Bruins

The Lakers get a win ... finally

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The Lakers get a win ... finally

From Comcast SportsNetLOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol have raised enough championship trophies to realize they really shouldn't be getting excited about any win in the first week of November.After the Los Angeles Lakers stumbled through the past five weeks without winning any games anywhere, Kobe and Pau figured it's fine to enjoy a small victory.Dwight Howard scored 28 points, Bryant had 15 points and eight assists, and the Lakers finally got their first victory of the season, 108-79 over the winless Detroit Pistons on Sunday night."We had to stop the bleeding, and there wasn't a way to do it other than coming out here tonight and getting a solid win," said Gasol, who scored 14 points. "We've got a little bit of tension out of ourselves right now."Metta World Peace scored 18 points for the Lakers, who went 0-8 in the preseason and started the regular season 0-3 for just the fourth time in franchise history despite adding Howard and Steve Nash over the summer.But the Lakers' growing worries about coach Mike Brown's new offense and their veteran roster's durability vanished for a night against the struggling Pistons, who never led and never threatened."We needed this bad, just to change the mood and give us some of that feel-good feeling," said Steve Blake, who tied his career high with five steals while starting in Nash's place. "Losing games was tough. I guess we did a good job of staying positive, but it feels good, that's for sure."After their worst start to a season in 34 years, the Lakers occasionally resembled the powerhouse most expected to see this season -- even without Nash, who missed his second game with a small fracture in his leg. Los Angeles took a 28-point lead in the first half and stretched it to 36 points in the third quarter, with Howard dominating the paint and Bryant slipping easily into a playmaking role in the Nash's absence.Howard excelled in the paint against Greg Monroe, hitting 12 of 14 shots -- most of them right at the rim -- and grabbing seven rebounds with just one foul."It's a relief -- more for Mike than anybody else," said Bryant, who appeared to play easily on his sore foot while taking just 10 shots and grabbing seven rebounds.Brown is aware his offense is getting roasted by fans and critics everywhere from Toluca Lake to TNT's "Inside the NBA," but he's sticking with the motion-based schemes."We weren't perfect offensively, but I think everybody -- including us -- got a good taste of what it can be like," Brown said. "We're just barely scratching the surface on where this thing can go. ... Obviously, we needed a win. Every win we get gives us a little more belief on both ends of the floor."Bryant got all eight of his assists in the first half, and the Lakers' starters played only token minutes in the fourth quarter, giving them valuable rest before Wednesday's trip to Utah. While the Lakers wait a week to learn the severity of Nash's injury, Blake had six assists and six points, while backup Darius Morris also played well with six points.The Lakers began the regular season by dropping games to Dallas, Portland and the Clippers, but they've only started a season 0-4 once in franchise history -- and that was in 1957, back in Minneapolis. Los Angeles hadn't even started a season 0-3 since 1978 -- but that team won 15 of its next 16 games."I don't think anyone over there was panicked that they were 0-3 or that they hadn't won a preseason game," Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said. "They're a very good team. There's a big disparity right now between us and the Lakers. It was total domination."Jonas Jerebko scored 18 points for Detroit in the second stop on a difficult six-game road trip.Detroit's five starters all struggled mightily, going a combined 11 for 39 -- including Brandon Knight's 1-for-8 performance. Rodney Stuckey's shooting slump reached three games, with the starting guard going 0 for 6 to drop to 1 for 23 this season."We just had no rhythm to the game and no flow," said Tayshaun Prince, who scored nine points. "We knew the Lakers would try to start off quick, being in the position we were in without a win. You let a team shoot that high a percentage in the first quarter, it's always going to be a problem, especially playing against a great team. We're a young team, and we showed it tonight."The Pistons also might wonder if the NBA's schedule-makers used Apple Maps to plot their trip: Detroit must travel to Denver for a game Tuesday, only to return to California to face the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday before heading back out to Oklahoma City.NOTES:The Lakers hadn't started 0-3 at home since 1959. ... Lakers assistant coach Darvin Ham played on the Pistons' 2004 championship team, which upset the Lakers in the NBA finals. ... Flea, will.i.am, Andy Garcia and Jeremy Sisto attended the game.

Haggerty: Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

Haggerty: Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

BOSTON – To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the presence of Patrice Bergeron is a major game-changer for the Boston Bruins. 

Bergeron finally felt good enough to return to the B’s lineup after missing the first five games of the season with a lower body injury, and the impact was immediate and unmistakable with a goal and four points in a 6-3 win for the Bruins over the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden. It was also a far-reaching impact with the Bruins center pumping life back in the B’s power play with a return to his bumper position, returning a top penalty killer to the Bruins rotation, bringing normalcy back to the forward group by slotting fellow forwards back into their rightful spots and simply giving the B’s their best all-around player back. 

Clearly it was a joyous moment for Bergeron to get back on the ice and play after getting a couple of good days in on the practice ice leading up to Thursday night. 

“It’s hard no matter what it is. You know, when you’re missing games, when you’re missing time, it’s… you miss being out there with the guys and battling with them and going through what we have to go through as a team. It’s good to be back,” said Bergeron. “You don’t know what to expect obviously [after a long layoff]. You’re trying to hope for the best. I don’t want to say I was surprised [at his high level of play] because you want to be at your best every time you step on the ice.”

Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork finally skated together for the first time after building chemistry all throughout training camp, and they finished with four goals, 10 points, a plus-6 rating and 13 of Boston’s 35 shots on net for the game. It was the way that the Bruins roster was drawn up headed into the season before they had a five-game detour due to the injuries, and the hope is that’s the way it will continue to look for the Black and Gold moving forward. 

“I mean it’s pretty evident, you know, the way [Bergeron] played out there. He just, it’s incredible the way he came back and dominated the game after being out for that long, you know?” said Brad Marchand, who finally has his longtime partner-in-crime back. “He’s just such a big part of the group. He’s able to calm things down in the room, on the bench, and he leads by example. He just does everything that a top guy does.”

Perhaps most striking of all was the emotion and organization that the Bruins played with having Bergeron and David Backes back in the lineup. The breakouts, reloading counter-attacks and defensive zone coverage all had more noticeable structure, and the Bruins were able to get the wave after wave attack from their forward groups that spurred on goals both during 5-on-5 play and when special teams were involved. 

Some of that is getting two highly talented players like Bergeron and Backes back from injury, and some of it is getting an important, tone-setting leader like No. 37 back for everything he does off the ice as well. 

Bergeron set up the important answering goal in the first period by firing a puck that created a rebound for Bjork to clean up, he did the same for David Krejci’s power play to close out the first period scoring, he created the turnover that led to Marchand’s goal in the second period and then he sniped home his own goal from the bumper spot to finally clinch things in the third period. It was clear that Bergeron is still navigating through discomfort and some level of injury while playing at this point, but his hockey IQ and his gritty toughness are allowing him to still be a highly effective player. 

“I think it was self-evident out there that the play on the ice, first of all, built a matchup against whoever we really want. The Power play obviously [was a] big impact there. I think it’s just morale as much as anything, on the bench and in the room,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Those intangibles, leadership, first shift of the game, he’s standing up. They had scored a goal and [he’s] kind of settling the troops down, talking about the details of the game. 

“[He’s talking about] finishing your routes on the fore-check and reloading all the way to our zone.

[It’s the] stuff that coaches preach a lot, but goes in one ear and out the other sometimes. When you hear it from the leaders of the group, it means so much more. To have that back in the room and along with David Backes, those are guys that are just vocal players that bring a lot in that aspect. It’s generally, a quiet group. That doesn’t mean you can’t be effective and win as a quiet group, but it just helps sometimes to have a little bit of that energy.”

While it was a clearly a feel-good story to see Bergeron back in his proper environs on the ice, it was also just as apparent there’s still some lower body discomfort with the Bruins center. He looked like he was in pain or laboring at times out on the ice, and admitted after the game that the lower body injury might be something he’ll need to manage for the time being. That would tend to mean that once again this isn’t something that’s going to go away anytime soon, and Bergeron will again need to grind his way through the pain. 

“That’s the million dollar question, right? I don’t know what to say to that. I guess yeah, I mean I’m feeling good,” said Bergeron. “But there’s… we might manage a little bit for quite a while. But I’m feeling good and tonight was no issue.”

Clearly Bergeron and the Bruins will gladly take it if he can be a difference-maker like he was on Thursday night with a four points, eight shot attempts and plenty of hard-working shifts in his 20:58 of ice time for the game. They’ll just need to keep their fingers crossed that No. 37 can keep suiting up and playing at a high level, and that the 32-year-old can avoid any further problems after already sitting out the first five games of the regular season.