Home > Uncategorized > Difficult Decisions for D’Antoni May Have Leveraged Lakers Into Defensive Mindset

Difficult Decisions for D’Antoni May Have Leveraged Lakers Into Defensive Mindset

The Los Angeles Lakers have had quite the unexpected rollercoaster ride to start this 2012-2013 season, haven’t they? And it may not be over quite yet; but… I like what Head Coach Mike D’Antoni has done to gain the respect of Lakers management and the players due to the painstaking efforts he has been thrust into engineering for the sake of re-tooling the lineup into a winning machine!

I was wrong to recently drop Mike’s “D” from his last name before the last game! Mike, you have it back – forever! It’s apparent, by Dwight’s facial expressions, that Howard is approaching each game with fewer smiles and a workmanlike attitude: it’s making a difference, defensively. But what we saw last night, in the “quality win” (?) over The Milwaukee Bucks was a Kobe makeover! I thought he was one of our old guys? I thought we had to get younger? That’s been the attitude of most fans who discount any one individual’s greatness. Kobe Bryant wasn’t the problem, but he has become a bigger piece of the solution to our defensive problems!

D’Antoni tried to utilize complimentary players to create a winning formula, but his greatest feat has been overcoming perception, overcoming enthusiasm, realizing that the truth matters and good play must prevail on both ends of the court: Jamison sat for many games after being heavily used when D’Antoni first arrived on the scene – he had a decent game last night, early. But “Super Sub of The Game”? No. Meeks was then auditioned for a long stretch of time, but his inconsistent offense, his poor decision-making to drive to the hoop and get constantly stopped, his mediocre defense recognized through the smokescreen of his enthusiasm to be out on the court… D’Antoni did the right thing: He turned to the greatness of his “Hall of Fame” players and said: If you want to win, I will need more from you. Final Score: Lakers 104, Bucks 88 (Recap).

It’s apparent that Kobe Bryant can turn up his game, and so can Dwight Howard: turnovers between them totaled a whopping ONE !!! They both scored 31 points for the night. But, most importantly, The Lakers stopped the dynamic duo of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings by a smothering defense that limited Ellis to 6/16 shooting and Jennings to ONE assist! It was a defensive effort by Kobe Bryant on Jennings and Earl Clark (?) – due to his height & length, speed & (well, not necessarily accuracy) on Ellis that then allowed D12 to be that stopper in the middle that was able to overcome MWP or Jamison sometimes overplaying their assignments.

Nash still had 3 turnovers, which seems to be due to his lack of spring off his fibula-fractured leg that must still be causing him pain that he is choosing to endure and play through for the good of the team. Apparently that is a medical decision that doesn’t prohibit a player from getting back on the court, unlike Gasol’s concussion from the nose injury sustained against The Denver Nuggets a few games back. He didn’t have a particularly good night, on either end of the court; but, an old, weakened Steve Nash is still better than a confused, timing-disrupted Jennings apparently. Advantage: injured old guys! smh

Bottom Line: The Los Angeles Lakers had a lead 26-11 that they let slip away, as The Milwaukee Bucks went on a 22-8 run that gave them a short-lived lead off a goaltending call on Dwight Howard. For The Lakers to finish the 1st Quarter only up 29-27 wasn’t how they will have to play, if they expect to have any hope of beating The Miami Heat at Staples Center on Thursday (tomorrow). The last winning streak of 5 games began off of wins against The Wizards, 76ers and Bobcats (barely) before gaining a quality win at The Golden State Warriors and then another on Christmas Day vs. The New York Knicks (when they palyed great!) to finish that streak before dipping back into mediocrity. The win against The Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday was not optional! The win vs. The Milwaukee Bucks could have been another “small ball” frustration game with Ellis & Jennings, but The Lakers did well to neutralize them; that’s where the game was going to be decided, because their front court is not top shelf. Larry Sanders? Samuel Dalembert? Nash drove into the paint, late, and dared Sanders to block his shot – but even with Steve’s slowness, he prevailed!

Against The Miami Heat, The Lakers will have to continue to play better in all facets of the game: LeBron James & Dwyane Wade will not be neutralized. It’s doubtful, at least. Instead, The Lakers will have to match greatness with greatness, and reserves will have to overcome adversity as the ball will have to bounce in our favor and foul trouble will have to be managed most effectively by whomever ends up coach of the winning team. The emergence of Earl Clark for this game couldn’t have been more timely. I am still crushed by the loss of my favorite Lakers player for the season: Jordan Hill. But now that we’re beyond the enthusiasm aspects of Jordan Hill and Jodie Meeks, the work ethic response to playing an  NBA level of professional grade basketball has been left to the strength of will that Dwight Howard & Kobe Bryant possess, if The Lakers are going to make a successful run to the playoffs.

Metta World Peace has played well throughout the season. Steve Nash has done all that can be expected of him, considering his circumstances. The Lakers are only 3 games out of the 8th Seed for the playoffs, since The Portland Trailblazers lost last night, with a lot of games left to be played! Our chances are good. I still say this team can go on a 31-8 run! They can cover home court, most nights. Will they win tomorrow night, against The Miami Heat? I hope so.

Go, Lakers!

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