Nov 20, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D
Who says the Lakers won’t be able to pull out close contests in the Mike D’Anonti system? Oh…right. Its guys like me who were saying that.
Well color me wrong (for one night at least) as the Lakers outlasted the Brooklyn Nets in a 95-90 victory at Staples.
It wasn’t the portrait of perfection by any means. Dwight Howard’s free throw woes are a legit concern. As a team the Lakers shot just 51% from the line with Howard taking top honors for best of the worst making just 7 of 19 attempts one of which was one of the ugliest air balls misses you’ll ever see.
There was also some of that late game confusion as the offense turned into the typical standing around and waiting for Kobe Bryant to force a horrible shot.
But none of the aforementioned shortcomings could overshadow what was most impressive of all for D’Antoni’s debut. The Lakers actually played some inspired defense getting big stop after big stop down the stretch.
The D proved to be the key as the Lakers squandered a 10-0 start out of the gate allowing Deron Williams to lead a charge that put the Nets in the lead. Soon this one turned into a back and forth battle featuring the brilliance of Bryant and dueling bigs as D12 and Brook Lopez went toe to toe.
In the end it was L.A.’s improved defensive play in the second half that sealed the deal. D-Will scored 16 of his 22 points in the first half. By the end of the game Williams was relegated into forcing a triple over Pau Gasol and Kobe with the game on the line. This was after he seemed to get whatever shot he wanted in the first half.
Clearly D’Antoni wasn’t giving lip service when he said this team was going to play defense.
A big part of playing good team defense is rebounding and the Lakers certainly did just that. Gasol and Howard owned the paint pulling down a combined 26 boards.
Who says D’Antoni can’t coach bigs? Oh…that’s right. I was saying that.
It’s too early for me to change my tune completely but this was an impressive start. You can already see how much better this offense will be with Steve Nash back in the mix. Both Kobe and Pau are very comfortable being facilitators. Those two kept the rock moving as the Lakers got double figures from four of the five starters. Getting production from the bench is still a struggle. But let’s not dwell on the negative.
This type of win can only be a positive. Speaking of positivity, the Lakers are finally over .500 improving to 6-5. That’s 5-1 without Mike Brown…just wanted to point that out.
These types of wins might not become the regular for the D’Antoni led Lake Show but its nice to know they’ll have a reference point next time a low scoring, grind it out, playoff type of affair comes around.