Mike D’Antoni on Lakers’ loss to Magic: ‘We screwed up big-time’

Tomorrow’s notebook tonight …

The Lakers’ lack of offensive rhythm and defensive determination still troubled coach Mike D’Antoni one day after their loss to the Orlando Magic. He didn’t like their lack of energy or the way they seemed so overconfident upon taking the court.

“We screwed up last night big-time,” D’Antoni said rather bluntly after Monday’s practice and before leaving with the team on a three-game trip to face the Houston Rockets, the New Orleans Hornets and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“We have to have more of an urgency to our game that we have not demonstrated yet,” he added. “It’s odd, every time we play a team that’s lower than us in the division, like Orlando and Sacramento, we don’t have the same energy we have against a Dallas or a Denver.

“That’s something we’ve got to get over real quick. ”

It hasn’t taken D’Antoni long — only seven games, in fact — to recognize what everyone around the NBA has known for years about the Lakers.

“We’re not real fast as a team structurally,” he said. “That’s not going to change. I can’t come in here and make you faster. But if we play with the right amount of concentration and energy then we’re OK. We have to understand you can’t come out and play half speed. Our half speed is like quarter speed. So far, we’ve had trouble with young athletic teams.”

Effort can make up for a good many of the Lakers’ troubles, D’Antoni insisted.

“I didn’t get here because everything was going so great,” he said. “We realize where we are. We realize what problems we have structurally that we’re not going to solve, like being a little older, a little slower, a little of this and that. We can solve them by being better.

“We’re a better team talent-wise if we play better, if we bring the energy defensively and the mental toughness we need to have.”

Bryant plays no favorites

The chatter about changing systems after the Lakers changed coaches, made superstar guard Kobe Bryant chuckle.

“It’s not about excuses or what we’re used to doing versus what we’re doing now,” Bryant said. “You’ve just got to do it. No meetings. No sitting around the camp fire. None of that (expletive) is going to get it done. Just do your job. It’s as simple as that.

“We’ve got to show up and do our jobs. It’s not rocket science. It’s not solving world hunger. You’ve got to go out there and do your job. It’s as simple as that.”

Pressure’s on road warriors

Seven of the Lakers’ next eight games are on the road, which isn’t a bad thing as far as D’Antoni is concerned. Most teams in the NBA struggle to win away from home, but D’Antoni said upcoming three- and four-game trips could be a make or break stretch.

“You should be more involved when you’re on the road and we can concentrate on the things we need to do,” he said. “We have to take those seven out of eight games and really get better. Whether the record shows it or not, that’s one thing. By the end of our two trips, we’d better be a lot better team.”

Resting Gasol a possiblity

D’Antoni didn’t discount sitting struggling power forward Pau Gasol for a few games in order to give his achy knees a rest. Gasol looked a step slow during the Lakers’ loss Sunday to Orlando. He had only 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting plus seven rebounds.

Sacre rejoins Lakers

The Lakers recalled Robert Sacre, a 7-foot rookie center, from their developmental league team, the D-Fenders. He averaged 7.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 27 minutes over three games in the D-League.

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