 to stretch their streak to 22 and claim sole possession of first place in the Western Conference.
Kobe Bryant scored 24 points for the Lakers and smothered McGrady on defense, helping hold the Houston star to 11 points on 4-for-16 shooting.
The rest of the Rockets made up for it. Shane Battier scored 14 points and shadowed Bryant most of the game, backup point guard Bobby Jackson added 19 points and Luis Scola had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
"There wasn't a time where we wavered from successful team basketball," Battier said. "Different guys hit shots and we tightened the reins on defense."
The Rockets have won 26 of their last 27 games and 31 of their last 34. They've won 15 straight at the Toyota Center, 10 straight since Yao went out with a broken foot and 11 of their last 13 games by double digits.
Houston haven't been beaten since a 97-89 loss to Utah on Jan. 27.
"Let's keep it going," McGrady said. "This was a good test for us. We came out and took care of business."
The Lakers have lost three of their last four. They played without Pau Gasol, who's out with a sprained ankle.
NUGGETS 168, SUPERSONICS 116: At Denver, Carmelo Anthony scored 26 points, Allen Iverson had 24 and Marcus Camby had a triple-double and Denver set an NBA season high for points in a half and a game with a 168-112 win over Seattle. The 168 points are the most Denver has scored in a game since Jan. 11, 1984, against San Antonio. It is also the most the Nuggets have scored in regulation.
The Nuggets, who led by as many as 55 in the fourth quarter, fell 16 points shy of the franchise record, set in a 186-184 triple-overtime loss to Detroit on Dec. 13, 1983.
PISTONS 105, HORNETS 84: At Auburn Hills, Mich., Jarvis Hayes scored 29 points, including a career-high seven 3-pointers, to lead Detroit to the win. Chauncey Billups finished with 17 points and Tayshaun Prince scored 13 for the Pistons, who have won four of five.
The Hornets lost for just the second time in seven games. New Orleans was missing David West, who sprained his right ankle Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
New Orleans got 21 points from Peja Stojakovic and Chris Paul added 14 points and 14 assists.
CAVALIERS 98, BOBCATS 91: At Cleveland, LeBron James scored 33 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 16 points and nine rebounds for Cleveland. Ben Wallace scored his only two baskets of the game, Delonte West added a jumper and James hit a bank shot in the lane in the final 2 minutes as the Cavaliers held on after nearly squandering an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
Jason Richardson scored nine straight points, including two 3-pointers and a three-point play to spark Charlotte's comeback. He finished with 33 points.
Ilgauskas returned to the starting lineup after missing seven games with an inflamed disk in his lower back. The Cavaliers have won a season-high seven straight at home.
MAVERICKS 98, HEAT 73: At Miami, Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points before sitting out most of the second half, and Dallas stormed out to a huge early lead on the way to the win. Josh Howard added 15 for the Mavericks, who led by 20 points midway through the opening quarter and have beaten the Heat in each of the teams' past eight regular-season meetings. Brandon Bass and Jason Terry each scored 14 and Jerry Stackhouse had 12 for Dallas, which snapped a three-game road losing skid and won their fifth straight overall.
Earl Barron scored a career-high 21 for Miami, which set a season low in points and is a league-worst 11-54.
HAWKS 109, KNICKS 98: At New York, Joe Johnson had 28 points and 11 assists, and Atlanta moved into a tie for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Marvin Williams added 25 points for the Hawks, who used their athleticism to break open what was only a five-point game early in the final quarter. Reserve Josh Childress had 14 of his 22 points in the second half and added nine rebounds. Atlanta (28-38) hasn't made the playoffs since 1999, the NBA's longest drought. The Hawks tied New Jersey for eighth place in the East, and following a game in Washington on Monday, they visit the Nets on Wednesday night.
Nate Robinson scored 23 points for the Knicks, who have lost eight of nine.
KINGS 106, RAPTORS 100: At Sacramento, Kevin Martin scored 32 points and had eight rebounds to help Sacramento hold off struggling Toronto. Ron Artest added 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Mikki Moore scored 17 for the Kings, who have won three of four games. Jason Kapono scored 26 points off the bench for the Raptors, who have lost four straight and five of six. Rasho Nesterovic added 20 points and eight rebounds for Toronto.