The Los Angeles Lakers are 4-1 since Mike Brown’s firing, and that nearly spotless record only tells half the story. Anyone who has watched this team play since their initial 1-4 start will tell you that they look like a completely different group.
The offense is crisper. The defense, while still shaky, is at least being played with some enthusiasm. (At times.) The turnovers are down. Kobe Bryant is coming off a triple-double. Dwight Howard, despite still not being fully healthy, is beasting on the opposition. Any which way you want it to look at it, regardless of how you’re looking to measure the Lakers’ performances up to this point, there is no denying that they have looked much better over the last five games.
The obvious question now is: who deserves credit for this squad’s noticeable improvement? Is it the new head coach, Mike D’Antoni? Perhaps. It’s very possible that he has passed along some schemes, plans, and ideas that have been implemented – but it’s not all D’Antoni. And the reason we know it’s not all D’Antoni is because of one very simple thing: he hasn’t actually been courtside at the games.
That’s right, even though media outlets from all over have been heaping praise on him for the Lakers’ turnaround, D’Antoni has yet to actually take in a game from the Lakers bench. Because of his recent knee replacement surgery, the man who will purportedly bring Showtime back to L.A. hasn’t even made his big debut yet.
Is that debut going to come on Tuesday night against the Brooklyn Nets? That’s unknown at this point. He’s going to be a gametime decision.
“I’m anxious to get out there and ready to go, but I don’t want to be a sideshow,” D’Antoni said (via the Washington Post).
Apparently those around D’Antoni aren’t giving him much of a confidence boost.
“My wife said, ‘Why are you doing this?’” D’Antoni said. “And I kept being headstrong. (Vitti) kind of sat me down and said, ‘Mike, this is crazy. Somebody comes over, you’re going to be bowled over. You’re a sitting duck.’
“And I know my coaches aren’t real nimble, so there’s no way they’re protecting me. They’re hitting the streets. It was the smart thing to do.”
So what’s the final call on the Brooklyn game?
“I’m going to try. We’ll see,” said D’Antoni (via the New York Daily News). “I don’t want to say yeah and not do it again. So we’ll just see.”
Yup, we’ll see. The game tips off at 4:30 p.m.