PHOENIX — Mike D’Antoni didn’t exactly show a jovial Christmas spirit following the Lakers’ 117-90 loss Monday to the Phoenix Suns at U.S. Airways Center.
But he cried Bah Humbug to any Laker fans who are concerned about the team, ranging from its second consecutive loss, the Lakers’ 13-15 record, the never-ending injuries, the non-existent defense and a competitive Western Conference.
“Why would I be discouraged? We’re fighting with a bunch of good guys that played well and will play well again,” D’Antoni said. “If they’re discouraged, go find another team to root for. I’m alright. We’re not going to give up. Are you kidding me? Discouraged? That’s not even fair to these guys. They’re going to fight.”
It didn’t make a difference against the Suns.
Pau Gasol returned from a respiratory illness that kept him out for a game, but his 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting suggested he hasn’t fully recovered. He also took a shot to his right eye in the third quarter after colliding with Suns center Miles Plumlee. The blood streaming outside of Gasol’s pupil perfectly symbolized the Lakers’ physically battered image.
The Lakers’ point guard situation also remains in shambles.
Steve Blake has worn a right brace to support his hyperextended right elbow, continuing his workouts where he shoots only left-handed. The Lakers will reevaluate Jordan Farmar’s strained left hamstring today in Los Angeles, but will his presence provide a stocking stuffer for the Lakers’ Christmas Day game against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat?
“We’ll be back. We’re not going anywhere,” D’Antoni said. “We’re going to fight and try to stay above .500. If anybody hangs their head, then they don’t need to be on our bandwagon. We’re going to fight. We’ll be fine.”
The Lakers didn’t show that against Phoenix. Instead, they looked lifeless in the same way they did Saturday against Golden State on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Lakers shot a collective 37 percent. Nick Young’s team-leading 19 points came on only a 6-of-17 clip. Jodie Meeks’ 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting marked the second consecutive game he shot below 50 percent. Xavier Henry scored 12 points and collected as many fouls (three) as field goals (3-of-12).
The Lakers’ new smaller lineup – Shawne Williams at power forward over Jordan Hill – hardly did anything in offsetting the Suns’ wide-spread offense. They still featured a wide range of characters, including Gerald Green (22 points), Marcus Morris (19), Plumlee (17), Eric Bledsoe (16) and Goran Dragic (12). The Suns also outrebounded the Lakers, 62-39.
The Lakers trailed by only four points after the first quarter. But a 17-point third quarter quickly balooned into a 90-68 deficit going into the fourth quarter. In a sequence that captured the game’s horrid play, Suns
guard Archie Goodwin bricked a dunk and Hill missed a layup on consecutive possessions.
Yet, D’Antoni’s post-game message hardly addressed X’s and O’s.
“‘Keep your head up,” D’Antoni said. “This is a slug fest. This isn’t going to be smooth.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org