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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Brooklyn Nets 23 34 16 17 90
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 29 27 20 19 95
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Lakers hold off Nets 95-90, win D'Antoni's debut

By GREG BEACHAM


Posted Nov 21 2012 1:26AM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant scored six of his 25 points in the final two minutes, and the Los Angeles Lakers hung on for a 95-90 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night in coach Mike D'Antoni's sideline debut.

Dwight Howard had 23 points and 15 rebounds despite a horrific 7-for-19 performance at the free-throw line for the Lakers, who have won five of six and moved above .500 since firing Mike Brown.

Although D'Antoni is still unsteady on his surgically replaced knee, he coached Los Angeles to a narrow victory that snapped Brooklyn's five-game winning streak.

Brook Lopez scored 23 points and Deron Williams had 22 for the Nets, who missed five of their last six shots in their ninth consecutive loss to the Lakers.

Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace scored 17 points apiece as the Lakers wrapped up a tumultuous six-game homestand that began with coach Mike Brown's unexpected firing 11 days ago.

The Lakers went 4-1 under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, but D'Antoni finally took over the bench nine days after he was hired. Los Angeles largely couldn't play at his favored tempo, but D'Antoni quickly learned the benefits of coaching Bryant, who took over in the final minutes.

After taking a narrow lead through three quarters, the Lakers missed their first seven shots in the fourth and fell behind mostly due to their All-Star center's incompetence at the line. Brooklyn deliberately fouled Howard in the fourth quarter, when he went 3 for 10.

Los Angeles still took the lead on Gasol's free throw with 2:37 to play, and Bryant hit a running hook shot after Joe Johnson airballed a jumper moments later. Johnson cut the lead to one point on a fast-break layup with 36 seconds left, but Bryant hit four free throws in the final 17.1 seconds while Williams missed a potential tying 3-pointer with 4 seconds left.

Johnson scored 14 points for the Nets, who finish their three-game California road trip at Golden State on Wednesday night.

D'Antoni nearly debuted on the Lakers' sideline two nights earlier against Houston, but was persuaded to delay by trainer Gary Vitti, who was concerned about the 61-year-old's mobility and late-game fatigue.

D'Antoni felt much stronger after two more days of rest and room service at his hotel, and he eagerly got on the court without the aid of the crutches that kept him upright during his first practice last week.

D'Antoni clearly isn't at full strength: He hobbled slowly on the sideline on the rare occasions he left his chair during play in the first half. He moved around with more vigor after halftime, protesting foul calls with his usual theatrical vehemence despite a slight limp in his step.

Since D'Antoni took over practices last Thursday, the Lakers ran their last two opponents off the court with up-tempo offense in the first half. Los Angeles scored 40 points in the first quarter of a win over Houston on Sunday night, and Nets coach Avery Johnson claimed his team couldn't play at that pace - yet Brooklyn consistently got more fast-break production all night, outscoring the Lakers 26-7.

After the Lakers scored the game's first 10 points against Brooklyn, Johnson's team got the game back to its preferred tempo. With Lopez and Williams breaking down their defenders for good shots in a half-court offense, the Nets led the Lakers 57-56 at halftime.

Williams was particularly effective against Darius Morris, the third-string point guard thrust into a starting role with injuries to Steve Nash and Steve Blake. Williams employed his vicious crossover move multiple times, forcing Morris to commit three first-half fouls.

NOTES: The Nets haven't won six straight games or been more than five games over .500 since 2006. .. Before the game, D'Antoni said Blake and Nash will miss at least four more games, which means they won't play on the Lakers' three-game road trip over the next four days starting in Sacramento on Wednesday night. The Lakers' next home game is against Indiana on Nov. 27. ... The Lakers have won their last five road meetings with the Nets, last losing in New Jersey on March 17, 2006. They'll visit Barclays Center on Feb. 5.


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Points Bryant, 25
Rebounds Howard, 15
Assists Williams (BKN), 10
Blocks Howard, 4
Steals Wallace (BKN), 5
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike D'Antoni:

On the game:
“First thing: I’m really happy about getting a win obviously…Defensively they shot 31percent in the second half. We held them to 33 points. It’s a good offensive team. The players made some adjustments…good spots. Especially a win against a team that’s hot.”

Kobe was terrific as usual.”

“Duhon played well and ran the team and Darius played well.”

On the free throw shooting:
“If they start hacking Dwight and he is making one out of two, so that is one point per possession, that’s pretty good basketball, especially down the stretch. So that’s fine. If they want to do that, that’s great, I’ve got no problem.”

On his first game:
“Well first of all it is great to be out there. Great to be with the guys and that’s what you coach for. They are a good group that wants to win, and when you do that, it’s very good.”

On Metta World Peace:
“He should be wide open every time...He was 4/9 for threes. He’s ten a game and I told him he needs to make 4/10 every game. And he can do that. That’s 40 percent and that’s pretty good so he’ll do that. I think he’ll do that every game. He’s going to be up there with 17-20 points.”




Kobe Bryant:

On the last 5 minutes to take the game back:
“We just put me in angles, which are our screen role situations. And we did a good job moving the ball. We knew we would get high percentage opportunities. That’s really all you can ask for is getting good quality shots then it’s on us to put them in the hole.”

On learning to win games when you can’t look pretty every time:
“We are capable of doing it. Obviously we’ve played that style for many years before. That’s something that we comfortably do. Tonight was one of those games that we kind of had to grind out a little bit.”

On whether Lakers played better defense or Nets just went cold in second half:
“It’s always a combination of both. It’s always us doing a good job defensively and them missing some easy opportunities as well. I felt like in the second half we just sat down on them a little bit better. We got back in transition a little bit better. And we cut their points in the paint down it seems like.”




Pau Gasol:

On if the team is ready to move forward:
“We’re ready to move forward. We have three road games now; they’re all going to be hard, starting tomorrow in Sacramento. Every team likes to get the Lakers, so we have to be ready for those games and see if we can get all of them.”

On the difference between the beginning of the season and now:
“We’re definitely playing with better flow. We’re playing with more confidence, looser out there. We’re playing together and moving the ball, just playing basketball and not really worrying about actions; just playing the game.”




Darius Morris:

On his attitude every single night playing against elite guards:
“I thank God for the opportunity, and I don’t take it for granted. My mindset is just to go out there and prove myself every night, not get too high or too low, and to step up to the challenge every night. It’s crazy, I was telling Steve Blake, I’m learning something new every game. Every game it seems like I got it, but tonight it was about the fouls. So, I just learn something new every game.”




Dwight Howard:

On what worked well on defense:
“We did a good job on tipping in the paint, forcing them to take tough shots and rebounds. That’s the name of the game. The free throws will come. They’ll get there. Just gotta keep playing.”

On D’Antoni’s debut:
“It was cool. We got the win tonight. It was a tough one but we battled it out and I feel that we got better tonight as a team.”

On Kobe’s pick-and-roll sets:
“He is a great ball handler, a great passer. We just have to make sure we set his screens and it’s tough with the fairness to make a decision. They can stay on Kobe and leave me open or stay with me and keep Kobe open. There’s a lot of options that we have with the pick-and-roll and we just have to keep playing.”




Avery Johnson:

On tonight’s performance:
“I’m proud of our guys tonight. We fought through a lot of adversity tonight in so many different ways. We got off to a tough start, a slow start, and we finally got back to playing our style of basketball, playing our tempo, but I’m proud of our guys tonight. We’re not searching for moral victories, but I’m proud of our guys.”

On their defense:
“Our defense was pretty good, even all the way there to the very end. Tough situations, Humphries plays great defense with 17.2 seconds left in the game, then 11.2 seconds left in the game, you know they travel on the play. So I thought our defense was pretty good. I think when you get back there in the locker room and watch those two situations, boy it’s really tough to swallow.”

On the tempo of the game:
“I thought Deron did a great job of quarterbacking the team, getting us in our pace. I thought our execution was good and then you know we missed a wide open three there at the end. Great look for us, they double teamed us, we’re wide open, but again I think offensively had we made a few more shots, we would have been in better shape. But defensively, this team that’s been scoring 40 points in the first quarter and over 60 points in the half, I thought our defense was really respectable tonight.”




Deron Williams:


“It was a tough loss for us you know. I thought that we battled. They came out and tried to hit us early, so we thought what to do and we responded. I had control of the game at one point missed some shots down the stretch and they got to the free throw line for whatever reason and one the game.”

On his last shot:
“I mean there was only four seconds left. I got a pretty clean look it was contested but we didn’t have any timeouts. I really couldn’t have taken another dribble there was nowhere to go, I was too close to the sideline so I had a good look at it when I shot it, it just didn’t go in.”

On the Nets’ play down the stretch:
“We were right there, we just missed some shots, [Gerald Wallace] had a good look at a three to tie it. Joe [Johnson] had a good look. I had two looks. We just [didn’t make shots].”




Brook Lopez:

On the 4th quarter:
“They got to the foul line a few times. Kobe got fouled and then he got to the line and made some big free throws. I thought we played some great defense. We weren’t perfect, but I thought we played well and gave ourselves a good chance.”

On the Nets’ overall performance:
“I thought we played very well. We obviously wanted this one. Like I said, we didn’t play perfect. There’s a lot of things to learn from this game, but I thought we gave this one pretty much our all.”




Joe Johnson:

On the Nets’ play down the stretch:
“Down the stretch we just didn’t come up with the big plays that we normally come up with in tight games like this. I put a lot of this on myself who missed a lot of easy shots down the stretch that I normally make. I knew it was going to come down to it and I focused in but we just didn’t make a lot of those easy shots we normally make.”

On the Net’s defense tonight:
“Our defense was pretty good. We also kind of had a break, they we missed a lot of free throws down the stretch as well. You know we kind of went head-to-head. But, we did a pretty good job. We put ourselves in position to win the basketball game and that’s all you want.”

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NETS-LAKERS PREVIEW

By ALAN FERGUSON

Posted Nov 19 2012 2:50PM

While Los Angeles Lakers fans might get their first chance to see new coach Mike D'Antoni on Tuesday night, the Brooklyn Nets will get their first look at a player who almost ended up on their team.

Dwight Howard will try to lead the suddenly high-powered Lakers to a season-high third straight victory while denying the surging Nets their longest win streak in seven seasons.

D'Antoni was expected to appear on the Lakers' bench for the first time Sunday against Houston, but his wife and team trainer Gary Vitti convinced him to wait a few more days to continue recovering from knee replacement surgery.

"Knee replacement is serious stuff," Kobe Bryant said. "We just want him to take his time."

D'Antoni has watched the past two games from the locker room while getting therapy on his knee, and has talked to the team before games and at halftime. Interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, who will remain an assistant on the new staff, has guided Los Angeles to a 4-1 mark since Mike Brown's firing earlier this month.

The Lakers (5-5) have started to find their stride with D'Antoni's fast-paced style, averaging 116.5 points in their back-to-back wins even while point guard Steve Nash remains out with a small fracture in his leg. The two-time MVP, who ran his new coach's offense while the two were together in Phoenix, is not expected to return until this weekend at the earliest.

The Lakers posted their highest point total of the season in Sunday's 119-108 win against the Rockets, shooting a season-best 54.1 percent and topping 60 points in the first half for the second straight contest.

"The coaching staff is communicating extremely well in terms of things that they want to see us execute," Bryant said. "We're doing a good job reading the defense and moving the ball around. We're shooting pretty well. ... (D'Antoni) just lets us go out there and play."

Howard led the way Sunday with 28 points win after averaging 15.0 over his previous four games, but his next opponent might be highly motivated to keep him in check.

The Nets (6-2) made a major push to acquire the center this summer, but after those talks with Orlando broke down, Brooklyn acquired Joe Johnson from Atlanta and re-signed Brook Lopez and Deron Williams.

Those moves have paid immediate dividends, with the Nets off to their best start since 2002-03. That season ended with the second of back-to-back NBA finals appearances.

The Lakers, who swept the Nets in the 2002 finals, have won eight straight in the series. Brooklyn, though, might have a good chance to end that skid while securing its first six-game win streak since a franchise record-tying 14-game run March 12-April 6, 2006.

The move from New Jersey has seemed to invigorate the long-struggling Nets, who opened a three-game West Coast trip with a 99-90 victory over Sacramento on Sunday. Andray Blatche led the way with a season-high 22 points off the bench on 11-of-12 shooting.

"I'm at a loss for words right now. It's a good feeling to be on a team that has a good chance of winning every game," said Blatche, who spent his previous seven seasons with another long-suffering team, Washington.

Brooklyn won even though Williams and Johnson were a combined 5 of 22 from the field.

"It doesn't have to be Deron and me having a great game for us to win," Johnson said. "We can come at you offensively in a lot of different ways. I'm not worried about (my shot) at this point, it will come."

Howard has shot 67.1 percent in his last seven games against the Nets, averaging 20.0 points. Lopez, a California native, has averaged 26.0 points over his last four meetings with the Lakers, his best mark against any opponent over the past four seasons.


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 #45 Wallace  
  #16 GasolPF #43 Humphries  
  #12 Howard C #11 Lopez  
  #24 Bryant SG #7 Johnson  
  #1 Morris PG #8 Williams  


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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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11/20 - BKN @ LAL
02/05 - LAL @ BKN
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