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Lakers hold off Nets in D’Antoni’s head coaching debut

Nov 21, 2012, 1:57 AM EST

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni smiles with Pau Gasol of Spain and Kobe Bryant during their NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, as he makes his game coaching debut for the Lakers, in Los Angeles

Mike D’Antoni made his long-awaited debut as Lakers head coach on Tuesday, but the team’s previous win over the Rockets looked much more like his style. Nevertheless, the substance was there as L.A. overcame some mistakes to get a 95-90 win over the Nets that pushed the team over the .500 mark for the first time this season.

The first half of this one looked like what we might expect to see when the Lakers face quality teams while running this new system. There was plenty of trading baskets, and the Nets were able to get a lot of good looks as L.A. was slow in its defensive rotations, when they bothered to rotate at all. Brook Lopez was the main beneficiary of the New Jersey offense, getting 12 first-quarter points and ending up with 17 by halftime, scoring both inside and out.

Deron WIlliams did the damage for the Nets in the second quarter, straight up abusing Lakers guard Darius Morris for 10 points in less than six minutes. But after scoring 34 points in the second to take a one-point lead into the locker room at the half, the Nets managed just 33 points the rest of the way, thanks to a combined 5-of-21 shooting from Williams and Joe Johnson in the final two periods, and a dismal team shooting of under 33 percent.

As is going to be the case more often than not, while New Jersey struggled to manufacture offense, the Lakers had too much talent to ultimately be stifled. L.A. got huge games from Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and Metta World Peace — the four combined to go 29-of-54 from the field, good for 53.7 percent, and good enough to beat just about anyone.

There were some bumps along the way, however. The Lakers were outrebounded, and gave up 14 on the offensive end. The reserves are still giving way too much of the game away when the starters try to get some rest, and over the course of the season, heavy-minute efforts like this one where four of the five starters play 38 minutes or more (with Howard surpassing 40) are going to add up.

And of course, we have the free throw shooting. A horrific 19-of-37 night from the line, led by Howard going 7-of-19 (including an airball) is certainly cause for concern. Avery Johnson tried to exploit the problem further by intentionally fouling Howard sporadically in the fourth quarter, but didn’t fully commit and picked an extremely curious time to do so.

Brooklyn trailed 77-73 with 10:32 to play in the game. The Nets went on an 11-1 run to lead 84-78 with 5:22 to play, holding the Lakers without a field goal for over five minutes, the last two while L.A. had its starters back on the floor. That was when Johnson first called for the “Hack-a-Dwight,” and did it once more a few possessions later. Howard made one of two free throws each time, getting the Lakers a free point with no time having run off the clock, which is pretty important when a team is losing and there’s only a few minutes left to play.

Bryant took over for L.A. down the stretch, scoring his team’s last eight points — six of which came from the free throw line — in the game’s final two minutes to close this one out.

This was a good win for the Lakers, their first over a quality team on the young season, and their first while facing adversity under their new head coach. It wasn’t as aesthetically pleasing as their last outing, or as run-and-gun as it could be under D’Antoni once Steve Nash returns and the team has some time to get clicking under the new system. But wins are beautiful no matter how they come, and that’s especially true for a team as talented as this one that began the year with such a rocky start.

  1. 00maltliquor - Nov 21, 2012 at 2:15 AM

    Now THAT was a fun game!

    Did anyone else who watched the game see Ron/Metta “son” coach Avery Johnson after he made a 3!? Ahhhahahaha lmao!

    • qwertify - Nov 21, 2012 at 8:27 AM

      It may have been excusable if MWP did that to a fellow player with whom he is close to. But to do that to (1) a coach (2) of the opposing team (3) that you have never even played for, that is utmost disrespect. That should have been at least a technical, good thing refs weren’t looking. Kudos to Avery Johnson for staying classy and keeping his cool.

  2. manchestermiracle - Nov 21, 2012 at 2:16 AM

    The Lakers are getting there, bit by bit. A little more work on the defensive end, and maybe a trade for some bench help, and they’ll be just fine. Come the trade deadline there will be some decent players available. This is all about June, not trying to look invincible in November.

  3. magicbucs - Nov 21, 2012 at 2:48 AM

    That was a gift. Humphries never fouled Kobe on that jump shot. It was just a bad miss. Kobe just threw it up.
    The only way lakers won that game. It was 8 vs 5

    Lakers still aren’t going far in the playoffs. And yes I’m a HATER

    • Foul Dwimmerlaik - Nov 21, 2012 at 3:32 AM

      You’re not just a hater.

      You’re a SORE LOSER.

      So, how many championships has your team got?

      • BigBeachBall - Nov 21, 2012 at 4:51 AM

        “how many championships has your team got?”

        too easy…

  4. dannymac17 - Nov 21, 2012 at 3:25 AM

    i wish you would break down every win as if they were named the lakers.

  5. progress2011 - Nov 21, 2012 at 4:27 AM

    Now the fans in Brooklyn can be as angry, frustrated and perplexed as the fans in Atlanta were, when it comes to Joe Johnson !

    I call him ” Down Syndrome Joe ” (no disrespect to people that actually suffer from the condition).

    BUT Joe has ZERO emotion or passion. If he gets dunked on or hits a game winning 3, it doesn’t appear as if he cares either way.

    His inability to step up, in big games and display why he makes more than LBJ, Wade, Durant and others should make every Nets fan boycott !

  6. e39er - Nov 21, 2012 at 4:59 AM

    Nash could have easily score 5-10 points….point is we have an injured player while Nets were pretty healthy maybe Gerald Wallace isn’t 100% but at least he was to contribute, team is getting better by the minute

  7. abchome - Nov 21, 2012 at 5:49 AM

    The best win so far in this season.

  8. thelakeshow562 - Nov 21, 2012 at 7:14 AM

    HATERS ARE GOING TO HATE WE KNOW THIS THEY ALL HOPED THE LAKERS WOULD FLOP OUT WITH OUR ALL STAR STARTING LINE UP BUT HOW BOUT THEM APPLES (FAH)

  9. florida727 - Nov 21, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    Have to admit, I’ve been laughing my @$$ off at those who’ve commented on how the Lakers won’t make the playoffs, or the Lakers can’t win the championship, or whatever… because they lost 4 of their first 5 games… and no team has ever come back from THAT horrendous of a start! Holy crap, it’s an EIGHTY-TWO (82) game schedule! Then the highlighted note in the article teaser: the Lakers are over .500 for the first time! Wow! Shocker! What a joke. I’m no Lakers fan; I grew up in Chicago. But come on, man. Even if you’re a Laker Hater, which I’m not, did you really think they wouldn’t contend for the title?

    • davidly - Nov 21, 2012 at 8:05 AM

      Who knows? But the arguments for why they wouldn’t are just as valid as the ones that had them going to the finals before the season started.

      The key question is What does “contend” mean? If it means they’ll make the playoffs, then they got a pretty good chance.

      As far as the fickle reactions from the press/punditry and fans over the course of eighty-two games is concerned, it’s not like this is anything new. NBA journalism–and more recently bloggerdom–is unique in this regard. Not only is a team written off one month and crowned the next, but game to game. And, even the tone of your comment, florida727, contains an element of this, ie. now that the Lakers have won a couple of games, you portray it as somehow decisive that they are title contenders; yet there are seventy games before that contention even begins in ernst.

  10. loungefly74 - Nov 21, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    baby steps…baby steps…

  11. ccmgj - Nov 21, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    “As is going to be the case more often than not, while New Jersey struggled to manufacture offense, the Lakers had too much talent to ultimately be stifled.” Thought I read something about the Nets moving to Brooklyn …

  12. spectacular2k4 - Nov 21, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    Brook Lopez was the main beneficiary of the New Jersey offense? New Jersey? Lol

  13. drubeatz - Nov 21, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Brooklyn’s not quite the NBA elite. They do look better though. Deron needs to be a better distributor and stop looking to be a scorer all the time. They’re not gunna be a top tier team if they play that slow. Push the ball and pass the rock. Only Kobe/Lebron can jock and play isolation.

  14. omniusprime - Nov 21, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    I saw some of the first three quarters and the Lakers didn’t look sharp on defense for sure. An ugly win but any win is always a good one. Once Nash gets back into the rotation the team should be killer on offense, unfortunately when he’s in the rotation the Lakers will get killed on defense because he doesn’t play defense. Good to see Flake is still out so that Morriss and Duhon get some much needed experience on the floor. Go Lakers!!!

  15. unxpexted1 - Nov 21, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    It may not have been great defense throughout. But in the 4th quarter, specifically down the stretch, we got back to back big stops. Thats the key.

  16. lakerluver - Nov 21, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Getting better but Mitch might have tweak the bench. Jamison is missing wide open shots that he’s made his whole career! Either he or Meeks has to start making shots. The LAKERS are going to be outstanding with Nash running the show.

  17. unxpexted1 - Nov 21, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Overall, this was a good win for us. Brooklyn going to have a squad on them this year. They have a big starting five and depth. Big ups to Brooklyn in the East. Lakers didnt play a great game and pulled out the win. This offense is making our old legs look younger with all the ball movement. And I like that we get into our offense earlier, gives us more changes. If we can keep the D playing strong down the stretch, there can be some promise.

  18. spthegr8 - Nov 21, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    @Magicbucs
    You left out Delusional “TROLL”!!!!! But then again, the Magic SUCK S**T so bad, that PBT can’t post anything about their games. Beside’s how badly they have been getting BLOWNOUT!!!!! So you gta post something, somewhere. Unfortunately for us Laker fan’s, that leave’s you with NOTHING else too do but ” TROLL” on Laker post.!!! GO AWAY HATER!!!! GO AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Foul Dwimmerlaik - Nov 21, 2012 at 9:17 PM

      My sentiments exactly.

      The guy is bitter. He just had to vent out his frustrations on a team he wished his franchise had.

  19. qwertify - Nov 21, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    @00maltliquor

    It may have been excusable if MWP did that to a fellow player with whom he is close to. But to do that to (1) a coach (2) of the opposing team (3) that you have never played for, that is utmost disrespect. That should have at least been a technical, he’s lucky the refs weren’t looking. Kudos to Avery Johnson for staying classy and keeping his cool.

  20. paulhargis53 - Nov 21, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    But, but, but Meeks and Jamison were AWESOME pickups, right sausage wallet?

    Tweak the bench? With what? You have nothing of value to trade. A 32 year old with a bloated contract? An inconsistent 34 year old, whose best days,are behind him, that may thug out at any moment?
    Someone on that D league bench?

    There is nothing out there, shooter wise besides Pietrus. He isn’t any better than what you got.
    No, you are rolling with what you got this year, and what you got isn’t enough to win the West.
    Come on Squishmitten. Dazzle me with your next post. Each succeeding post is more inane than the last one.

  21. 00maltliquor - Nov 21, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    Meeks is still a great pick up. So is Jamison. Yes, they are both STINKING up the joint but AJ is on a 1 year/1.3 mil contract. Meeks is making only 1.4 with a TEAM option on his 2nd year, worth the same.

    That’s extremly low risk, high reward. We had no money to spend on nicer FA’s but to come up with those guys at vet min. wasn’t bad at all. No way they suck any worse, they’ll get better as the season rolls along. Our bench may be bad, but it’s not as bad as last year! Still good pick ups.

    • Foul Dwimmerlaik - Nov 21, 2012 at 9:22 PM

      We make do with what we have and live with it.

      Funny thing is, if the Lakers management would happen to spring up another bunny out of the hat and produce real quality bench players during the season, you’d likely hear from haters how the Lakers’ money did a lot of talking — or that Stern was behind such trades.

      Damn if you do, damn if you don’t.

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