We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 119-108 victory over Houston:
Career points scored by Pau Gasol, a mark he reached in the third quarter on Kobe Bryant’s 10th assist, to make him one of only 10 foreign born players to ever reach that number. The others: Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria), Dominique Wilkins (France), Patrick Ewing (Jamaica), Dirk Nowitzki (Germany), Tim Duncan (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). Quite a list for the Spaniard to join. “That’s a huge accomplishment,” said Bryant, a teammate of Gasol’s for six years. “He is one of the greatest international players to ever come to our game and it’s extremely well deserved.”
Points per game average of the Lakers in their last two victories, since they began to open things up under what Mike D’Antoni will continue to install as the season progresses. “Every day, there’s a little more,” Bickerstaff said. “What’s important is it’s best to do a few things well and get it down because all of those things have options out of it. We put a few things in; let’s work on the repetition, get it down and then expand.”
Percent of games won by the Lakers under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, who acknowledged the small sample size by saying he’d be allowed to pick the flavor of the popsicle to which he was entitled. Bickerstaff deferred credit to the players and coaches, humbly saying he just got out of the way, but his direct leadership did have a positive impact on the court. “When you have success, your confidence goes up and you believe in certain things,” Bickerstaff said. “That’s what has happened, and we’re still missing a big item in Steve Nash.”
Fast break points scored by the Lakers, a category in which they don’t typically do so well, sparked by 10 steals (Bryant’s three and two apiece from Darius Morris and Chris Duhon leading the way). “It’s 73-69, we had a turnover and the next thing you know, the floodgates (opened),” Rockets acting head coach Kelvin Sampson said. “Here you can’t just turn the ball over, get this crowd going and get those guys some confidence.”
Career triple-doubles for Bryant, the latest coming in the 10th game of his 17th season. Bryant was terrific in all aspects of the game on Sunday, totaling 22 points (9 of 18 field goals), 11 assists, 11 rebounds plus three steals. Bryant ran the offense for L.A. throughout his 35 minutes on the floor, most often out of the high pick and roll sets that Steve Nash will operate once he returns.
Career high point total for Darius Morris, who added five assists and drew the post game praise of Bryant, who’s been proud of what the youngster’s offered in his three starts filling in for Steve Nash and Steve Blake.