From Mike Brown to Mike D’Antoni. That’s where this season started and that’s where this season is.
This year began with Brown-led loss to the Mavericks. Tonight the early transition came full circle as the D’Antoni-led Lakers lapped the Mavs in a never close 115-89 laugher.
This is about as good as its going to get for the Lakers. Sure, there is still plenty to improve on but inspired defensive play combined with the execution of the offense will lead to victories just like this.
One thing that is still on the needs work list is getting Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol more involved. Even though both got better touches and more shots more must be done to make sure they’re not ignored. Howard was the most effective we’ve seen him on the road swing. Gasol is still looking lost but even so the presence of the bigs opened the floor.
Metta World Peace pretty much ended this one in the first quarter as he hit some wide open threes early. By the end of the first the tone was set. The Lakers were pushing the tempo and Dallas was sloppy. L.A. took the first period 36-23 and never looked back.
A balanced scoring attack was led by Kobe Bryant, Metta and Antawn Jamison of all people. Each man dropped 19 on the night with Jamison adding 15 boards off the bench.
That’s two straight solid performances from Jamison as the second unit is suddenly looking more productive. Jodie Meeks was in double figures and he’s certainly already comfortable playing D’Antoni ball.
Most refreshing of all was the effort given from start to finish. At no point did the Lakers give the Mavs any sort of a life line. The Lakers kept expanding the lead pushing it as high as 30 allowing D’Antoni to empty the bench for the first time this season.
Again this is a best case scenario type of deal. Getting a consistent defensive performance from D’Antoni’s philosophy will be a struggle. But there isn’t any reason why the Lakers can’t put a good 110+ on the board most every night.
This win doesn’t mask the fact that this was also the first road win of the season. That cannot be ignored. Last season the Lakers were awful away from home and it ultimately cost them. The first road swing of the season exposed more problems but this victory certainly provided plenty of answers.
One answer we know for sure was that firing Mike Brown was the right move. L.A. has completed a 180 from opening night to now. What remains to be seen is if D’Antoni is the right choice.