D’Antoni wants Lakers to hurry up, and win
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The comic relief may have lightened the mood among the media late Wednesday night, but new Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni wasn’t feeling any better after his second game on the job.
And this had nothing to do with his recent knee replacement surgery that’s left him hobbling like an extra in ‘The Walking Dead.’
The first loss of the D’Antoni era came in the most unexpected of ways, the lowly Sacramento Kings outworking the lackluster Lakers and making Pau Gasol look like a soothsayer for his comment made after a win over Brooklyn in D’Antoni’s debut at the Staples Center the night before.
“They’re all going to be hard,” Gasol had said. “Every team likes to beat the Lakers.”
Not that he or many of his teammates did much to stop the Kings, who won the game 113-97. All the momentum of the post-Mike Brown Lakers came to a halt — the five wins in six tries that seemed to justify the surprising decision to ditch the defense-first mentality and laborious Princeton offense that came with the former coach. What this was, D’Antoni had said with a laugh perhaps so he didn’t cry, was “Muppet time” instead of “Showtime … like we were wrestling in mud … like watching sap out of a tree.”
Watching D’Antoni was far more entertaining. The looks of disbelief after so many blown defensive assignments (most notably in Sacramento’s 40-point, fourth-quarter), that get-off-my-lawn glare after a haphazard possession or any of their 20 turnovers, and those zombie walks up and down the court that happened only in his moments of maximum frustration.
“The first half might (have been) the worst basketball I’ve seen in 10 years,” D’Antoni had said of the 41 points his team mustered before the break. “I was in shock.”
Sure, they only had time for two practices in the 10 days since D’Antoni was hired instead of former coach Phil Jackson. But his “amoeba” offense – as his older brother and newest Lakers assistant coach, Dan D’Antoni, prefers to call it – was supposed to prevent nights like this, to mold itself around the strengths … [For more on Mike D'Antoni wants the Lakers to hurry up, and win, click here.]