Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday evening contest against Houston, new coach Mike D’Antoni watching from the locker room while continuing to recover from knee replacement surgery, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Morris, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Howard
Rockets: J. Lin, J. Harden, C. Parsons, P. Patterson, O. Asik
7:25 Just over four minutes into the game, and the Rockets had already attempted five triples, hitting their first three to take an 11-8 lead. Look for more of the same, as Houston has almost no interior scoring between Omer Asik and Patrick Patterson, while James Harden, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons all like gettin’ ‘em up from deep.
0:00 Remember how Mike D’Antoni figured this team should average between 110-115 points per game? Well, they dropped 114 against Phoenix on Friday, starting with 35 in the first quarter. And on this night, they were even better, exploding for 40 on 17 of 23 field goals (74 percent). Kobe was very much en route to a triple-double with 11 points, seven boards and five assists, his team leading by 11.
5:00 Houston started the second quarter well with L.A.’s bench failing to get back in transition, but a Darius Morris triple kept the lead in double digits (57-47) a few moments later. It was the fourth triple for the Lakers, one more than Houston despite a 3-for-3 start (0 for 6 after).
0:00 What a start to his 17th NBA season for Bryant, who came in leading the NBA in scoring and +/-, and went for 11 points, nine assists and seven boards in 20 first half minutes to help the Lakers to a 68-60 lead. His triple-double would come quickly, while his center helped out with 18 points (8 of 10 field goals) and seven boards of his own.
6:00 So many things were going right for the Lakers as the crowd awed and ooh’d, with Bryant’s 10th assist finding Gasol for his sixth bucket, which happened to get him to 15,000 points in his terrific career. Only nine other foreign born players hit that mark: Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946 / Nigeria), Dominique Wilkins (26,668 / France), Patrick Ewing (24,815 / Jamaica), Dirk Nowitzki (24,134 / Germany), Tim Duncan (22,722 / U.S. Virgin Islands), Rolando Blackman (17,623 / Panama), Steve Nash (16,658 / South Africa), Kiki Vandeweghe (15,980 / Germany) and Detlef Schrempf (15,761 / West Germany). And, by the way, the Lakers were up 86-72 after Bryant nailed an and-1 three.
0:00 L.A. pushed its lead to as many as 16, but the Rockets kept fighting, getting it back to single digits before consecutive Gasol hoops gave the Spaniard 17 points (7 of 12 shooting). Two Jordan Hill free throws then pushed the lead back to 14, but the Lakers fell asleep on the final defensive possession to allow the second Marcus Morris corner three of the quarter, and thus led 98-87 heading into the fourth.
5:45 Bryant’s 18th career triple-double was completed with an offensive rebound, and he’d add another board on the other end to get to 20 points, 10 dimes and 11 boards. Not bad. Meanwhile, L.A. remained comfortably up by double-digits, the shooting percentage at 56 percent.
0:00 An enjoyable night at Staples Center ended with a 119-108 victory, the Lakers again cruising to a boatload of points with Mike D’Antoni’s system starting to be installed, the key on this night Kobe Bryant running high screen and roll. His triple-double led the way, while Gasol’s 15,000 career points were a highlight and Howard added 28 points, 13 boards and three blocks. The Lakers improve to 5-5 on the season, winning four of five games at home. Up next are the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. See you there.