SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Mike D’Antoni jammed several good riffs into one seven-minute post-game media gaggle Wednesday night, breaking out the full repertoire by referencing the Muppets and Showtime and the low point of the last 10 years in a venting critique of his Lakers. And sap. Can’t forget the sap.
But there was the same bottom line that couldn’t be zinged away.
This is going to take some time for the Lakers.
It was always going to take some time. It was so when Mike Brown was the coach and the bad losses immediately rolled in, nothing changed when Brown was fired and hope returned with better play under interim Bernie Bickerstaff, and now that truth so hard for some to accept has been underlined once again with a 113-97 loss to a 3-8 Kings team that played with more energy and greater precision.
The Lakers went from beating the Nets the night before to scoring 41 points in the first half, committing 20 turnovers in all, and generally appearing lethargic in the second game with D’Antoni on the sideline. This will somehow turn into Brown’s fault, but meanwhile, L.A. has the same problems as ever and another adjustment period when everyone tried to blame the woes on the offense of the previous coach.
Steve Nash is still out, Steve Blake is still out, a bench that was thin to begin with is even more tapped out, and now the Lakers can’t even get through the first week with D’Antoni before the effort level drops way off.
“I think you always have a little bit of a shock when the guy comes in new,” he said. “You start off all like puppies out there. Now, back to reality a little bit. We’ve got some things we’ve got to work through. We got some issues and we’ve got to get better.”
He wasn’t done.
“The first half might have been the worst basketball I’ve seen in 10 years,” D’Antoni said. “We just didn’t play well. Mostly because of the energy level. We’re not running the floor. Nothing. A little bit of defense early, and then that caved in toward the end. We’ve just got to somehow collectively find some energy.”
“The ball didn’t move. We didn’t hit. Everybody wasn’t sharp. It was like wrestling in mud. It was like, ‘My God.’ I’m serious, the first half I was in shock. We can’t do that. That’s not how we’re going to play. If we’re going to play Showtime, my God, they (the Kings) just closed the whole theater on us. Are you kidding? Showtime? We want to get close to that. That was Muppet time or something. I don’t know what it was.”
D’Antoni illustrated the night in detail – “It was like watching sap out of a tree. You can’t do that. That’s energy. We’ve got to go.” – and he had every reason to be displeased with the loss. But it was a good reality check for anyone who thought Brown was the sole cause of the bad start. The Lakers have dealt with injuries and a lot of new personnel adjustments, and this was always going to take time. That was the case at 1-4 just as it was the case after winning three in a row to climb above .500 just as it was the case late Wednesday night after being rolled by an outmanned opponent.
The Lakers have a long way to go. In the optimistic counterbalance, they also have a lot of time. It’s November. This was always going to take time, even if no one figured they’d be sharing it with the Muppets.