Kobe Bryant racked up 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists against the Rockets… (Michael Nelson / EPA )
Lakers 119 - Rockets 108 (final)
The Lakers had to go one last time without Coach Mike D'Antoni (knee), and the team won their fourth game in five tries with Bernie Bickerstaff at the helm.
Kobe Bryant notched his 18th career triple-double with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in what would be another high-scoring affair for the Lakers. The team shot a season-high 54.1% from the field, converting 9-20 from three-point range.
Pau Gasol scored his 15,000th career point. Darius Morris set a career high with 12. Antawn Jamison's eight was his best since joining the Lakers.
The Rockets were led by Chandler Parsons' 24 points. James Harden scored 20 in his first appearance against the Lakers since the playoffs (with the Oklahoma City Thunder). Houston shot 48.9% from the field and 39.1% from behind the arc.
Turnovers have been an issue for much of the season for the Lakers. On Sunday night they had 13 miscues, and forced the Rockets to cough up the ball 15 times.
The Lakers improve to 5-5, climbing into the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Houston drops to 4-6, currently in 12th place.
Lakers 98 - Rockets 87 (end of third quarter)
Pau Gasol reached the 15,000-point career milestone in the third quarter as he helped carry the Lakers offensive load.
The Rockets continued to shoot the ball well (54.5% from the field and 46.7% from three-point range) but the Lakers outpaced them at 60.3% and 46.7%. James Harden has 20 for Houston.
The Lakers surged ahead on a 10-0 run, extending the lead to 16 until Harden finally nailed a three-pointer. Metta World Peace has added to the team's offensive attack with 15 points on the night.
Bryant had 18 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds through three quarters, just two boards away from a triple-double.
The Lakers had a reasonable nine turnovers, generally a bigger issue throughout the season. The Rockets had 11 turnovers.
Lakers 68 - Rockets 60 (halftime)
Kobe Bryant nearly notched a first-half triple-double, racking up 11 points, seven rebounds and nine assists in just 20 minutes of play against the Rockets.
Houston actually won the quarter, 31-28, on 54.2% shooting from the field. James Harden scored 14 first-half points and Chandler Parsons chipped in 12.
The Lakers had four starters in double-figures, led by Dwight Howard's 18, on 8-10 shooting.
With the top two point guards out (Steve Nash and Steve Blake), the Lakers got a perfect shooting half from Darius Morris (5-5), scoring a career high 12 points, and Chris Duhon (2-2).
The Lakers shot 67.4% from the field and 71.4% from three-point range. Neither team turned the ball over often, with five for L.A. and four for Houston.
Lakers 40 - Rockets 29 (end of first quarter)
Even with Bernie Bickerstaff coaching the Lakers for Mike D'Antoni, the team is already committed to picking up the pace. The Lakers scored 40 points against the Rockets in 12 minutes.
Both teams battled back and forth for the first nine minutes of the game, with the lead swapping back and forth 14 times.
Late in the period the Lakers went on a run, ending the quarter with their biggest lead of the game (11). The Lakers shot 73.9% from the field while Houston hit 45.8%.
Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 11 points, to go along with seven rebounds and five assists. Teammate Dwight Howard chipped in 10. Chandler Persons led the Rockets with 10.
Darius Morris got the start in place of injured guards Steve Nash and Steve Blake
Coach Mike D'Antoni will delay his debut, still recovering from knee surgery, putting Bernie Bickerstaff back in charge on Sunday as the Lakers host the Houston Rockets at Staples Center.
D'Antoni hasn't had much time to put in a system, joining the team after Mike Brown was relieved of his coaching duties. Bickerstaff has a 3-1 record in the interim.
The Houston Rockets have upgraded their roster with James Harden, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. Harden has been an explosive offensive force for Houston, scoring 26.7 points per game, a hair behind Kobe Bryant’s 26.9. Asik's 13.2 rebounds per game is second in the league, behind only Memphis Grizzlies big man Zach Randolph.
Both the Lakers and Rockets come in with a record of 4-5. For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Rockets.
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