Let The D’Antoni era begin in Laker Land. The former New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns head coach spent his first game on the sidelines to lead the purple and gold.
Before the game, D’Antoni was asked about his nerves headed into the match, to which he responded, “Maybe in the fourth quarter, but not now. This is fun, this is great [I’m] looking forward to it.
The message of “having fun” is something that comes along with the D’Antoni system. Earlier in the week, Dwight Howard spoke of how having fun is something every team should do.
“We take everything serious, but at the same time we got to have fun while we’re doing it,” he said. “That just makes it better, we’re free on the court and we start winning like that.”
A lot more fun can be had while the team is winning, especially winning in the way D’Antoni wants to, by averaging 110-115 points per game.
The Lakers averaged 117 points in the last two games played against the Suns and the Rockets. Tuesday night, they would look to do the same as they got out to a fast start with a 10-0 run.
That would all change near the 4:30 mark in the first quarter thanks to the Lakers reverting to the bad defense that’s held them back much of this young season. Great ball movement and a heavy dose of Brook Lopez pulled the Nets within a point of the Lakers.
Brooklyn got its first lead of the game with 9:39 left in the half on a 12-footer by Joe Johnson.
Back-and-forth lead changes left the Lakers down 57-56 going in to halftime.
Other than an 11-1 run by the Nets in the fourth, the Lakers’ defense came up in a big way in the second half. The Lakers held Brooklyn to fewer points in the whole second half than they allowed in the second quarter.
A crazy play to keep the ball inbounds and a couple made free throws by Kobe Bryant got the Lakers their 95-90 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
It wasn’t in his “Showtime” reborn style, but new Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said he’ll gladly take this win.
“We weren’t clicking offensively, we didn’t play real well overall,” he said. “But good spots and especially to win against a team that’s hot -- they’ve won five in a row -- without playing well that means something.”
Against the Nets, the Lakers shot nearly 48 percent from the field and about 28.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Pau Gasol, who nearly had a triple-double (17 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists), said with the home stand out of the way and their new coach in place and actually coaching, they are ready to move forward.
“We have three road games starting tomorrow with Sacramento. Every team likes to beat the Lakers, we have to be ready for those games and see if we can get all of them.”
“Hack-A-Howard” was in full affect. Howard attempted 19 free throws, making only seven. For all those non-math majors out there that’s 37 percent. “One thing for me, no matter how many shots I miss at the line I’m going to continue to be aggressive on the offensive end,” he said. “I’m going to continue to crash the boards I’m going to continue to play hard. I’m not going to allow some free throws to keep me from playing the way I play.”
Bryant, who played 39 minutes, was 9-19 (1-4 from 3-pt range) racked up 25 points. He says playing the Nets was a good test. “They have a great deal of talent, significant depth. I think we did a great job of corralling them in the second half.”
Bryant also says with D’Antoni on the sideline, things just feel different. However, having played on an Olympic team with the coach, some things were very familiar, “he’s always very calm but still has kind of an undertone edge to him. He’s the same D’Antoni.”
After the Sacramento Kings, the Lakers go to Memphis on Friday to face the Grizzlies, then to Dallas on Saturday to take on the Mavericks. The Lakers return home Tuesday, Nov. 27 when they’ll match up with the Indiana Pacers.
You can follow JD Carrere on Twitter at @sportsnetjunkie.