Rockets had no answer for Lakers’ offense

James Harden attempts to drive around Metta World Peace.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

It’s taken one practice with Mike D’Antoni for the Lakers offense to climb to almost 117 points a game since the coach arrived in Los Angeles.

While D’Antoni has yet to sit on the bench, the Houston Rockets had a difficult time dealing with the Lakers, who scored 70 points in the first and third quarters combined in a 119-108 victory.


Interim-Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff, after what was probably his final game with that title, noted the Lakers have just started putting in D’Antoni’s system.

“Every day there’s a little more,” said Bickerstaff. “What’s important, it’s best to do a few things well and get it down because all those things, they have options off of it. We put a few things in, they’re in, let’s work on the repetition, get it down, and then expand.”

The Lakers shot 54.1% from the field and 45% from three-point range against Houston.

Coach Kelvin Sampson, subbing for Kevin McHale, didn’t want to credit the Lakers for their performance.


“Just because they have a new offense, doesn’t mean they’re going to score 120. You know if you don’t guard them, they’re going to look good,” said Sampson. “I think if you guard them, they’re like any other team. You make it tough for them to score.”

The Rockets may not have defended well but some of that had to do with Kobe Bryant, who notched a triple-double, or Dwight Howard, who scored 28 points on 11-18 shooting.


Jeremy Lin, who played for D’Antoni in New York, marveled at the Lakers’ improved offense.

“That’s the way the system is designed,” said Lin. “There is so much space, there is so much freedom. Someone is going to get a good shot most of the time.”


It’s unclear how much of the team’s success had to do with D’Antoni and how much should be credited to Bickerstaff (and the players themselves).

Once Steve Nash returns from a leg injury and D’Antoni gets more time with the team, the offense should quickly evolve beyond what the Lakers have shown the last couple of games.


If the Lakers can pair that with a semblance of defense, the future looks bright.


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You can email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.