David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Mike D’Antoni must not realize that he’s coaching in the NBA. When there is a formula out there to beat a given opponent word spreads fast. As the Cleveland Cavaliers proved tonight all you’ve got to do in order to notch a win over the Lake Show is push the tempo because L.A. never gets back in transition and to give them enough rope to hang themselves.
The Lakers’ latest road debacle was a defenseless 19-tunrover 100-94 loss to the Cavs, a team that was on a five game skid.
Mike D’Antoni must not realize that he’s coaching in Los Angeles. When a team is assembled with the goal of winning a title being 4 games below .500 and out of the playoff picture is unacceptable.
Tonight you would have thought the Lakers might have come out with some sort of intensity given all the negative talk filling the hoops universe. Instead they were flatter than a Denny’s pancake falling behind by 16 to the lowly Cavaliers.
One man who did play like he had something to prove was Kyrie Irving. In his first game back from injury Irving balled out against the Lakers in an unstoppable 28-point, 11-dime dandy. Most important of all was Irving killed it in the clutch hitting a big three when the Lakers were in striking distance while setting up his teammates thanks to his ability to slice and dice the listless Laker D with ease.
Another guy that definitely earned his pay tonight was none other than Kobe Bryant. Save all your typical “Kobe shoots to much” analysis for a more appropriate occasion. Tonight KB24 probably didn’t shoot enough. In his younger days this would have been a 60-point explosion for Bryant. Instead Kobe settled for 42 on 16 of 28 shooting. Down the stretch it was Kobe who kept it close sinking some unreal threes while attacking without conscious.
Normally a 42-point game by Kobe plus a 19-point, 20-rebound effort from Dwight Howard would be enough to make victory come into focus.
That is not the case in this D’Antoni hell we find our Purple and Gold trapped in.
Without any sense of how to defend guys like C.J. Miles go off for 28 while Anderson Varejao gets easy buckets no thanks to horrendous defensive rotations.
This is no longer a problem. This is an epidemic.
Time and time again the Cavs got cheap buckets courtesy of sloppy turnovers and complete breakdowns on defense. This is a trend and it’s not changing. D’Antoni has no answers only the ability to observe the problems.
Now is it unfair to lay all of the Lakers’ woes on D’Antoni? Most definitely it is. Plenty of these issues were present long before Jim Buss drunk dialed D’Antoni on a Sunday night. However is D’Antoni paid to have answers to these problems? Yes he is and thus far he has none.
Of all the ways to begin a crucial four game road swing this is about the worst start possible. This team is sinking further down the ladder in the Western Conference. There is no switch that can be flipped to make all11 teams in front of the Lakers magically start playing worse. So that means this team has got to start playing better. Unfortunately that seems highly unlikely given the continued problems. D’Antoni said he’s waiting for a “gut-check” to get this team going. After tonight the only “gut-check” strong enough to jolt these Lakers would be a loss to an AAU team.