After just two practices and two games together, Kobe Bryant already can see Mike D’Antoni’s ideas and schemes making improvements to the L.A Lakers.
Though a triple-double isn’t usually part of Bryant’s game plan, he enthusiastically picked it up together with another win for a team which has been revitalized before their new coach has even taken the court.
Bryant had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for his 18th career triple-double, and the Lakers ran past the Rockets 119-108 Sunday night for their 4th victory in 5 games since firing Coach Mike Brown.
Dwight Howard had 28 points and 13 rebounds, and Pau Gasol scored his 15,000th career point among his 17 as the Lakers returned to .500 by running away from their 2nd straight opponent since D’Antoni took over their practices. Although D’Antoni and his surgically replaced knee have not actually appeared on L.A’ bench yet, his new team is already playing with passion and fluidity it had not showed during a miserable start to the season. Baseball spreads
D’Antoni watched his 2nd straight game from the Lakers’ locker room while interim Coach Bernie Bickerstaff ran the bench.
Bickerstaff’s job is secure after the Lakers ran away from the Houston Rockets in the 2nd half. From Bryant’s pointed passes to Howard’s rim-rocking, 2-handed slams, L.A played with flair, even while point guard Steve Nash missed his 8th straight game with a small fracture in his leg.
The Lakers already are running a big bit of D’Antoni’s playbook, and it showed in a 2nd straight free-flowing victory for a team that followed an 0-8 preseason with a 1-4 start, leading to Brown’s dismissal just 9 days back. The Lakers scored 114 points while beating Phoenix Suns 2 days ago. Baseball spreads
Chandler Parsons scored 24 points and James Harden had 20 for the Rockets, who’ve lost 6 of 8. Coach Kevin McHale missed his 4th straight game during a leave of absence to deal with a family matter.
Darius Morris scored a career-high 12 points for the Lakers while doing a reasonable defensive job on Jeremy Lin, who had 10 assists but just five points on 2-of-9 shooting. Lin visited with D’Antoni after the game, recalling their remarkable few months together last season in New York.
With an offensive bounce with 5 1/2 minutes to play, Bryant recorded his 1st triple-double since Nov. 3, 2010, at Sacramento. The NBA’s fifth-leading career scorer was in top form, breaking down defenders and hitting acrobatic shots with the aptitude of his best games.
But Bryant does not need to win games by himself, and the rest of the Lakers were sharp too. Howard attacked the basket relentlessly while his squad set him up for high-percentage shots, and Metta World Peace contributed 15 points.
With a smooth jumper in the 2nd half, Gasol became the 10th foreign-born player and the 1st Spaniard to score 15,000 NBA points. The 4-time All-Star has won two titles with the Lakers, and the Staples Center fans gave him an ovation when his attainment was announced.