Basketball / Sports

Newcomers help Lakers top Celtics, 101-92

LOS ANGELES--MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore were widely viewed as financially necessary but otherwise insignificant pieces of a deal made the day before the NBA's trade deadline that helped the organization clear up a point guard logjam and shave payroll.

After Friday, that perception might need to be adjusted.

The two swingmen, who rarely played in Golden State, helped fuel a fourth-quarter rally at Staples Center as the Lakers won, 101-92, over the Boston Celtics, the rival franchise suffering through a season nearly as bad as that of the Lakers, and snapped an eight-game home losing streak.

"Both of them played well," Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I think that energized the other guys that were on the court. It's nice to see some people competing."

The duo, which averaged a combined 4.2 points per game with the Warriors, broke out against the Celtics. Bazemore scored 15 points, including a pair of 3-pointers down the stretch, while Brooks added 14.

With Pau Gasol having survived yet another trade deadline, the veteran center played for the first time since Jan. 31 because of a strained groin and was one of three players to score 16 points. However the starters did not play the fourth quarter, as the reserves opened the period on a 13-2 run, which was capped by a steal and dunk by Brooks to tie the score at 76.

Brooks started the season with the Celtics before being traded in January to the Warriors and was immediately at home in D'Antoni's run-and-gun system.

"D'Antoni gives you that confidence," Brooks said. "He just wants you to go out there and play your game. So I feel free doing that."

Bazemore and Brooks, both of whom become free agents after this season, joined the Lakers for Friday's morning shootaround after being acquired in a trade for veteran Steve Blake.

Their performances were particularly stunning given their lack of familiarity with the team.

"You just have to have the right mindset," D'Antoni said. "Their mindset probably was, 'I have an opportunity to do it,' and they were going to make the best of it. And they did tonight."

Bryant still ailing

Hope that Kobe Bryant will be able to play before the end of the season took another hit Friday when the Lakers said the superstar is still experiencing swelling and soreness in his left knee.

Bryant was examined Friday by a team physician, and will be re-evaluated in three more weeks, the Lakers said. There are 27 games remaining, and it's unclear if Bryant could possibly return before the end of the regular season April 16.

He has appeared in only six games this season, missing the first month and a half because of a torn Achilles' tendon. He has not played since Dec. 17, when he fractured the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee.

"It's been a slow process," Bryant told reporters last week at All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. He has still not been cleared for weight-bearing activities, and instead has been limited to training on a stationary bicycle.

"I just try to keep blinders on and do what I have to do," Bryant said, "and not worry about too much what's going on around you, but just try to stay focused on what your responsibilities are."

The organization also announced that Nick Young, who has not played since Feb. 5 in Cleveland because of a fractured patella, has been cleared to play Sunday when the Lakers host the Brooklyn Nets.

"That's what Nick wants to do," Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He's looking forward to that. I think maybe tomorrow, see how he goes in practice, and just see how he feels."

Xavier Henry, who has not played since late December because of a meniscus abnormality in his left knee, also met with a team doctor Friday and was cleared to participate in basketball activities, but will be held out of full-court and five-on-five drills.

New Lakers

MarShon Brooks has played for so many teams in the last year that the odds were relatively good that he would make his Lakers debut against one of them.

Since the end of last season, Brooks has been traded from Brooklyn to Boston to Golden State and, this week, to the Lakers.

When he learned of the trade Wednesday before the Warriors played in Sacramento, Brooks said he thought, "Again?"

"I had just got traded to the Warriors (on Jan. 14)," Brooks said. "I didn't even learn the offense yet."

He and Kent Bazemore were acquired from Golden State on the eve of the NBA's trade deadline for guard Steve Blake. The two players joined the team for Friday morning's shootaround at the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo, and got a crash course before playing the Celtics.

Both players came off the bench Friday, with Bazemore scoring 15 points and Brooks 14.

Brooks appeared in just seven games with the Warriors, marking a severe decline from his rookie season in 2011-12 when he averaged 12.6 points for the Nets and was selected to the All-Rookie second team.

"This year I haven't really had the opportunity to play at all, haven't really played meaningful minutes at all," Brooks said. "I feel from my rookie year I've gotten a lot better. I worked on my body for two years, at this stage I just need minutes to put it all together."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens praised Brooks for his offensive ability and said if he had not been traded in a three-team deal Jan. 14, likely would have found minutes in Boston because of injuries.

"Nobody has any doubt he can score the ball," Stevens said. "He's a good shooter who I thought worked to become a better shooter while he was with us and did a great job working on his game."azemore, in his second year after going undrafted out of Old Dominion, averaged 2.3 points this season in 6.1 minutes per game.

(c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

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