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Lakers

Five takeaways from the Lakers’ 112-95 loss to the Houston Rockets

Ryan Kelly, Dwight Howard

Rockets center Dwight Howard blocks a shot by Lakers forward Ryan Kelly during the first half.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers (9-34) lost their third straight game, falling to the Houston Rockets (22-20) on Sunday night.  Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 112-95 defeat at Staples Center.

1. After sitting out recent games with a sore Achilles tendon, Bryant played successive games Saturday and Sunday. Bryant’s passing in the first quarter Sunday was impressive. He had nine assists for the game, taking just five shots while scoring five points.

Bryant passed Jerry West (6,238) on the Lakers’ all-time assist list.  Bryant will call it a career after the season, falling far short of Magic Johnson’s 10,141.

2. James Harden finished with a game-high 31 points.  Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell explained how players like Harden aren’t going to be nullified by an individual defender.

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“He’s going to get it, you just have to make it tough,” Russell said.  “I feel you guys get it confused, by going into this league going into a game saying they’re going to shut down an All-Star player -- but you just have to make it hard for him.”

3. What was Byron Scott’s advice over the summer to Tarik Black?

“My message was that you need to play like [Denver Nuggets forward] Kenneth Faried and [former Lakers forward] Dennis Rodman,” said Scott.  "[Detroit Pistons center] Ben Wallace, guys like that -- they play all out, full of energy.  They don’t care about the offensive end and that’s what Tarik needs to do for him to be an integral part of the team.”

4. Roy Hibbert blocked four shots.  Rockets Coach J.B. Bickerstaff said his team attacked the Lakers' big men.

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“One of the things, with [the Lakers’] big guys, we know they’re coming to block shots,” he said.  “So when we attack the paint, our bigs were able to get some easy buckets just by following the ball -- whether it was from the pass or off a rebound.”

Dwight Howard (14 points and 15 rebounds) and Clint Capela (14 and 11) reached double-doubles, shooting a combined 12 for 19 from the field (63.2%).

5. The Lakers are in last place in the Western Conference, better league-wide than just the Philadelphia 76ers (5-38).

The Lakers are 10 games behind the eighth-place Utah Jazz (18-23) and 5.5 behind the 13th and 14th-place Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves, both 13-29.

Looking ahead to the 2016 NBA draft lottery, the Lakers would have a 55.8% chance of a top-three pick in next June’s draft.  If the Lakers fall below third in the lottery, Philadelphia would get the team’s pick as part of the Steve Nash trade, via the Suns.

If the Lakers climb a spot in the standings, their lottery odds for a top-three selection will dip to 46.9%.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.


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