Darius Morris scored a career-high 12 points for the Lakers while doing a decent defensive job on Jeremy Lin, who had 10 assists but just five points on 2-of-9 shooting. Lin visited with D'Antoni after the game, recalling their remarkable few months together last season in New York.
"He's the ultimate players' coach, very similar to Coach McHale," Lin said. "I think he just gets it. He knows how to get the most out of his players. They'll be just fine. What you saw tonight, they'll probably be able to do pretty consistently, in terms of moving the ball and spacing. And with Dwight Howard down low, it's tough because he has that whole key to roam in."
With an offensive rebound with 5½ minutes to play, Bryant recorded his first triple-double since Nov. 3, 2010, at Sacramento. The NBA's fifth-leading career scorer was in top form, breaking down defenders and hitting acrobatic shots with the flair of his best games.
But Bryant doesn't have to win games by himself, and the rest of the Lakers were sharp as well. Howard attacked the basket relentlessly while his teammates set him up for high-percentage shots, and Metta World Peace contributed 15 points.
With a smooth jumper in the second half, Gasol became the 10th foreign-born player and the first Spaniard to score 15,000 NBA points. The four-time All-Star has won two titles with the Lakers, and the Staples Center fans gave him an ovation when his achievement was announced.
"I think it's something to be proud of," said Gasol, who joins a list of foreign-born scorers including Nash, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dirk Nowitzki and Dominique Wilkins. "I'm happy to reach this milestone, but I want to continue to be as productive as I've been throughout my career."
NOTES: Houston concludes its three-game trip Monday at Utah. ... Shortly after D'Antoni confirmed Bickerstaff is staying with the team, the Lakers formally announced Dan D'Antoni will join the staff as an assistant. Mike D'Antoni's older brother has been in practice with the Lakers since Thursday. ... Houston C Omer Asik left the game in the first half with a cut over his right eye, but returned for the second half after getting five stitches.