Kobe Bryant’s improved health, passing does little in LA Lakers’ 112-95 loss to Rockets

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first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error But the Lakers trailed only 60-57 at halftime amid Bryant suddenly passing and the team suddenly scoring. Then, the Rockets opened the third quarter on a 9-0 run. Then, the Lakers missed two of their next 15 shots. Then, the Lakers (9-34) became well on their way toward losing both their third consecutive game and their third against the Rockets (22-20) this season. “One thing we can’t control is shots going in every night. But you can control how hard you play on that defensive end,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “Being as young as we are, if it’s not falling or going in offensively, we start to hold our head down. We forgot there’s still a basketball game going on.”• RELATED: Scott wants more from Tarik BlackIt did not help Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. sat out with soreness in his right knee. The Lakers are relieved MRI results turned out negative, but they lacked anyone consistently providing energy. Or that Julius Randle looked limited in the second half after taking a shot to the nose the Lakers fear might be broken.“I’m good,” said Randle, who posted 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting and 11 rebounds). “I got wacked in my face. It took me a while to recover.” Despite all the pain in his right Achilles and right shoulder, Kobe Bryant made it past more than one half.If only the Lakers could say the same thing.The Lakers’ 112-95 loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday at Staples Center featured all the familiar elements. No one could stop James Harden, who posted a team-leading 31 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Many of the 18,997 fans booed Dwight Howard anytime he touched the ball, though that did not deter him from adding 14 points and 15 rebounds. • PHOTOS: Rockets handle Kobe, Lakerscenter_img But with the Lakers taking any positive silver lining they can in a dreary season, some of them emerged. Bryant didn’t experience any issues in his right Achilles tendon after logging 15 minutes in the first half on Saturday in Utah. He played the entire first and third quarters where he took less interest in scoring (five points on 2-of-5 shooting) and more interest in passing (nine assists). “Felt pretty good,” Bryant said. “It was loose, but then it stiffened up a little bit coming into halftime. “We got it worked on a little bit. The key is trying to keep it loose.”Bryant also became the Lakers’ second-all-time leader in assists (6,244), surpassing former Lakers general manager and executive Jerry West (6,238). Bryant will never come close toward eclipsing Magic Johnson’s 10,141 career assists, not that Bryant has set out to try.“It means a lot. It’s an accomplishment I’m really really proud of,” Bryant said. “You have to be able to make plays and makes passes and have the defense fear you as a passer. If they don’t, you can’t score 40 points. You can’t score 50 points.”The Lakers did not feature anyone scoring that much. But they still produced a balanced offense that featured Lou Williams (20 points on 7-of-12 shooting), Jordan Clarkson (16 points on 8-of-17 shooting), D’Angelo Russell (12 points on 5-of-10 shooting, five assists) and Anthony Brown (10 points on 4-of-8 shooting). Brandon Bass added eight points after missing the past two games with a sore right foot. But all of that became a forgotten story, with the Rockets’ Clint Capela (14 points), Trevor Ariza (13 points), Ty Lawson (12 points), Marcus Thornton (10 points) and Montrezl Harrell (10 points) attacking the basket and sinking jumpers seemingly anytime they wanted.• Sunday’s box scorelast_img

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