Kobe Bryant finished the night with a triple double, Dwight Howard had 28 points, 13 boards, and a handful of statement dunks that were reminiscent of the center Lakers fans long lusted for, and the Los Angeles Lakers are now .500 on the year. Bernie Bickerstaff just keeps on keepin' on with the Lakers as Mike D'Antoni is still taking his time to make his coaching debut, but at this rate why complain? Bernie ball has been glorious, and the Lakers cruised into their fifth win of the season with a 119-108 victory over James Harden and the Houston Rockets. Beardsanity falls.
The Lakers looked fluid and free in their offense. In the first quarter they scored 40(!) points, capped off by a full court inbound pass from Metta World Peace to Pau Gasol for an easy two points. Kobe Bryant picked Houston's defense apart reading the doubles and rotations as he tallied 11 assists. Kobe Bryant had quite a night as he was all over the stat sheet, compiling the 18th triple double of his career. 22 points, 11 assists, 11 rebounds, and 3 steals for a pristine night from Bryant. Mike D'Antoni's "110-115 points a night" statement continues to ring true for this team. By the 7:08 mark in the 4th quarter the Lakers broke the 110 point threshold and were rolling.
Dwight Howard continues his road to 100% but tonight looked like he had made a major stride in returning to form. Watching the game he undoubtedly had signature moments. A fast-break dunk off of a well timed pass from Darius Morris, the one handed lob from Kobe, and a few great moments on defense (he finished the night with 3 blocks). His impact was definitely felt, but looking at the box score it's almost surprising to see he put in 28 points for the Lakers. The highlights will show Dwight Howard all over the court. The trick will be to keep moving the needle towards 100% and not regressing as he has game to game thus far.
The Rockets put up a fight, though, as scoring 108 points is typically enough for a team to win a ball game. That's the D'Antoni way, though: points, points, points. Chandler Parsons had an extremely efficient night for Houston finishing with 24 points on 8-10 shooting, showing why he earned Kobe Bryant's praise last season. His 4-5 shooting from downtown alone shows why he has a bright future ahead. Granted, with the way the Lakers love leaving shooters open along the perimeter Parsons was primed to have a big night.
James "El Beardo" Harden had an average game with 20 points on 7-18 shooting, 7 assists, and 5 turnovers. Kobe Bryant's grip on the scoring lead tightened with each missed jumper. Harden's back court mate, Jeremy Lin, had a rough night himself. From being inadvertently smacked in the face by Metta World Peace and shooting 2-9 as Darius Morris chased him up and down the court, to coughing the ball up 3 times it wasn't in the cards for Lin. Speaking of Morris, it was quite a night for the sophomore. 12 points, 5 assists, 2 steals, and the active defense that is starting to become an expectation showed just how important true playing time is for a young developing player. Also, his shooting touch was there again, hitting 2-3 of his three point attempts. The coaching staff will have an interesting decision to make once both Steve Blake and Steve Nash are healthy, as it's arguable that Morris has played himself into earning minutes over Blake. This is a positional battle that will likely be touch and go, but Morris has made the most out of his opportunity. I digress, however, as we were talking Jeremy Lin, who managed to put together 10 assists for the Rockets.
And, as these things go, Pau Gasol almost slips through the cracks. A big congratulations to a big Spaniard on becoming the 10th international player in league history to reach 15,000 points. Naturally it came from a dish from Kobe Bryant. He joins Hakeem Olajuwon, Dominique Wilkins, Patrick Ewing, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Rolando Blackman, Steve Nash, Kiki Vandeweghe, and Detlef Schrempf on the list. Not bad company to be in at all. One of the truly great international players to play in the NBA.
The lasting impression for the night, though? The Lakers are finally rolling. Since the hiring of Mike D'Antoni the Lakers have been "flowing" on the offensive side of the ball scoring almost at will. This is the Lakers team we expected to see to start the season. The flasks are bubbling as the chemistry brews for this group that's still missing the catalyst; Steve Nash. The Lakers are, dare I say, fun to watch. Is that allowed to be said yet? Full recap in the morning!
How does the Houston Rockets crowd feel about it? Check The Dream Shake for their rapid reaction.
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