Bad Timing For D’Antoni’s Return To MSG

 

NEW YORK – The timing couldn’t be worse for Mike D’Antoni, who makes his return to Madison Square Garden Thursday night, as the Lakers face the Knicks on TNT (8 p.m. ET).

Let us count the ways:

  • The Lakers are now 4-8 under D’Antoni, having lost five of their last six games. And they hit a new low with a loss to the 5-18 Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.
  • The Knicks lead the Eastern Conference at 16-5 and are now 34-11 under D’Antoni’s replacement, Mike Woodson, who’s the early-season favorite for the Coach of the Year award.
  • D’Antoni seemingly couldn’t find a way for his offense to work for Carmelo Anthony, who is now having the best offensive season of his career. In fact, Anthony may have been the first-quarter MVP.
  • Led by Anthony, the Knicks are playing ridiculously efficient offense, scoring 110 points per 100 possessions, which ranks second in the league. D’Antoni is supposed to be the offensive genius, but New York is the most improved offensive team in the league in its first full season under Woodson.
  • Meanwhile, the Lakers have allowed an atrocious 109 points per 100 possessions over the last six games, a mark that would rank last in the league.
  • One of the Lakers’ biggest problems defensively is the lack of weak-side help on pick-and-rolls, and the Knicks’ Tyson Chandler is one of the best roll men in the league.
  • Steve Nash still isn’t close to returning and resurrecting the Lakers’ offense, which had one of its worst games of the season in Cleveland on Tuesday. Neither is Steve Blake.
  • The Knicks are 8-0 at home this season and 19-1 at MSG under Woodson. The Lakers, meanwhile, are 2-7 on the road.

As if all the above isn’t bad enough for D’Antoni, Howard Beck of the New York Times paints an even more depressing picture as the Lakers stumble into New York:

D’Antoni went to Los Angeles in search of the talent he never truly had in New York and to reunite with the point guard he so badly missed. The promise of 70 degrees and sunny didn’t hurt either.

Paradise never looked so stressful.

The stars D’Antoni was promised are injured (Steve Nash), old (Kobe Bryant) or injured and old (Pau Gasol). Dwight Howard is not entirely Dwight Howard after back surgery. The Lakers are wheezing. Magic Johnson is sniping. The fans are cranky.

So is D’Antoni, who snapped at a Los Angeles Times columnist Tuesday night, after the Lakers (9-13) lost to in Cleveland, their third straight defeat.

There are fault lines in California with less pressure on them.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com focuses on Kobe Bryant, who will surely want to play big on Broadway to help his team get back on track:

It sounds simple. Too simple for a team this talented. Sure, Steve Nash is still out for God knows how much longer and Pau Gasol’s knees are aching as badly as his spirit must feel after the most ineffective stretch of his career. But between Bryant and Dwight Howard, the Lakers still should have more than enough talent to get through this stretch with their heads above water.

Instead they’re drowning, trying to plug their fingers into new holes every game even as the water leaking from the old ones flows faster and more destructively. It’s baffling.

If there were answers out there, they would’ve found them already. Between Bryant, Gasol, Nash, Howard and head coach Mike D’Antoni, there’s too much experience, wisdom and basketball IQ in that locker room for the whiteboard to be so clean.

It’s not speed or athleticism either, although a little more of both would make things easier.

No, this has gone so badly, so quickly, it’s not so much answers that the Lakers are looking for anymore. It’s a belief. That this can still work. That they’re not all crazy. That they’re not all flawed.

“Togetherness,” Bryant said. “Finding a way to play that maximizes each other’s talents. I believe we have the intelligence to do it. Mike is very, very smart. Steve obviously has a high basketball IQ. Myself, Gasol, we’ve all been there before. We know how to conduct this thing. It’s just a matter of figuring that out.”

It seems near impossible, but if the Lakers can somehow figure it out on Thursday, it could be a season-altering night for D’Antoni and crew. Maybe a game against his former team, a game that D’Antoni must want more than any other, is exactly what the Lakers need to come together and play as a unit.

Maybe.

46 Comments

  1. bajoy says:

    mike d antoni needs a good point guard in order to flow his system. just wait for steve nash.

  2. Unkle Daddy says:

    Let’s get one thing straight D’Antoni is no offensive genius, people need to stop throughing that around, as truth. He was successful because of a real offensive genius named Nash. Look at the careers of all the people who played with Nash the only one who has stayed the same or gotten better is Dirk, end of story…

  3. Nonya says:

    We gonna win this 1.. Lakers r gonna get back up and this is gonna be the start. Wait and see!!

  4. TTKIN says:

    70 degrees and sunny? Man it’s raining today hahaha. Man I love SoCal, it’s the middle of December and it has rained like 4 times in the last month. 70 and sunny every other day tho!

    Not in laker land of course. Right now in Lakerland, it’s 150 degrees, the sky is red and theres a giant dude with a pitchfork, weird mustache and horns on his head (in other words, if youre a laker fan, basketball is hell right now). Thank you Lakers for trying to destroy a sport we all love!

  5. Willy says:

    Hammer the coach! Big time players are big time cry babies. Like Kobe says step up put on your big boy pants! Coach too! You gotta believe in each other to win as a team and I don’t think they do? Kobe will be tired tonight chasing Meloman.

  6. gatez says:

    Beating the Knicks at home where they are undefeated is gonna be a very difficult task. Lakers need more out of Dwight and their point guards.

  7. newyorksteelo says:

    Not a chance with the way Melo and the Knicks are playing.

  8. PdaDunker says:

    Surgery on the D….O is easy with lowpost-highpost play. A child could do it. “yeah, we did defense”. Right. Nobody’s seen it, though. Kobe’s been there allright, as have others.

  9. fstaff says:

    This is crazy stuff. Look at the salary they’re paying for pretty much no return. I too would’ve liked to see Phil back.

  10. v1ra says:

    D’Antoni is a one-trick pony. He will never have the situation he had in Phoenix again–perfect point guard for his “system” in Nash; the young, athletically prime, one-dimensional Stoudemire; and a the freakishly athletic Marion, who struggles in a traditional set, but excels in fastball, all combining to contribute to a relatively new style of play that the rest of the league wasn’t accustomed to defending (though Nelson had done something similar before with smallball in Dallas). The league caught on and caught up, and the talent aged, deteriorated, and dissipated.

    Firing Mike Brown (who unlike D’Antoni has actually COACHED a team to an NBA Finals) while allowing D’Anotni to continue to let this this team collapse into the dtich has a whiff of racism Buss-style. A Black coach can’t fail for a five games, but a White coach can fail all season. D’Antoni doesn’t belong in the NBA. Maybe the WNBA, or the D-league, or some Euroleague. Maybe the same goes for Jim Buss.

  11. Sam says:

    why would you hire d’antoni? he showed really well what he was capable in ny!!
    times change, systems change and you have to change… dantoni was good with suns because that was the era of run and gun… now its all bout controling the pace from the the tip off and being able to swithc on and off at any given time…the lakers are plaing catch up from the tip…no one fears them anymore…FIRE D’ANTONI AND I KNOW YOU MESSED UP WITH JACKSON SO THEREFORE BRING IN SHAW AND LET HIM GOTO WORK….WTF ARE WE WAITING FOR?

  12. zgillet says:

    The Knicks are going to crush them, and Kobe will score over 50.

  13. Richie says:

    Someone needs to say it, “the team is not going to win with Kobe shooting the ball as much as he does”. Keep the game close and then takeover in the 4th.

  14. cpcheung says:

    If Jeremy Lin and Rockets could blow out Knicks with landslie scores last time, D’Antoni and Lakers will certainly do the same with Knicks tonight!

  15. the thrill says:

    I think its the first time in years I see no system in the Lakers play. Will is the other problem.
    Lakers management should start doing damage control and think of bringin Jackson in or getting Jerry Sloan out of retirement as morale is just getting lower with every game. Obviously if you make big spends/risks in getting Nash and Howard you expect more tickets sold and growing fanbase (not even mentioning title shot). Well, this is not happening to say the least. Unfortunately D’Antoni is the problem. When someone clams to be an offensive coach, for me is not a coach at all! Not in this day and age. You come up with a system based on the players you have. For Lakers players to play Mike D’s “system” is like making Rodman to shoot 3′s in 98′ Chicago team. You dont have athletic, quick guards and big men to accomodate them to a fast pace run and gun scheme. You have, however, great defensive players in Howard, World Peace and Bryant.
    Whoever thinks that Mike D will do what he has “done” in Phoenix is wrong. Simple example to make you think of something: Phoenix had young Steve Nash and freakishly quick Amare, exactly as New Jersey in 2002 had young Jason Kidd. Kidd, Nash or Magic were floor generals, you could easily let them handle the offence.
    Under Mike D Lakers are not utilising their major advantages: Pau Gasol – smart and talented PF, if played the right way he is unstoppable, Howard – pick and rolls, defensive hardness are his specialty, why not used… I can go on and on.
    Mike D is waiting for Nash to come and save him… well it is not gonna happen.
    If you are not smart enough to take Howard off when he is being fouled constantly in the 4th than you are delusional. Also, how can you sit Gasol out for whole 4 quaters in close games?

    As for the morale, look what is happening: Kobe is frustrated and starts to take over as he does not trust his team mates, he will be soon making 50 shots a game if it continues this way. Howard is out of shape and does not want to improve full stop.

    Bottom line is, look at Knicks/Nets game… from Tuesday.. This is what hunger to win a game looks like. You do not give up, even when down by 16.
    I smiled when I saw D’Antoni in a post game interview the other night. He said something in the lines of: We seem to start to play well when we are down on points, we should be fighting from beginning to the end, not only when we are behind.

    Well coach Mike, you are behind because of your “system” in the first place.

    nuff said

  16. cpcheung says:

    If Jeremy Lin and Rockets can blow out Knicks, D’Antoni and Lakers can do it too.

  17. HOSEA says:

    DWIGHT ISN’T GIVING OUT ALL HIS BEST THAT I KNOW, AND I DON’T SEE THAT MUCH PLAYS IN THE GAME. MIKE OR PHIL IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PLAYERS PLAY AS A TEAM AND TRUST EACH OTHER. I STILL BELIEVE LAKERS WILL PULL THIS 1 OUT IF THEY PLAY THEY’RE BEST “AS A TEAM”.

  18. HOSEA says:

    THE GUYS JUST NEEDS TO TRUST EACH OTHER KOBE ND DWIGHT CAN LEAD THE TEAM VERY FAR.

  19. Nick says:

    Lakers gonna win tonight!!! get ready for the biggest game of the year!!!!

  20. Big Daddy R says:

    the Traingle offense could work with such Laker line-up even if Pao and DH are on the floor the same time. i agree with Beast, they should have hired Phil J. instead…

  21. kobe says:

    d’antoni doesnt know how to handle player , he didnt handle carmelo well when hes in Knicks now its pau gasol, they should hire phil .

  22. andy says:

    this coach as i said before will not fit the Lakers at all , the team will fall apart if this coach will stay for along time his ,game plan is totally different than kobe and the orginazation. right now you have one choice fire kobe or brnig back phill

  23. One game says:

    btw..after what the Lakers did to Phil, Phil will never coach for the Lakers again. So move on with the idea and stop talking about Phil. The Lakers gotta be aggressive, meaning moving on their feet. It doesn’t mean they have to be fast. They just can’t stand still and let their opponent help each other to defend. They gotta get their opponent attention, even when they dont have the ball, draw the opponent away from the player with the ball so that he has more room to operate. Make your opponent pay you respect, pay you the attention that you deserve. If you’re standing around you’re just giving up the offense..The Knicks have great shooters, so don’t fall for the block and go for the penetrator. Everybody guard their man

  24. JohnC says:

    Picking up Dwight as Bryant’s replacement as the franchise player may have sold thousands of t-shirts, but there is a world between them. Besides, a bunch of super-stars won’t win anything: LA needs chemistry + share a common goal. There is no future for a team with no recognition of your teammates’ abilities: only, they won’t play up to their potential. There is no hope for a team with permanent trade rumors, they won’t play confidently and it really won’t build up the chemistry. The very few results came with the small freedom they had to be themselves for a couple of games. D’Antoni’s impact is too poor so far: and still, he points to the injured Gasol as responsible of… What?? Lack of chemistry? Dwight’s missing shots from the free throw line? Poor defensive system? The old, predictable ‘ball to Bryant or Howard’ offensive plan?

  25. ImJusSayin says:

    Bernie let them play a free flowing Offense which is what D’antoni is doing but he is pushing tempo beyond the players comfort zone and it is affecting their communication on D. I think Mike D should take some notes from the best coach the Lakers have had this year (Not either Mike).

  26. RR says:

    The Triangle offense is the best offense…but we have to wait when Steve Nash comes back from lets see if there will be any improvement on thier pick and rolls.

  27. indy says:

    I am also a Laker fan, and it is not only a question of offensive game. When the shots don’t get in, you need some defensive play too. And what about the bench? Apart from Jamison they are all losers, no ambition

  28. One game says:

    so instead of accepting the fact that the Lakers can’t play fast-pace “7 or less second” against younger teams and that Mike D is not the right coach for the Lakers, we all gonna sit tight and wait for Steve Nash return? What if Nash get injured again? he is 38, what’s the chance of that happens again? probably never, Nash plays through all injuries. Nash will fix everything. We just forget about the other 3 mega stars and rely on one oldest mega star to come back and fix everything..

  29. Hagop says:

    Bickerstaff is way better than D’Antoni, as long as Phil is out of the picture. It’s not about perspective here, it’s about winning. Look at the logical side of things Lakers!

  30. Tom says:

    Am a laker fan but tonight theres not a chance against the knicks hope it will be a close game not a blown up

  31. Nate says:

    Do you think that Howard will re-sign with the Lakers next year if the Lakers go to the lottery?

    • TTKIN says:

      I’ll say yes just cuz where else is he going to go? He only wants to play for a contender, and that leaves almsot no one. Lakers can offer the 25 extra mill no one else can also. There are other places that can afford him, but none of them are true contenders.

      But if this wasnt basketball and any team could offer any contract like it should be, then I’d say hell no he wouldnt stay.

  32. Shady says:

    Unless D’Antoni gives his players a speech like Al Pacino’s speech in Any given sunday and the play some Defense they are dropping the game at MSG.

  33. jose machado says:

    BAD TIME really LOL, can´t wait for the gsme tonight, but i would like to see nash an gasol healthy, cause to compete with this knick team, u need to be at your best, D´Antoni knows it!

  34. prism says:

    Phil Jackson!

  35. Gentledee says:

    fire D’Antoni period…

  36. DT says:

    Where did D’Antoni get the courage to say YES when Jim Bust offered him the head coach job.
    He should of know that’s too big of a challenge for him.
    And only Phil can fit the spot.

  37. The_Pharmacist says:

    Can we trade D’Antoni for Rick Adelman or Gregg Popovich or George Karl???????
    i feel lakers 2night will have great game against Knicks, though

  38. The_Pharmacist says:

    Can we trade D’Antoni for Rick Adelman or Gregg Popovich or George Karl???????
    i feel lakers 2night will have great game against Knicks, though :)

    • TTKIN says:

      Hey pharmacist, quit taking ur own drugs hahaha. but seriously I like the confidence u have in our boys but let’s be real, we screwed haha.

  39. smh.. says:

    The lakers should’ve given Phil Jackson the moon…

  40. Jones17 says:

    No chance Lakers pull this 1 out tonight. I have money on Knicks by more than 7 points and i’m an optimistic Lakers fan.

    • TTKIN says:

      (LIKE).

      Im a Laker fan too, but dam, if Jeremy Lin can destroy them virtually on his own, there’s no telling what a current title contender will do to them.

  41. Beast says:

    Should have hired Phil…Nuff said