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Kobe’s triple-double fuels Lakers high-powered offense in win over Rockets

Nov 19, 2012, 2:26 AM EDT

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — Mike D’Antoni was forced to postpone his debut as Lakers head coach, opting instead to wait a few more days after being talked out of coaching Sunday night’s game by the team’s training staff.

But you didn’t need to see D’Antoni in a suit on the sidelines to know that he had his fingerprints all over this one — it was evident from the very start.

The Lakers had 40 points by the end of the first quarter, Kobe Bryant finished with a triple-double, and the offense was everything their fans could ask for in a 119-108 destruction of the Houston Rockets.

Bryant notched the 18th triple-double of his career by finishing with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists, but downplayed the statistical achievement afterward.

“I’m a scorer, I’m not a triple-double kind of player,” he said. “But it’s cool when it happens.”

L.A. was in blowout mode from the opening tip, and there were plenty of highlights on the way to gaining an 11-point lead by the end of the first quarter, one in which the Lakers as a team shot a ridiculous 73.9 percent.

To say that the offense was clicking would be an understatement. Bryant initiated plenty of high pick-and-rolls that resulted in good looks inside and out, the three-point shooting was solid at 45 percent, and the team pushed the tempo to play at a quicker pace which kept the defense on its heels and allowed for high-percentage shots.

D’Antoni-style basketball, at its finest.

The turnaround has seemed to come relatively quickly for these Lakers, after firing head coach Mike Brown just five games into the season once the team suffered through a 1-4 start. Since Bernie Bickerstaff has taken command on an interim basis, the team has gone 4-1 to get back to .500, but he said there were some signs that this might be coming.

“They were in the process,” Bickerstaff said. “If you go back to the day before we played [that first game he coached against Golden State], we talked about how we were prepared to play that game. We had one of the best practices that we’ve 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.”

It’s worth wondering how much of this recent success is due to D’Antoni’s system, versus just letting some of the best players in the world play the game the way they know how — intelligently, fluidly, and with few restrictions. The players seem to think it’s been a combination of the two so far.

“We’re just picking apart the defense,” Bryant said. “We’re putting the defense in predicaments where they have to choose, and we’re making them pay.”

Dwight Howard echoed the sentiment.

“We’re doing D’Antoni’s offense, but we’re just playing at the same time,” he said.

Howard finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocked shots. He looked every bit the beast the Lakers hoped they’d be getting when they traded for him, but even after putting together a dominant performance like this one, Howard says he’s still not yet at 100 percent.

“No, I’m not there,” he said. “But I’m happy with the progress, I’m happy with my teammates finding me in great spots to score, and I’m just trying to have fun and play as hard as I can.”

If there’s a way to play harder offensively than the Lakers did as a team on this night, the rest of the league will be running for cover. Steve Nash will return at some point, which will only make things that much easier offensively, and that much more ridiculous for opposing defenses to have to deal with on a nightly basis.

“We just want to continue to roll, just continue to improve on what we’re doing, and continue to improve our execution,” Bryant said.

Presumably, there will be an additional boost from the full-time presence of Mike D’Antoni patrolling the sidelines. But whether that debut comes in the Lakers next game or the game after, it hardly matters. It’s very clear that D’Antoni and the pieces of his system are already firmly in place.

  1. yousuxxors - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:55 AM

    Say what you want about him … His offense is exciting

  2. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Nov 19, 2012 at 3:23 AM

    Pretty much happy with the outcome. I hope it continues, and consistent at that. The starters in double digit production with ample bench support. Minutes in the the high 30’s for the starters though. Hope they can put it a bit down to the low 30’s.

    On another note, I want to see wins against the elite teams. Houston is no pushover and certainly no patsies but I can’t say they’re elite at the moment.

    Birth pains I guess. One of the necessary ingredients to sweet success.

  3. BigBeachBall - Nov 19, 2012 at 3:52 AM

    Jamison is a good dude but hes useless in this offense

    • chargerdillon - Nov 19, 2012 at 12:03 PM

      This is the truth. Jamison was brought in to be the big help midseason when Lebron was still with the Cavs. He did ZERO there. And we brought him in to be a bench player where he can do ZERO here.

      Why is this guy getting a paycheck from the NBA, why why why

  4. dannymac17 - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:19 AM

    Still not better than the Clippers.

    That’s saying a lot.

    • abchome - Nov 19, 2012 at 8:59 AM

      The Lakers have a better record against .5 or below teams (5-1) than the Clippers (0-2).

    • rickeydynamite25 - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:35 AM

      Stop it!

  5. henryd3rd - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:33 AM

    Is “Linsanity” finally over or has it just simmered down a bit?

    • eventhorizon04 - Nov 19, 2012 at 11:51 AM

      His “loyal” fans deserted him once he left NYC.

  6. rickeydynamite25 - Nov 19, 2012 at 6:48 AM

    Other teams should start worrying about the Lakers now.

  7. lakerluver - Nov 19, 2012 at 7:31 AM

    Ohhhh, we haven’t seen nothing yet!! By the spring, with everybody healthy, this team is going to be the best in the West.

  8. unxpexted1 - Nov 19, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    This is clearly the best my Lakers have looked all year. Kobe was brilliant playing more of the combo guard type of roll instead of being a pure 2 guard which I think helped Morris a lot who had a good game on the low. Offense flowed wonderfully….My only concern…

    I love the lakers had 68 at halftime…..hate that the rockets had 60.
    I love that we finished with 119 with garbage time players for the last 4 or 5 minutes. Hate the Houston had 108.

    All I’m saying is we gave up SO many easy baskets, and I’m just being cautious by not getting caught up in how great we looked offensively when our defense was flat out bad for long stretches.

    All in all, good start of the D’antoni era. Wasnt the “7 seconds or less” style but it was a lil quicker tempo and got players in much better positions to score. The dude knows what he’s doing on offense.

    • aboogy123456 - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:13 AM

      Great comment, I think it was just a matter of not focusing enough on defense which is why they gave up so many easy baskets. A lot of the baskets were after the lakers scored, and there’s no excuse for not getting back on defense. I like the uptempo game, but it doesn’t mean no defense. I want to see how they play their defense against better opponents.

  9. manchestermiracle - Nov 19, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    Gee, where have all the haters gone?

    Lakers back to .500 without having cranked up the defense or gotten their new coach on the bench. Looks like maybe Harden can’t carry the load by himself for the Rockets after all. If teams were looking to use the Lakers as an easy win, that window might have closed.

  10. genericcommenter - Nov 19, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    Kobe’s actually pretty modest- the scorer has averaged around 5 boards and 5 assists per game for his career. if you go back 10 years he was able to add 7/6 to 30 points per game.

  11. aboogy123456 - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    I really love Howard’s impact on the game. His presence has made it so much easier for the rest of the team because he gets so much attention inside. I think Dwight is a big reason that kobe’s been so efficient this year.

    • unxpexted1 - Nov 19, 2012 at 11:07 AM

      yea i agree. He has been effiecient unlike anytime in his career and its because he hasnt had to force things as usual. And you can def credit howard for that.

      • unxpexted1 - Nov 19, 2012 at 11:46 AM

        bitter*

  12. magicbucs - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    So what if the lakers are beating .500 or less teams. They should be winning those games anyway. They can’t beat a contender and in a 7 game series I don’t see them getting past 2nd round. That saying Dwight will be gone after this season. If he can’t take the media heat in Orlando I know he’s going to want to get away from the media in LA.

    You’re still a .500 team and will finish 4/5 in west.

    • rickeydynamite25 - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      Stop it.

    • unxpexted1 - Nov 19, 2012 at 11:05 AM

      the obvious response to this would be you’re bigger magic fan but…..thats the only response there is for this post.

      • unxpexted1 - Nov 19, 2012 at 11:47 AM

        bitter*

  13. echech88 - Nov 19, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Can’t say they look like the favorite to win it all but damn they are a lot of fun to watch right now.

  14. thelakeshow562 - Nov 19, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    LAKERS # 1 (FAH)

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