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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Houston Rockets 29 31 27 21 108
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 40 28 30 21 119
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Lakers rip Rockets 119-108 for 4th win in 5 games

By GREG BEACHAM


Posted Nov 19 2012 12:03AM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for his 18th career triple-double, and the revitalized Los Angeles Lakers ran past the Houston Rockets 119-108 Sunday night for their fourth victory in five 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 second straight opponent since coach Mike D'Antoni took over their practices.

D'Antoni watched his second straight game from the Lakers' locker room while interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff ran the bench. D'Antoni decided earlier Sunday to delay his debut, giving him a few more days to recover from recent knee replacement surgery.

Chandler Parsons scored 24 points and James Harden had 20 for the Rockets, who have lost six of eight.

Bickerstaff improved to 4-1 while filling in for Brown and D'Antoni, who announced the longtime NBA coach and executive will remain on his staff - as long as the Lakers beat Houston, D'Antoni joked.

Bickerstaff's job is secure, and the Lakers finally are starting to play with a flair worthy of their loaded roster, even while point guard Steve Nash missed his eighth straight game with a small fracture in his leg.

The Lakers already are running a significant portion of D'Antoni's playbook, and it showed in a second straight free-flowing victory for a team that followed an 0-8 preseason with a 1-4 start, leading to Brown's dismissal just nine days ago. The Lakers scored 114 points while beating Phoenix two days ago.

With an offensive rebound with 5 1/2 minutes to play, Bryant recorded his first 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 flair of his best games.

But Bryant doesn't have to win games by himself, and the rest of the Lakers were sharp as well. Howard attacked the basket relentlessly while his teammates set him up for high-percentage shots, and Metta World Peace contributed 15 points.

With a smooth jumper in the second half, Gasol became the 10th foreign-born player and the first Spaniard to score 15,000 NBA points. The four-time All-Star has won two titles with the Lakers, and the Staples Center fans gave him an ovation when his achievement was announced.

Starting point guard Darius Morris scored a career-high 12 points while doing a decent defensive job on Jeremy Lin, who had 10 assists but just five points on 2-of-9 shooting.

NOTES: Houston concludes its three-game trip Monday at Utah. ... Shortly after D'Antoni confirmed Bickerstaff is staying with the team, the Lakers formally announced Dan D'Antoni will join the staff as an assistant. Mike D'Antoni's older brother has been in practice with the Lakers since Thursday. ... Houston C Omer Asik left the game in the first half with a cut over his right eye, but returned for the second half after getting five stitches.


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Points Howard, 28
Rebounds Howard, 13
Assists Bryant, 11
Blocks Howard, 4
Steals Bryant, 3
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Bernie Bickerstaff:

On the offense:
“54% [from the field], and 45% [from the 3-point line]. We’re getting good shots and we’re knocking them down. I thought we still had a little problem early with our defense, our down defense. That stretch where we took off a little bit, our defense got a little better, we got more aggressive. That team, the way they get that ball out, when that ball goes in the basket, it’s out, first pass they’re down the court taking shots. Eventually, that’s where we want to be. It’s not a break-neck speed, it’s the pass, the long pass, and it’s hard to outrun the ball. That’s basically where we’re trying to get to; get the ball out of bounds and let’s get it down, if there’s something good, fine. It also gives you a chance to have more time in your offense, in terms of the 24 second shot-clock.”

On how much of Mike D’Antoni’s system has been implemented:
“Every day there’s a little more. What’s important, it’s best to do a few things well and get it down because all of those things, they have options off of it. We put a few things in, they’re in, let’s work on the repetition, get it down, and then expand.”

On giving up 100+ points in two straight games:
“The two teams we’ve played will have a lot of shot attempts because that’s the way they play. Phoenix plays that way, and Houston plays that way, so there are a lot of attempts, and that’s the way they play. Sometimes they’ll give up a basket just to try to go back down and get one, so that explains that. At least that’s how a basketball coach would explain that.”

On how this experience will help Darius Morris:
“That was one thing that we just talked about. The fact that Nash has been out, the kid has had an opportunity to play. You don’t get experience through osmosis. He’s had an opportunity to play and I think it’s terrific for him, and his confidence.”

On how quickly the team has turned around:
“They were in the process. If you go back to the day before we played, we talked about how we were prepared to play that game. We had one of the best practices that we had had. The progress from that point, I think the guys have been playing, and when you have some success your confidence goes up and you believe in certain things. That’s what has happened, and we’re still missing a big item when you talk about Steve Nash. The positive is the young kids getting a chance to play; Duhon’s getting a chance to play. He is someone who is familiar with this particular offense because he was there in New York.”




Kobe Bryant:

On the game:
“We just spaced the floor well. We shot the ball pretty well and seemed to make the right decisions.”

On Pau Gasol’s reaching 15,000 points:
“That’s a huge accomplishment. He is one of the greatest international players to ever come to our game and it’s extremely well deserved.”

On Dwight Howard:
“He opens up the floor for us and gets shooters a lot of their looks. Defensively, he’s our anchor. He’s really changed a great deal of shots.”

On Darius Morris:
“He is playing extremely well. He is playing with a great deal of maturity on both ends of the floor. I feel like he’s really doing a fantastic job defensively for us.”

On keeping momentum:
“Come out and play well. Play with a lot of energy. Execute well. Read the defense well.”




Pau Gasol:

On reaching 15,000 points:
“It feels good. I think it’s something to be proud of and I’m happy to be able to have reached this milestone but I want to continue. I want to continue to be as productive as I’ve been throughout my career, and it feels good. It’s a big milestone to reach.”

On playing within the middle of the coaching change:
“I’d say both had something to do with it because Mike (D’Antoni) hasn’t been able to coach all of us on the floor but we’re running some of the actions that he wants us to run and one or two actions that we’ve been running with Bernie before Mike (D’Antoni) got here. So where just playing free Sunday basketball right now and making good decisions with the ball. Kobe is playing excellent off the pick and roll and Darius also played really well. We’re just playing off that for the most part.”

On his expectations in the NBA:
“I just wanted to be successful. I just wanted to make it and earn respect and succeed, and hopefully make people proud of what I was doing and make myself proud of myself. So that’s what I always try to do on a daily basis and so far I’ve gotten to this point and it’s been I think pretty good.”




Darius Morris:

On tonight’s performance and shooting:
“I’m just thanking my teammates in giving me that confidence and thank god most importantly, but also my coaching staff as well just telling me to go out there and play. They’re just trying to simplify it for me. Steve Nash has been giving me some great advice as well, so people around me are really helping me.”




Dwight Howard:

On the key to his shooting tonight:
“[The key was] just being aggressive and taking my time. You know last game I kind of rushed and got into it with one of their players. I just wanted to make sure I stayed focused and stayed composed out there.”

On the running pace of the new offense:
“We get tired faster, but you know we’ll get better. It takes time. Once we all get in great shape, it’s going to be tough for teams to play us, especially when we run that offense.”

On playing together as a team, and as a duo with Kobe Bryant:
“We all got to get better at it. You know me and Kobe really got to get better at playing together, but it takes time. We’re trying to read each other, and at the same time we both want to be aggressive, so we just got to learn how to play and mix our talents together and win games.”




Kelvin Sampson:

On the Rockets’ overall performance:
“The game was essentially lost in the first quarter. It was 40-29 after the first quarter. The game was even after that. I just didn’t like our resistance tonight. You come into competition and you got to come with an edge. It’s just a mindset. I thought we were performing tonight rather than competing. You come in here, in this environment, with a team (Lakers) with that many weapons, and you know as the year goes on they’re (Lakers) only going to get better and better, they’re not going to take many steps backwards, they’re just to talented to do that. ”

On the Rockets’ intensity tonight:
“This was uncharacteristic for us. Every game we’ve played, whether it’s Miami, or Portland on the road, wherever, we’ve competed all year, but I did not like the way we competed tonight.”

Rockets’ acting head coach Kelvin Sampson on the Rockets’ defense tonight: I didn’t like the ‘physicalness’ of our post defense. I didn’t like the ‘physicalness’ of our impact on the ball. Everything was just too easy for them tonight. We didn’t make it hard enough.”

On the Rockets’ turnovers:
“The score was 73-69. We had the ball. We’re down four. We’re sitting over there thinking we can win this game. Its 73-69 and we had a turnover and the next thing you know the floodgates go. We battled back, but here you just can’t turn the ball over and get this crowd going and get those guys some confidence. But you know we have a lot of high character guys so we’ll learn from this and move on.”

On defending the new Lakers offense:
“From a defensive coaching standpoint looking at the other team you’ve got to guard them. They’re going to have games where they can score in the eighties and nineties. Just because they have a new offense, doesn’t mean they’re going to score 120. You know if you don’t guard them, they’re going to look good. I think if you guard them they’re just like any other team you make it tough for them to score.”




Jeremy Lin:


“That’s the way the system is designed. There is so much space, there is so much freedom. Someone is going to get a good shot most of the time. You saw how well the ball got distributed but to be honest we’re a lot better than that defensively. They made their system look good and we also made them look good today by not defending the way we know we’re capable of. ”

On moving on from the first quarter:
“We did not have enough desperation and hunger. Offensively, defensively, energy wise altogether. It was definitely disappointing in terms of our effort and mindset.”




Chandler Parsons:

On tonight’s defense:
“Obviously they are very talented. It’s almost like Kobe draws so much attention that everyone has to help in, which allows Pau to get open shots, which allows Artest and other guys to get open threes. Dwight is still on the weak side. They are a tough team and they had some big shots. I feel like right from the tip tonight we didn’t have energy, we didn’t have that same passion that we did in the Portland game.”

On going up against a different Kobe Bryant:
“It’s different. This year he is in so much pick and roll as to last year; they used him differently. The first quarter he was just creating, coming off pick and roll and just distributing. He’s obviously going to get his points. I don’t know what he shot from the field but he’s a great player and it’s definitely a different Kobe this year with the ball in his hands instead of playing without it.”




James Harden:

On moving on responsibility for lack of physical play:
“It was us. We didn’t start off hitting them and being physical for the game. That allowed them to get easy baskets and they got comfortable. Everybody got comfortable. When that happens everyone makes shots. I think we played pretty well especially in the first half. We were shooting over 50%. Defensively we didn’t lock in and they got to many easy buckets.

On if it’s special to come to LA and play the Lakers:
“Yeah, I mean just being back home and playing in front of family and friends. It’s always good to play in front of them and they get to see you. They don’t get that opportunity often so it’s good to be home. We didn’t come away with a win but it’s still good to be home.”

On if he feels extra minutes:
“A little bit. Just doing the small things to prepare myself and get ready for more game.”

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ROCKETS-LAKERS PREVIEW

By JUSTIN EINHORN

Posted Nov 17 2012 3:43PM

Though Mike D'Antoni has yet to coach the Los Angeles Lakers from the sidelines, his new team already has started to adapt to his high-octane offense.

Even without the familiar face he expects to be running it.

The Lakers' most recent game appeared to show D'Antoni's arrival has made a quick impact, and now he's expected to be on their bench for the first time Sunday night against the visiting Houston Rockets.

"This is a great city to have an up-tempo, exciting game that has a legitimate shot to win a championship," D'Antoni said Thursday upon taking over. "I can't ask for anything more."

A 1-4 start resulted in coach Mike Brown being fired, and Los Angeles (4-5) passed up the possibility of bringing back Phil Jackson by hiring D'Antoni on Monday. The former Phoenix and New York coach has been on crutches as he recovers from knee replacement surgery earlier this month, delaying his arrival in Los Angeles.

D'Antoni ran practice Thursday for the first time, beginning the implementation of his free-flowing style, but wasn't on the bench for a game against the Suns on Friday night. Even with interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff still at the helm, the Lakers picked up their offense and put some of D'Antoni's offerings into play en route to their highest-scoring game of the season in a 114-102 win.

"Not as many post-ups," Pau Gasol said in describing the offense. "More transition and quicker shots, I guess. ... We played pretty simple basketball and just played off each other." vLos Angeles has gone 3-1 under Bickerstaff despite playing without Steve Nash. The two-time MVP who had so much success running D'Antoni's Suns teams has missed seven straight games with a leg fracture, and the team announced Friday he would miss at least another week.

Despite his history with Nash, D'Antoni said he was looking forward to working with backup point guard Steve Blake. However, the 10-year veteran has missed the past two games with a strained abdomen and might not return Sunday. Darius Morris has totaled six points and seven assists in two games as the starter.

The rotating point guard situation hasn't negatively affected Kobe Bryant, who is especially looking forward to playing in D'Antoni's system.

"We're just getting started, but it will make a lot of things easier," said Bryant, who scored 31 points Friday. "Everybody kind of moves, the whole offense has to find their position."

Things haven't been easy for the Rockets (4-5).

Coach Kevin McHale is still away for a personal matter, and Houston has split the four games he's missed. First-round pick Royce White also isn't with the team, upset with management's "inconsistent" handling of him regarding anxiety issues.

The Rockets also are having problems putting teams away. They nearly wasted a 20-point advantage in the second half against New Orleans in a 100-96 win Wednesday, and that came between two defeats in which they blew seven-point leads in the final four-plus minutes.

"It's frustrating. It hurts," Chandler Parsons said after a 119-117 overtime loss at Portland on Friday. "... Something's got to change where we can close out games better so that when we get these big leads we can keep them and extend them."

Parsons has averaged 19.0 points over the past three games, a stretch during which Omer Asik also has stepped up with 16.7 points and 14.0 rebounds per game.

Asik now must battle Dwight Howard, who like the young Rockets center has posted three straight double-doubles.

Jeremy Lin had his second double-double in a Houston uniform Friday with 11 points and 11 assists, but he's shot 30.3 percent from the field over the last four games.

James Harden scored 29 points Friday, but the Rockets fell to 1-5 when he fails to reach 30.


Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Probable Starters .
  Lakers    
  #15 World Peace SF #25 Parsons  
  #16 GasolPF #54 Patterson  
  #12 Howard C #3 Asik  
  #24 Bryant SG #13 Harden  
  #1 Darius Morris PG #7 Lin  


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Lakers Steve Blake
(abdominal strain) is day-to-day.
Kobe Bryant
(strained & bruised right foot) is probable.
Jordan Hill
(herniated disc/sprained right wrist) is probable.
Steve Nash
(non-displaced fracture, left leg) is out.
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Jazz Carlos Delfino
(groin) is questionable.
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11/18 - HOU @ LAL
12/04 - LAL @ HOU
01/08 - LAL @ HOU
04/17 - HOU @ LAL
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