Notebook: Lakers 95, Nets 90



Posted Nov 21, 2012 2:54 AM

By Dan Arritt, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: The Lakers showed new coach Mike D'Antoni they can still win a low-scoring game if needed. D'Antoni, in his first game on the bench for L.A., watched Kobe Bryant shoot 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final 17 seconds to hold off the Nets 95-90 at Staples Center.

QUOTABLE: "First of all, it was great to be out there and great to be with the guys. That's what you coach for. "

-- D'Antoni

THE STAT: Despite a drop off in scoring from the previous two games, the Lakers still received solid offensive performances from their best scorers. Two days after securing the 18th triple-double of his career, Bryant had another well-balanced game, finishing with 25 points, four rebounds and five assists. Dwight Howard pitched in 23 points and 15 rebounds and Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace contributed 10 points apiece. Gasol came close to a triple-double, also totaling 11 rebounds and a team-high seven assists.

TURNING POINT: The Nets led by six points with just over five minutes remaining but missed seven of their next eight field-goal attempts, allowing the Lakers to chip away and retake the lead on a free throw by Gasol with 2:36 left. The first four free throws by Bryant in the final seconds extended the lead to three each time. After Brooklyn point guard Deron Williams missed a long 3-pointer with one second on the clock, Bryant sealed the win with his final two free throws.

HOT: Bryant made his first five shots, each from 17 feet out or further, helping the Lakers win the opening quarter, 29-23. He finished 8-for-15 from the floor, the eighth time this season he has shot 50 percent or better. Nets center Brook Lopez had the hot hand for the visitors, converting 11 of 18 shots for a team-high 23 points.

NOT: Other teams will likely copy Brooklyn's blueprint and begin fouling Howard intentionally. The Nets used that tactic in the fourth quarter and it nearly paid off as he shot 3-for-10 from the line in the fourth and 7-for-19 overall.

GOOD MOVE: Bryant committed his second foul with 6:07 left in the opening quarter and it appeared D'Antoni wanted to take him out. Bryant held up a finger, as if asking for one more chance, and D'Antoni obliged, sending Chris Duhon in for Darius Morris instead. Bryant then responded by making four consecutive baskets to end the quarter. ... D'Antoni also shortened his bench in the second half, keeping Antawn Jamison on the bench and letting World Peace play most of the way.

BAD MOVE: D'Antoni said after the game that he's going to play his stars a bunch and he did. That might work for players like Bryant, World Peace and Gasol, but he should probably be more protective of Howard, who is coming back from offseason back surgery. Instead, he played Howard a season-high 41 minutes, a bit much considering the Lakers have three road games in the next four nights.

QUOTABLE II: "They make a lot of money. They're going to earn every cent of it."

-- D'Antoni on playing his top players heavy minutes

NOTABLE: The Lakers have won five of six and are above .500 for the first time this season. ... The Nets have lost nine straight against the Lakers. ... The Nets had their five-game winning streak ended. ... Lakers point guards Steve Nash (lower leg fracture) and Steve Blake (lower abdominal strain) will not play on the upcoming road trip, D'Antoni announced before the game.


UP NEXT: For the Lakers, Wednesday @ Sacramento, Friday @ Memphis, Saturday @ Dallas. For the Nets, Wednesday @ Golden State, Friday vs. L.A. Clippers, Sunday vs. Portland.