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D’Antoni makes winning debut Knicks extend Hornets skid

LOS ANGELES, Nov 21, (Agencies): Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni took charge from the sideline for the first time on Tuesday as Los Angeles leaned heavily on their defense to earn a gritty 95-90 win over the Brooklyn Nets. D’Antoni was hired by the Lakers last week but had only been able to take the team through practices due to knee surgery. His offense-oriented style helped the Lakers to their highest scores of the season in their last two games but on Tuesday it was their defense that secured the win. Kobe Bryant scored the Lakers’ final eight points, finishing with 25, and Los Angeles (6-5) held the visiting Nets scoreless during a near three-minute stretch late in the fourth quarter to pull out their third straight victory.

Brooklyn (6-3) had a six-point lead midway through the fourth, but went cold in the closing moments and saw their five-game winning streak snapped. “Really happy to get a win, obviously,” D’Antoni told reporters. “We didn’t play well overall but to outplay a team that won five in a row, that means something. (Physically), I feel good. Adrenaline is a good thing.” Deron Williams misfired on a potential game-tying three-pointer with four seconds left. He finished with 22 points and 10 assists while team mate Brook Lopez added 23 in the loss.
“We were right there and we battled the whole game,” Williams said. “We just didn’t make enough plays down the stretch.” The Nets have been on a tear this season since moving from New Jersey to Brooklyn, and a win would have matched their best start to a campaign since the 2002-03 season.

Under coach Avery Johnson, Brooklyn had been thriving on defense and entered the game allowing just 92.5 points per game. The Lakers looked determined to shatter that mark early, scoring the game’s first 10 points amid the excitement of D’Antoni’s arrival. But the Nets recovered to grab a 57-56 lead at halftime before defenses got the upper hand in the second half. Brooklyn went ahead 86-84 with 3:23 to go but could not score again until pulling within one with 36 seconds remaining. Bryant sealed the game at the free throw line where he closed things out with six in a row. Dwight Howard struggled at the line, making just seven of 19, a blemish on an otherwise strong night that included 23 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks.

“The free throws will come, I’m still going to be aggressive,” said Howard, who was intentionally fouled and put at the free throw line by Brooklyn several times late on. But the spotlight was on D’Antoni, who received a standing ovation before the game then sat in a special elevated seat that the Lakers used to reserve for former coach Phil Jackson. “I hope that’s not (Jackson’s) chair. I hope it’s my chair,” D’Antoni joked. “I’m just keeping it warm.”

Knicks 102, Hornets 80
In New Orleans, Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points and the Knicks extended the undermanned New Orleans Hornets’ losing streak to four games. Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith each added 15 points. Felton scored all of his points on five 3-pointers as New York hit 14 3s as a team. Tyson Chandler grabbed 12 rebounds for the Knicks, who’ve won two straight since their first loss of the season and are 8-1 for only the third time in franchise history. Ryan Anderson, starting in place of Anthony Davis, led the Hornets with 15 points. Davis was ruled out shortly before tip-off because tenderness in his left ankle.

76ers 106, Raptors 98
In Philadelphia, Jason Richardson scored six of his 21 points late in the fourth quarter, Nick Young had 23 off the bench and the 76ers rallied to beat Toronto. Jrue Holiday had 19 points and 12 assists and Thad Young scored 18 to help the Sixers win their third straight game. DeMar DeRozan had 24 and Andrea Bargnani scored 22 for the Raptors, who are off to a 3-8 start. Down 87-80 early in the fourth, the Sixers came back to win their first game in which they trailed after three quarters.

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