O'Neal, who played just 32 minutes, had 11 rebounds and was 7-of-18 from the foul ine.
Kobe Bryant added 29 points for the Lakers, who took control with a 20-6 run for a 91-73 lead with 25 seconds left in the third quarter.
Despite having three centers and a starting forward out, Houston kept the game close until the Lakers' third-quarter spurt.
The Rockets' Hakeem Olajuwon, on the injured list since Jan. 9 with a swollen right knee, did not make the trip. Kelvin Cato is out with a torn rotator cuff, and Carlos Rogers, who has been given time off to attend his grandfather's funeral, missed his fifth consecutive game.
Kenny Thomas, a 6-foot-7 forward, was one of the Rockets assigned to guard the 7-1 O'Neal. He didn't even bother jumping othe opening tip against last season's MVP.
The Lakers were up 59-53 at halftime, with Francis' 15 points, 12 in the first quarter, helping keep the Rockets in the game.
O'Neal already had 25 points by halftime, although he had only five rebounds. Bryant had 14 points and their Los Angeles teammates had a total of only 19 points, seven of those by Rider.
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