Bryant has 21 points, Lakers rout Maccabi Haifa 126-83
LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant scored 21 points and Roy Hibbert had 16 rebounds, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 126-83 exhibition rout of Israel’s Maccabi Haifa on Sunday night.
Bryant, about to begin his 20th NBA season more than nine months after undergoing right shoulder surgery, played 19 minutes and made six of 10 shots while going 4 for 6 from 3-point range.
“We try to keep him below the 3-point line. But when he’s scoring it like he was tonight, he obviously has the capability of being able to step out there as well,” coach Byron Scott said.
‘He’s looks better and better. His timing looks great his movement looks great, and he just looks so much more fluid right now. He says he feels great, so right now we’ll keep staying the course.”
Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell, the second overall pick in the draft and one of seven rookies on the preseason roster, had 11 assists and five points in 18 minutes off the bench after sitting out a game because of a bruised glute.
“I’m looking for the team to get better,” Bryant said. “We’ve got plenty of work to do, obviously. The team is so young, and we have a lot of learning to do.”
The Lakers, playing their first preseason game at Staples Center following back-to-back losses to the Utah in Hawaii and another against Toronto at Ontario, California, opened with a 17-2 run while Maccabi Haifa missed nine of its first 10 shots.
“The preseason is just like summer league — I don’t put a whole lot of stock into it,” Scott said. “It’s all about trying to get ready for the regular season and trying to put all your stuff in at both ends of the floor. If you win, that’s great. If you don’t, you hope you can learn from it.”
The Lakers converted 15 Maccabi Haifa turnovers into 30 points. The visitors scored 23 points off 22 Lakers turnovers.
“Offensively, we moved the ball pretty well and got 30 assists, which is pretty good,” Scott said. “But we also had 22 turnovers, so we’ve got to do a much better job of taking care of the ball against pressure. I thought a lot of our turnovers were just carelessness.”
Reserve Reggie Buckner had 20 points and seven rebounds for Maccabi Haifa.
Only one of its players has NBA experience – reserve forward and Los Angeles native Dijon Thompson, who played a combined 16 games with Phoenix and Atlanta between November 2005 and January 2007. Thompson is back with Maccabi Haifa after spending last season with Hapoel Tel Aviv.
MACCABI HAIFA: Thompson, the second player off the bench, missed his first six shots before hitting a 3-pointer with 9:16 left in the third quarter. He finished 2 for 11 with eight points in 28 minutes.
LAKERS: Lou Williams, who led the team in scoring in each of the first three exhibition games with a 17.7 average, had 13 points in 19 minutes. . F Julius Randle, who suffered a broken leg on opening night last season after just 14 minutes on the court and missed the rest of what should have been his rookie campaign, had 14 points and nine rebounds in 24 minutes.
DID NOT PLAY: Lakers F Brandon Bass remained out with a bone bruise in his left knee, as did G Marcelo Huertas due to a right hamstring strain. . Maccabi Haifa swingman Nigel Spikes was sidelined with a sore right knee.
UNITED NATIONS: The Lakers also have hosted preseason games against Maccabi Tel Aviv (1990) and FC Barcelona (2010).
GIVE PEACE A CHANCE: Metta World Peace came off the Lakers’ bench for the first time with 7:04 left in the fourth quarter and his team leading 116-67.
UP NEXT: Maccabi Haifa begins its regular-season schedule on Oct. 16, hosting Ironi Nahariya. The Lakers take on Sacramento on Tuesday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.