Bernie Bickerstaff keeps the seat warm for Mike D’Antoni

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With the recent firing of Mike Brown and hiring former Phoenix and New York coach, Mike “7 seconds or less of offense” D’Antoni, a great video caught my eye on one of my favorite Laker sites out there, lakerstopbuzz.com. If you’re a Laker fan, you have to check it out. It’s an excellent site with very knowledgeable individuals representing the purple and gold, some before I was even born.

Anyways, the video I ran across discusses why Mike Brown was fired. The footage was compiled by a basketball coach who picks apart why a defensive minded coach failed to improve that aspect of the team, particularly around the glaring deficiencies of Steve Blake and Pau Gasol. God, why did we ever sign Eminem 2.0 in the first place?

Of course, the primary concern is the fact that D’Antoni employs a run and gun system with defense as more of an afterthought. There has been a wide range of input, with critics and naysayers quick to write him off while others feel he at least deserves a chance. Hey, at least there’s no way he could be worse than Brown right?

The issue that bothers me and the Laker faithful I’m sure is the fact that Phil Jackson was apparently stubbed. Varying reports have been documented, with some claiming that Phil was screwed over by the Lakers while others claimed that he demanded too much money and privileges. On a lighter note, seeing Kobe on the top of the Player Rater for ESPN NBA Fantasy brought a sorely needed smile to my face. It’s great to see the Mamba turn back the time and continue to defy Father Time with his array of fakes and fadeaways. The dude’s shooting lights out so far and surprising everyone with his performance, much like Tim Duncan who is experiencing a similar renaissance in his career.

Anyways, here’s my take on the Lakers victory over the Kings, followed up by the heartbreaking loss to the Spurs. Darius Morris has been the recipient of additional minutes with Nash and Blake. He is capable of hitting the 3 and although he gets out of control at times as expected from a budding player, he does have the ability to cut in, attack the rim, as well as find the open man. During the San Antonio game, he tried too hard to finish plays on his own. One moment that comes to mind is when he ignited a fast break and tried to finish over the defender rather than passing to one of his streaking mates. As he barely played last season, this is technically his first season and there will be some flinch inducing moments but I see some potential here. I wouldn’t mind if he replaced Blake, at least Morris has potential.

Jordan Hill continues to impress with his tenacity under the board, as he scored on two consecutive second opportunity chances with his hustle. Antawn Jamison displayed a bit more of his bizarre post play, but I suppose if it’s not broke don’t fix it. It looks broken but since it seems to work, I guess we’ll just roll with it. His jump shot needs some serious work, as he is shooting an absolutely pathetic .200 from behind the arc, not to mention a .370 fg%. As Stu Lantz often says, that’s just not going to get the job done. I expect more out of the onetime Sixth Man of the Year, and hopefully D’Antoni can harness whatever the 36 year old vet has left in the tank.

As mentioned in the video link posted in the top of this entry, Pau Gasol is off to quite a lukewarm start. His defense is nonexistent, and his aggression comes and goes. Most of the time, he’s as passive as a rock and is often seen roaming the perimeter.

I’ve never personally been a huge Ron Ar…I mean Metta World Peace fan. His shot selection is absolutely horrendous to say the least. If he possessed the defensive skills that earned him a Defensive Player of the Year, I could overlook his offensive deficiencies. However, his D is nowhere near those levels anymore. Add in to the equation a .313 3 point FG% and that should paint the picture. It’s one thing to have your feet set, square up, and hit the jumper. Taking one dribble to the right and launching a fadeaway three is a completely different affair. Kobe just makes it look easy when it’s actually incredibly difficult as any b-ball player can attest to.

Damn that San Antonio game. Our bench was putrid as always, and I’m personally extremely disappointed with Jodie Meeks. I knew Duhon was just bench fodder for the most part, but I expected more out of Meeks who is supposed to be our sharpshooter. His ball handling abilities are not up to par, as he committed several consecutive turnovers to the point where I almost threw my beer at the TV. Almost. Apparently, the coach felt the same way as recent reports say that he is no longer the main backup, losing the spot to Ebanks. I’m equally unenthused about him unfortunately. Morris was equally disappointing, forcing the issue and taking some bad shots instead of passing it to a teammate for a higher percentage look.

Losing on a Danny Green 3 pointer was quite painful. Even more frustrating was the fact that the last two shots were 3 pointers from Ron Artest and Pau Gasol, two players who have no business having the ball in that particular spot and situation. The Spurs did a good job of preventing Kobe from getting a touch, as one would expect from the brilliant mind of Coach “Pops.”

Here is a rundown of the total field goal attempts and makes from the Lakers starters.  Peace 4/14, Gasol 3/10, Howard 5/9, Bryant 12/19, and Morris 0/5. I find it maddening to see Peace taking more shots than Gasol and Howard, two of the premier big men in the league. It reminded me of the days when the Lakers used to ignore Bynum and go for contested perimeter jumpers or drives. Like Shaq said, “If the dog isn’t fed, he won’t guard the house.” I don’t remember the exact quote, but there is some semblance of truth behind that quote. You always feed your big man, especially one as talented as Dwight Howard. But please people, stop comparing him to Shaq. I respect Howard’s skill set, but the two are worlds apart in overall talent.

Two major concerns are becoming a painfully common trend in the games so far. Dwight Howard gets stripped way too easily for a guy of his size and strength, while Kobe Bryant has been uncharacteristically throwing up some errant passes as of late. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that having the extra ball handling and playmaking responsibilities rearing its ugly head which is leading to the turnovers. Dwight appears to be getting into form, but he needs to learn how to avoid getting stripped so often. Once Nash gets back and the D’Antoni reign commences, it’ll be interesting to see how the new coach can accomplish with this struggling squad.

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