The Lakers earned their fourth victory of the season while handing the Phoenix Suns their 6th loss of the year. It’s always fun to pick on a terrible defensive team like the Suns, especially when we end the game with all our reserves on the court. Our stars played like stars and we finally got a glimpse of what Jodie Meeks can bring to this bench. Sunday’s game against Houston should be a good test to see if these Lakers are turning a new leaf defensively; plus Coach D’Antoni will be making his Lakers debut which will definitely have the Staples Center abuzz. Anyway, here are the grades for last night’s victory:
Darius Morris: B
Solid game for Darius in which we finally saw glimpses of what the young point guard can bring to this team off the bench with his hustle and defense. Not to mention, the young fella had some nice assists, especially his sweet bullet pass to J. Hill for a wide open dunk right before half-time. I’d like to see Darius coming off the bench when we need to pressure the ball against the top point guards in the league.
Kobe Bryant: A-
Another rock solid game from the Mamba while leading the Lakers with 31 points. I love watching Kobe control the tempo of games as well as set up guys like he has been, averaging over 6 assists in the last four games. Would have given Kobe the solid A if he had more rebounds to show, but it must be tough to grab boards when you have Dwight Howard down there. Should be interesting to see how Coach D will use Kobe once Nash is back running the show. Regardless, Kobe has been playing terrific, efficient basketball.
Metta World Peace: A-
Great all-around game for Metta as he continues his hot shooting from beyond the arc. MWP has been playing in control and is taking advantage of what defenses give him instead of forcing things. Metta knows he must shoot well from the 3-pont line as well as post up smaller defenders and get easy buckets in the paint. Also nice to have a legitimate tough guy on your team who will never back down from a challenge.
The Lakers look to rebound from their tough Tuesday night loss to the San Antonio Spurs by getting a much needed win against the Phoenix Suns tonight at the Staples Center. Ex-Suns Steve Nash and Mike D’Antoni will not be on the court tonight as the Lakers face a familiar foe in the Suns. Tonight marks Bernie Bickerstaff’s last game as interim coach for the Lakers as D’Antoni will take over head coaching duties beginning Sunday against Houston.
The Lakers come into this game as favorites against a Suns team featuring a starting point guard not named Steve Nash for the first time since 2003. While their new point guard, Goran Dragic, is a solid young player, he is no Steve Nash. The Suns have a young core of players including Dragic, athletic forward Michael Beasley, sharp shooter Jared Dudley, big man Marcin Gortat, and ex-Laker Shannon Brown.
WHAT 2 WATCH 4:
Steve Blake is questionable tonight so we will see more of the Duhon/Morris combo against Dragic.
Luis Scola vs Pau Gasol is always an exciting matchup, but look for Pau to be aggressive from the get go. He had a mediocre offensive game on Tuesday, so he should be coming out of the gates looking to establish himself on the block immediately.
D12 vs The Polish Hammer. Gortat was Howard’s backup in Orlando from 2007 – 2010 until he was signed by Phoenix, so they are very familiar with one another. Dwight is getting healthier as the season progresses so look for him to have a break out performance against his old backup.
It only took 45 minutes for newly minted Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni to separate himself from his predecessor. Even though Lakers fans may still be scratching their heads over the Lakers’ front office choice to pass on the beloved 11-time champion Phil Jackson to step in, it’s obvious that this whole fiasco just needs time to fade away.
What’s the best remedy for a Mike Brown firing and Phil Jackson hangover? A promise of Showtime 2.0, of course.
At his introductory press conference yesterday, D’Antoni made it clear that he fully expects this team, as currently constructed, to score well over 100 points every game. Not only is that a tall order, that’s a lot of tacos for Staples Center attendees.
It may seem far-fetched at this point in the season, D’Antoni’s Run and Gun history tells us that his expectations are, if anything, reasonable. He’s done more with lesser talented teams and the New York Knicks experiment was hampered by a revolving door of free agents and roster tweaks.
D’Antoni’s West Virginia charm was in full effect yesterday, as he seemed sincerely thankful for an opportunity to work with the best on-paper starting five in the NBA. On crutches and medicated, he wasted no time pitching his brand of basketball and giving fans some hope for this season.
Mike D’Antoni had his press conference today, and looked relaxed, and comfortable (though he did acknowledge that he was “medicated”), as he talked to reporters for more than 45 minutes. D’Antoni will feature an uptempo offense, but expects the team to be good defensively as well.
He said the Lakers should average 110-115 points a game, and that he wants players to concentrate on playing to their strengths, and not doing too much (using Jodie Meeks’ dribbling in recent games as an example). HHe is excited to be back with Steve Nash, and to coach Kobe. He won’t call many plays, allowing his players and the flow of the game to dictate the action on the court. Mike will tailor his system to his players, such as the “unstoppable” Dwight Howard.
The Lakers and Time Warner Cable have reached a deal with DirecTV to broadacst Laker games. After two weeks, and one fired (and hired) head coach later, the Lakers are available to nearly all Pay-TV subscribers.
It’s been said that we can learn more from losing than we can from winning.
What we can learn from the Lakers’ 84-82 loss to the San Antonio Spurs Tuesday night is that this team is starting to hit its stride.
Los Angeles has won 2 of its last 3 games since the abrupt departure of then head coach Mike Brown. Under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, the Lakers have displayed a hint of the basketball brilliance we knew was present in this team since this summer.
Granted, the two wins came at the expense of the struggling Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings. But wins don’t keep a record of who you play. And with the changes this organization is faced with, the Lakers needed to face opponents that could sharpen their skills as opposed to testing them. Simply put, they needed easy prey.
After all, a lion hunting for the first time doesn’t go after a full grown gazelle.
This is not another article about why the Lakers chose Mike D’Antoni over the Zen Master. You’re welcome.
Rather, I would like to focus on the fact that Kobe Bryant is quietly having one of the most efficient seasons of his career in his 17th year in the league. Through eight games, the Black Mamba is scoring 26.4 points per game while shooting a scorching55.1% from the field, including 44.1% from behind the arc, and 92% from the charity stripe.
Most fans will dismiss this as a short-term phenomenon that will level out by the end of the season. However, when you look at a detailed breakdown of Kobe’s offensive statistics so far this season (provided by HoopData), you immediately notice a few distinctions from recent years that indicate that this season may just be different:
The Lakers competed the entire 48 minutes and nearly defeated the top team in the Western Conference Tuesday night. However, some late game defensive mental lapses and offensive execution issues led to a tough two point loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Considering that this team nearly won by running a freestyle offense and defense shows how important talent really is in the NBA and also how loaded this Lakers team is. With Coach D’Antoni bringing his offensive “genius” to the team, we should see a juggernaut Lakers team by the All-Star break. Regardless, here are the grades for last night’s game:
Darius Morris: C
Considering he’s a sophomore and 3rd string PG, we should temper our expectations with young Darius, but he did push the ball effectively down the court and had ZERO turnovers, only Lakers players that can boast about that last night. Going 1-4 from the charity stripe will not help this young guard get much playing time though
Kobe Bryant: A-
Really wanted to give Kobe the solid A, but that defensive lapse on Danny Green’s game winner basically cost us the game. However, Kobe had another solid night dishing out 8 dimes and shooting a very efficient 12-19 for 28 points. Kobe has a real pulse on this Lakers team and has yet to force anything like he used to in years past
Metta World Peace: B-
While he didn’t have a great offensive night, Metta did help in limiting Tony Parker’s penetration down the stretch with some nice defense. His jumper has improved and he is bound to have better looks under D’Antoni’s system. The Staples would’ve gone nuts if he hit that final 3 he took
Pau Gasol: B
An average game for Pau. This team needs him to be more assertive on the offensive end and stop settling for the long jumpers like he has. His game should pick up on the offensive end once D’Antoni’s system is implemented and Nash returns to the lineup.
Dwight Howard: B+
Great night on the boards for Dwight, but he really needs to cut down on the turnovers. He is constantly getting stripped of the ball on his moves towards the basket, but that may be due to a lack of explosiveness which will slowly come back. He played good defense on Duncan and also altered some shots when he rotated over from the weak side. Credit the Spurs’ big men, Duncan and Splitter, for their constant pressure on Dwight and not letting him dominate the offensive glass as he usually does
With everything that this Lakers team has undergone in the first few weeks of the early season, that would have been the perfect victory to put under their belt – a win against the top team of the Western Conference. All things considered, however, the Lakers and Spurs had a competitive night, with no double-digit leads, a slew of lead changes, and a below-90 final score. It wasn’t the prettiest basketball we’ve seen these two teams play, but it was, for the first time this season, an exciting game to watch for Laker fans.
There are no moral victories, true, but the Lakers are playing under an interim head coach who’s on his third game since their former coach was fired, their new coach won’t be on the sidelines until Sunday, their starting and back-up point guards are both out with injuries so they basically played the back-ups to the back-ups. All things considered, this game could’ve ended a lot worse than it did.
The game opened with a 10-2 Spurs advantage, but the Lakers finished the first quarter on top 24-18 after a sudden scoring spurt out of a timeout. Both teams went through occasional scoring droughts, with the defense from each side picking up as the game went on, but the Lakers lost this game on their own accord. Their carelessness on the floor and from the free throw line, their lapses in judgment in late-game situations – it all compounded in the final seconds and the Spurs got the best of them.
Newly hired head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers Mike D’Antoni hasn’t coached a game for his team yet, but he’s already setting high goals for himself and the Lake Show.
In an interview with John Ireland earlier this week, D’Anotni publicly stated that if the Lakers aren’t in the hunt for a championship, he’ll consider this season a personal failure.
“If we’re not at least in the hunt, a serious hunt, then I’ve failed as a head coach. I’m comfortable with that.”
D’Antoni is currently recovering from total knee replacement surgery and is expected to make his way to the sidelines this week.
We’ll have Steve Nash running the offense and he’s really good at getting everybody involved the right way,” D’Antoni continued. “What makes it really exciting is that everybody’s at the point in their career where all they want is the championship. Once you have that settled — and it should be like that everywhere but it isn’t — once you have that settled, it’s like, ‘OK, let’s sit down and figure this out.’ And we definitely have the talent to be able to do that.
D’Antoni has not coached in the NBA since resigning from the New York Knicks on March 14, 2012. The Knicks were 18-24 prior to his resignation. He did have a successful assistant coaching job this summer, however. As a member of the the 2012 Team USA men’s basketball team, D’Antoni won a gold medal with Kobe Bryant.
As new Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni makes his transition to Los Angeles to become the Lakers’ 24th head coach in franchise history, the makeup of the rest of the coaching staff remains up in the air. It has since been reported by Ken Berger of CBS Sports that D’Antoni will likely try to add fellow Team USA assistant coach Nate McMillian:
This comes as no surprise considering the close relationship they have developed over the past eight years. Both D’Antoni and McMillan were assistants to coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Team USA staff en route to two Olympic gold medals. According to Berger, D’Antoni’s intention is to bring in McMillan to be the “defensive coordinator” while D’Antoni will focus more on the offensive side.
With the Lakers off to a poor start, trade rumors have begun to swirl around Kobe Bryant, leading many to speculate if he'll leave for greener pastures. Kobe puts those rumors to rest in his interview with Yahoo Sports.