LOS ANGELES — It didn’t take long for new Los Angeles Lakers guards Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks to make an impact in their first game, as they helped their new team on Friday snap a franchise-record eight home game losing streak with a 101-92 win over rival Boston Celtics.
After trailing as much as 13 points in the second half, the Lakers used a 19-5 run that span from the 1:31 mark in the third quarter to 8:10 mark in the fourth quarter to take the lead at 80-79. Brooks scored 10 of his season-high 14 points in the final quarter that also included Bazemore hitting two critical 3-pointers down the stretch that helped Los Angeles snap their four game losing streak.
“I think we played with a lot more energy,” Brook said. ” We played defense, we got some stops, and held theme to 92 points. That’s pretty big when they got 29 first quarter points. We played defense, and played with a lot of energy, caused some turnovers and some easy points in transition.”
Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni felt it was the enthusiasm and competiveness from his two new players that energized their teammates and the crowd.
“First , enthusiasm and they competed the whole time,” D’Antoni said. “I thought [Kent] Bazemore did a great job defensively and running the floor. MarShon [Brooks] hit three or four baskets in a row that kind of got us back in the game. So both of them played well, which I think energized the other guys that were on the court.”
As for Bazemore, it was the sheer presence of Kobe Bryant in the locker room prior to the game that helped him focus on the task at hand.
“My adrenaline is still going right now,” Bazemore said, who scored a career-high 15 points in his debut for the Lakers. “I feel great right now. Kobe walked in at the beginning of the game and he had me all focused on the game. It was crazy you don’t want to embarrass yourself in your first game and he is sitting back there in the locker room. That was in the back of mind the whole time that ‘Kobe is somewhere out there watching.'”
Chris Kaman also chipped with eight of his 16 points for the game in the decisive fourth quarter. It was a balanced offensively effort for Los Angeles that had six players in double figures with four coming from the bench. Pau Gasol had 16 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes played in his first game back.
The game did not get off the right foot for the Lakers as Jeff Green got off to a quick start as hee scored Boston’s first 11 points of the game. Los Angeles was able to tie the game at 13-13 but the Celtics responded by using a 13-4 run that gave them their largest lead of the quarter at nine points.
After a Kris Humphries jumper extended Boston’s lead to 11 points, the Lakers answered with a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to just two ponts at . The Celtics maintained their lead for the remainder of the quarter, but Los Angeles was able to narrow the margin down to two points once again at 46-44 at halftime due to 53 percent shooting from the field in the first half.
In his first game back after a seven-game absence due to a right groin strain, Gasol played a productive 22 minutes on the court on Friday as he scored 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting with seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
“It felt good,” Gasol said. “The main thing that I wanted to accomplish was to get through the game without any soreness or discomfort in the groin and I did that so I’m glad I was able to be out there again and be effective. I just look forward to building on it.”
Gasol’s performance also included a couple of made shots in the low-post that were a telling of sign that his groin was feeling much better than it has been over the past couple of weeks.
As for his head coach, he was satisfied with the 13-year veteran’s solid performance against the Celtics.
“It was fine,” D’Antoni said. “I think he ran out of wind the second half. Overall, it was a good for the first time out.”
As the 33-year-0ld gets more games under his belt, his production will also increase as well as his minutes. Despite having a slow start to the year, Gasol has had a productive season averaging 17.0 points and 10.2 rebounds in 44 games played. This includes prior to his injury posting 10 consecutive games of at least 20 points scored.
Photo Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
Bob Garcia IV
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