It was a busy night for the City of Angels. The music industy celebrated as the industry’s best put on a show at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theater.
Down the way at Staples Center, the Lakers were putting on a concert of their own.
Draped in their Sunday whites, the choir known as the Los Angeles Lakers, harmonized to the tune of 54 percent shooting as they outperformed James Harden and the visiting Houston Rockets 119-108. This was the second game in which the Lakers displayed their high octane offense orchestrated by their new Head Coach, Mike D’Antoni, although he was still unable to take on game duties due to rehabilitating from knee surgery. This gave interim Head Coach, Bernie Bickerstaff, the opportunity to increase his record as Lakers coach to 4-1.
Dwight Howard headlined in this gig, scoring 28 points on 11 for 18 shooting and grabbing 13 rebounds, as the Rocket’s big men couldn’t find an aswer for him defensively. Kobe Bryant also tantilized the crowd with his solo performance, collecting his 18th career triple-double with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Pau Gasol added 17 points, etching his name in NBA history by becoming only the 10th foreign born player to score 15,000 career points. Metta World Peace and Darius Morris completed the double-digit scoring for the Lakers starters, providing 15 and 12 points respectively.
Defensively, however, the Lakers were flat.
As much as you can praise D’Antoni style offensively, critics would have a field day disecting the Laker’s woes defensively, as they allowed the Rockets to score easily and failed to hustle in transition defense after a score on the other end of the floor. Chandler Parsons lead Houston’s offense with 24 points on 8 for 10 shooting, including hiting 4-5 from behind the arc. James Harden did his part by breaking down the Laker’s defense and pouring in 20 points of his own. The Lakers bench seemed to improve in this game, but were still outscored by their Houston counterparts 37-25.
There’s no doubt that the Lakers defense will ultimately improve over the course of the season. It’s hard to imagine that it won’t, considering having the likes of Kobe, World Peace, and Howard, whom are all well known for their defensive intensity. Pair that along with the fact that the offense is already showing much efficiency with less than a week of practicing it, and you have a Lakers team that knows that having a 5-5 record is just fine tuning the instruments.
Get ready! The Lakers tour will be coming to a city near you.