D’Antoni To Make Lakers Debut Tonight

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Los Angeles Lakers fans won’t have to wait any longer to see their new head coach, crutches and all, working the sidelines. Mike D’Antoni will indeed make his debut on the job tonight when the Lakers host the Brooklyn Nets (10:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV).

There were conflicting stories Monday regarding his status. But Lakers spokesman John Black confirmed to USA Today‘s Rachel Shuster this afternoon that D’Antoni, who is rehabbing from knee replacement surgery, will be on the bench tonight, with the blessing of the team’s longtime athletic trainer Gary Vitti:

“Mike told me he won’t let Gary talk him out of it tonight,” Black told Shuster.

D’Antoni’s been on the job, technically speaking, for nearly two weeks. Mike Brown was fired after a 1-4 start and D’Antoni was tabbed as his replacement two days later, getting the nod over Phil Jackson.

But Bernie Bickerstaff has been in the big chair on the sideline in the meantime, piling up a 4-1 record on his watch as the Lakers have clawed their way back to .500 in the interim. Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard and the crew have played just fine during that span, losing only to the San Antonio Spurs on a Danny Green buzzer-beater on Nov. 14.

But the Lakers have been working within D’Antoni’s system since he took over and the improved results are evident. It’s a change that hasn’t been lost on some of the more vocal critics of the hire, as Shuster pointed out, guys like Lakers legend Magic Johnson, who favored a Jackson return to the Lakers over going in a new direction with D’Antoni:

“I must admit the @Lakers are more fun to watch under coach D’Antoni’s system,” Johnson tweeted, comparing the team’s energy now vs. early in the season under Brown. “Coach D’Antoni has the @Lakers playing a more uptempo offense with great ball movement.”

D’Antoni is returning just in time for a rugged road stretch that will see the Lakers play in Sacramento (Wednesday) and in Memphis (Friday) and Dallas (Saturday) before returning home for a three-game home stand next week.

But you better believe all eyes will be on the Staples Center tonight for D’Antoni’s debut!

14 Comments

  1. Popoy Di Maunat says:

    the lakers can win @ home w/ a big help on the officials… Can they do that on the road??? They loss again on the road as usual… losing to SAC….are the lakers contending team???? NO!!!!! STill OKC in the WEST…. and STILL MIA out in the EAST…….. Sorry but that’s the TRUTH…. the BOBCATS are way better team than your lakers right now…. Who they got???? NO ONE…. But BOBCATS 6-4 with 1 win on the road is better than lakers 6-6….. 6 wins at home….

  2. 16going417 says:

    Yes, dattebayo and W/E, the both of you are sooooo right. That is why Kobe had 3 fouls called on him before the half and Dwight had 5 fouls called against him in the game. The only questionable non call was when Howard blocked a shot that should have been called goal tending. Also the Lakers missed a ton of free throws. The Nets had their chance and could not capitalize. So, don’t try to blame their loss on officiating and put the blame where it belongs….. The Nets inability to score and defend at the end of the game.

  3. MANILA BOY PHILIPPINES says:

    ITSSS MORE FUN AT NEVERLAND

  4. MANILA BOY PHILIPPINES says:

    @KB24 I TOTALLY AGREED!! NUMBER 1 FOR MORE LOSSES

  5. KB24 says:

    The Lakers will be playing a lot better now that D’Antoni has taken over, which he will obviously be a lot better than mike brown.. Lakers are slowly moving up to being number 1!

  6. dattebayo says:

    Even though I am not a fan of flopping and would like to see it gone, I think Reggie Evans should have flopped 2 more times in this game just to even the score a little. Howard goaltended once, had 2 questionable continuations, Kobe blatantly traveled twice and they didn’t call it (that’s a POE this season) and of course the Lakers got most of the out of bounds and foul-calls. Going down the stretch they called every little contact for the Lakers while Humphries and Lopez couldn’t get one whistle fighting around the basket the entire game. This is one of those games that makes me paranoid wandering whether the games are called unbiased and fair or not.

    • W/E says:

      i agree on everything, the lakers had clearly been helped by the officials especially in the 4rth quarter, a whistle on every play in favor for the lakers nothing for the nets even though their frontcourt was getting alot of contact.

  7. sekou you are the most biased writer on this site. If you didnt work for nba.com you would probably be in the comments talking about how lebron is better than kobe

  8. kutz says:

    los angeles lakers is a work in progress with coach d’ antoni.. lets see how far they could go this season.. i would not compare them to the other teams right now. but their winning tradition sets them apart with the other nba teams.. still long way to the finals where it matters most. people will keep on commenting & criticizing until who will win it all this season and im looking forward that 16 times nba world champions los angeles lakers will WIN IT ALL THIS SEASON!!! lets go lakers…

  9. Neo says:

    No hate articles for the Lakers this time, Sekou? Wow, you’ve changed all of a sudden. All you writers do swing sides every now and then, because you guys don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re not fans, you’re not the ones cheering for a team. All you do is look for loopholes on the teams and players you hate and praise those teams and players who paid you, I mean, players you like. I wish you guys can set your biases aside and write good articles, like David Aldridge. But realistically, I don’t you can.

  10. Rene says:

    @newyorksteelo You’re right, if the Laker’s bench could actually produce and if D’Antoni enforces defense the Lakers will be a tough team to beat. But reality is, the Laker’s bench is terrible, and D’Antoni was never known to be a defensive first coach.

    Best Laker bench player is Jamison and Meeks, and they’re just terrible right now. I expect D’Antoni will utilize Jamison with Meeks as three point shooters while doing pick and rolls with Nash and Howard while Kobe/Gasol’s on the bench, and they will be a lot more effective this way compared to the Princeton offense (was never a fan of this system). But let’s face it, Jamison is on the decline at age 36, and Meeks was an average player at best. Lakers simply do not have the depth to match any of the current contenders off the bench. Clipper has Jamal Crawford (going after that 6th man of the year), Eric Bledsoe, Matt Barnes, not to mention the injured Grant Hill and Billups coming off the bench. Miami has Ray Allen, Lewis, Miller + other deadly shooters coming off the bench. OKC has Kevin Martin and Eric Maynor and etc.

    Don’t see how Lakers go past the OKC Thunder let alone win it all.

  11. Lakerss!! says:

    @MMMM you bandwagon.. just because their killing a good team doesnt mean they will kill them in the playoffs..their a good team but not making it in the 2 or 3 round.. just saying im a Laker fann just to tell u…

  12. newyorksteelo says:

    @ MMMM – I doubt that. If Mike D’ Antoni can develop the bench to become better shooters, and if he actually enforces defense, the Lakers will be a tough team to beat in the playoffs.

  13. MMMM says:

    It doesn’t matter, Grizzlies or Clippers will kill’ em all in the playoffs.