They have good quarters. Maybe an entire half. They almost made it to three competitive quarters last week against
There was more than a slight been-there, done-that feeling Sunday — an engaging first half and pitiful second part in a 112-95 loss to the
It beat their sleepwalk the previous night against Utah but not much else as a three-point halftime deficit swelled to 19 points going into the fourth quarter at
Oh well. At least there was
In case anybody wondered, Howard started slowly this season and recently improved, putting up his ninth consecutive double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds Sunday.
Bryant, by the way, passed
He replaced Larry Nance Jr., who sat out because of discomfort in his right knee. An MRI exam revealed nothing damaging and he was diagnosed with a sore knee, the Lakers said.
Randle had his first double-double in almost three weeks — 12 points, 11 rebounds — but you got the feeling his run with the starters would last only as long as Nance's soreness.
Jordan Clarkson had 16 points and three assists, and D'Angelo Russell had 12 points and five assists.
No one on the Lakers really played any defense, though.
Houston (22-20) began Sunday as one of the
James Harden had 31 points on efficient 10-for-17 shooting and Clint Capela scored 14 on six-for-eight accuracy.
"Being as young as we are, we just tend to, if it's not falling or it's not going well offensively, we start to hold our head down," Lakers Coach Byron Scott said. "And we forget that there's still a basketball game going on and you've still got to defend at the other end."
Bryant was in distributor mode from the start, gathering seven assists in the first 10 minutes as the Lakers actually led, 31-28.
His assist to Lou Williams in the second quarter was the 6,239th of his career, passing West and trailing only Magic Johnson (10,141 assists) among Lakers leaders.
"It's an accomplishment that I'm really, really proud of," Bryant said, not needing to add that everybody considered him a scorer first but he could pass the ball a bit too.
Bryant scored only five points Sunday on two-for-five shooting and picked up nine assists in 24 minutes.
After so many road games the first half of the season, excellent news arrived Sunday for the Lakers via a schedule break — they play only one game outside of California between now and Feb. 4.
Not-so-excellent news was also delivered, the Lakers falling to a less-than-desirable 5-13 at Staples Center.