Mike D’Antoni ‘not embarrassed’ by Lakers
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK — Mike D’Antoni returns to Madison Square Garden tonight, bringing with him a team that’s not living up to expectations to play a team he stopped coaching last season because it wasn’t living up to expectations.
So you’ll have to excuse the New York Knicks, who, unlike the Los Angeles Lakers, are exceeding expectations this season, if they hope their old coach continues that trend. At least for one night.
“We know they’ve been struggling a little bit as of late,” Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said. “We know everybody’s trying to step it up when they come to the Garden and win that basketball game. We have a great opportunity to do something special here over these next couple of weeks in the homestand, and we want to take advantage of that.”
The Knicks have taken advantage of pretty much everybody at this point. They are 16-5, sitting atop the Eastern Conference, playing great team basketball, ranked second in points per possession and 16th in points allowed per possession and finding ways to win with their star player, Anthony, having an MVP-type season, averaging 27.7 points per game.
It would appear the Knicks should be able to keep things rolling against the Lakers, who are coming off a 100-94 loss at the Cleveland Cavaliers — a team that had one of the worst records in the league — and led D’Antoni to have a heated exchange with a news reporter after the game.
What’s interesting about the Lakers is that even though they are 9-13, they are playing well on offense (seventh in efficiency) and OK on defense (14th in efficiency). But they are not winning games as expected. They are nine games out of first place, in 12th place in the conference and having difficulty finding a way to make it work. That’s all despite star shooting guard Kobe Bryant’s excellent season.
Like Anthony, Bryant is putting up MVP-like numbers, averaging 29.2 points a game. But, unlike Anthony, when he scores a lot, his team doesn’t win. The Lakers are 1-11 when Bryant scores at least 30 points.
“I’m very upset,” Bryant said after … [For more on Mike D'Antoni 'not embarrassed' by Lakers entering Knicks game, click here.]