Lakers ground Rockets without D’Antoni
(Reuters) – The Lakers are still waiting for coach Mike D’Antoni to take charge of his first game but Los Angeles continued their recent revival with a 119-108 win over the Houston Rockets on Sunday.
Dwight Howard had 28 points and 13 rebounds, and Kobe Bryant registered a triple-double with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, as the Lakers delivered another potent performance and a season-high points total.
D’Antoni was hired last week but knee surgery has kept him from coaching on the sidelines so far.
“My mobility on the sideline was a little in question. I want to be out there but we have a lot of games coming up,” D’Antoni told reporters. “There’s a very good chance I can do it Tuesday (against Brooklyn), I’m hoping.”
Even though D’Antoni has yet to take the bench for a game, Los Angeles (5-5) have enjoyed their two highest scoring games of the season since he began guiding practices.
The Lakers exploded out of the blocks against the Rockets with 40 points in the first quarter that gave them an 11-point lead, and they padded their advantage to as much as 19 in the fourth.
Bryant led the way early with 11 points in the first quarter, en route to his 18th career triple double, while Howard sealed the deal with nine in the fourth.
“We just spaced the floor well, shot the ball fairly well and seemed to make the right decisions,” Bryant said. “(The opposing defense) has to give up something, and it’s on me to make the right decision.”
Chandler Parsons had a team-high 24 points and James Harden added 20 for the Rockets, who fell to 4-6 on the season.
Houston, too, is missing their coach as Kevin McHale has been on a leave of absence for a personal matter for more than a week.
The Lakers have won four of five games since firing Mike Brown, with interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff manning the bench during games until D’Antoni is ready.
Pau Gasol finished with 17 points and the Spaniard became just the 10th foreign-born player to surpass 15,000 career points. He now has 15,005.