With the Lakers showing little sign that they’ll climb out of the Western Conference cellar, coach Mike D’Antoni conceded what many Lakers fans have thought about him in recent weeks.
“We’re not where we need to be,” D’Antoni said. “I’m the coach. I’m not doing what I need to do. But it’s not a lack of effort from anybody. We’re trying. We’re trying to solve it.”
As the Lakers (17-25) head into tonight’s game against the Utah Jazz (23-19) at Staples Center, it remains unclear how they will snap a three-game losing streak. As hard as it was to see, D’Antoni believed the Lakers made strides in effort and on defense in the team’s 106-93 loss Wednesday to the Memphis Grizzlies. With DWight Howard playing tonight after an exam showed he has no further damage in his right shoulder, D’Antoni professes optimism the momentum will carry over.
“Starting on the defensive end and having everybody committed, I think we’re there,” D’Antoni said. “It started against Memphis that way. Not a great game to get it all together and we lost Dwight. We’re digging step by step. Sometime we have to make a stand.”
Still, D’Antoni suggested after the Memphis lost that the Lakers didn’t have enough speed to keep up no matter how hard they tried. It sounds ridiculous to ask considering the Lakers boast four future Hall of Famers in Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Howard and Pau Gasol. But does D’Antoni believe he has the pieces needed to turn things around and make the playoffs?
“Yeah, I do,” he said. “That’s the sad part. I think we do have enough.”
Nonetheless, D’Antoni has gone 12-22 since coaching the Lakers. He conceded he hasn’t mastered convincing everyone to embrace their roles.
“It’s a challenge,” D’Antoni said. “There’s no doubt about it trying to get everybody on the same page. Nothing works if all 5, 10 buy in. Once they’re comfortable and buying in and having a time start sitting, there’s challenges.”
That’s because D’Antoni’s system calls for more perimeter shooters and faster speed on a team that boasts two seven-footers and a veteran-laden roster. Can his players thrive under his system?
“Yeah, unless you can’t play. I don’t know if it would help your game or not,” D’Antoni said, referring to the media. “But there’s no doubt it won’t help if we don’t do it.”
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