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.

Hayward and Stevens reunite for their first All-Star appearances

Hayward and Stevens reunite for their first All-Star appearances

NEW ORLEANS –  For years, Gordon Hayward dreamed of this day, of being able to step on the floor and be among the top players in the NBA.

But in all those scenarios that raced through his mind, the idea that his first journey towards official stardom in the NBA – being named an all-star – would come at the same time that Brad Stevens would make his all-star coaching debut too?

“It’s really cool,” Hayward said. “If I were to sit here and say we’d both be at this position seven years ago, eight years ago when I was sitting down with him for a recruiting visit, there’s no way I would have believed you. It’s pretty special that we’re both here.”

Indeed, both Stevens and Hayward have arrived by taking somewhat atypical journeys. 

For Hayward, his emergence during the NCAA Tournament showcased a big-time talent at a mid-major schools whose skills, in the eyes of many, could translate well at the next level. 

“None of us knew how good Gordon could be at this level,” an NBA scout told CSNNE.com about Hayward. “But he was more athletic than we thought after working him out. And you knew he could shoot, but he can handle the ball a little better, too. And that’s how a lot of us saw him; a good player who had some things going for him early that probably translated better at this level than the average fan might realize.”

Stevens, who led Butler to a pair of national runner-up finishes, recruited Hayward at a time when he was a highly regarded tennis prospect.

He was good enough to where there was a point when Hayward thought about giving up basketball altogether to focus solely on playing tennis. 

“In high school, I was 5-foot-10 as a freshman and I wanted to play a college sport,” Hayward said. “There’s not too many 5-10 basketball players that make it, let alone play college but then make it to the NBA. I thought I might have a better chance at playing tennis in college. That’s when I almost decided to go with this full-time.”

Hayward was in the middle of working on a speech to tell his high school basketball coach that he was going to quit the team to focus on tennis full-time. 

And then he had what turned into a life-changing conversation with his mother. 

“I came up to her, and was talking to her about it. And when I was going to do it, she told me to stick out the year,” Hayward recalled.

She reminded him of all the time he put in to become a better basketball player, and why he wouldn’t want to just throw all that to the side for a sport that they both knew he loved. 

“I hit a growth spurt at the end of the year, and gradually got better and better,” he said. 

That growth, both in terms of his game and the attention that came with that improvement, has led him to being an NBA all-star, an undeniable acknowledgement that he is among the best in the NBA. And making it all that much sweeter is that he’s getting to enjoy it for the first time with Stevens, a man whose role in Hayward’s life and ascension to this point should not be understated. While Hayward acknowledges the role Stevens played in his steady improvement as a player, the role Stevens played in his life was even more significant in his growth as a person. 

The two don’t talk nearly as often as they did during their Butler days or shortly after Hayward was off to the NBA and Stevens was still in the college ranks. 

But there is an undeniable bond that will forever link these two with one another, a bond that becomes all that much tighter with them making the unlikely journey from being more than just big-time talents at the mid-major level. They are now among the best in their respective roles, achieving the kind of success so few believed was possible a few years ago. 

While Stevens acknowledges how unique and cool it is to be here with Hayward, he quickly shifts the focus to what he has always believed to be the keys to success: team and player, in that order.

“For him to get a chance to be among the elite players in the game is a special opportunity that was earned,” Stevens said. “It’s earned with your individual success and what your team is able to do. Their team is having such great success. I’m happy that he gets a chance to experience this, and that they look like a team that’s going to make a deep run in the playoffs.”

To hear those words is not at all surprising to Hayward. 

“He’s such a good coach and such a great guy and mentor to me,” Hayward said. “I’m happy we’re here.”

Jackie Bradley Jr. explains why he wouldn't skip White House visit

Jackie Bradley Jr. explains why he wouldn't skip White House visit

Jackie Bradley Jr. will likely have a spotless attendance record for White House trips.

The Boston Red Sox outfielder began discussing those championship trips to meet the president after Red Sox chairman Tom Werner referenced the New England Patriots' Super Bowl win at a team get-together on Friday morning.

“If my team is going, yes, I’m going,” Bradley Jr. told WEEI.com's Rob Bradford, adding later, “I don’t like politics, not even a little bit.”

The Patriots so far have six players who have openly stated they will not attend New England's White House trip to meet President Donald Trump. Team leaders like Dont'a Hightower and Devin McCourty are among those unwilling to attend.

For Bradley, the White House trip is not about making a political statement.

“The reason why we’re going there is because we did something together as a team. The White House is cool,” he said. “I’m with my team."

The 26-year-old outfielder has twice attended the championship trip to the nation's capital. In college, he went with the South Carolina Gamecocks after they won the College World Series. He later attended with the Red Sox in 2013. Bradley Jr. said he enjoyed attending the White House to meet Barack Obama, but added he wasn't concerned with which president was hosting the event.

He said: “How many people can say they’ve been to the White House? That alone. There is a lot history there, and I’m a big fan of architecture. I think the whole thing is unique.”