Mike D’Antoni calls himself “idiot” for suggesting discouraged Laker fans should root for another team

Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni, right, walks back to the bench as Wesley Johnson waits to check into the NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns during the first half Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, right, walks back to the bench as Wesley Johnson waits to check into the NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns during the first half Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Lakers lost another game by double-digit margins, experienced never-ending injuries and offered non-existent offense. But Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni scoffed at any mention that the Lakers’ struggles prompted their fans to feel discouraged.

“If they’re discouraged, then find another team to root for,” D’Antoni said in an agitated tone after the Lakers’ 117-90 loss Monday to the Phoenix Suns at U.S. Airways Center. “We’re not going to give up. Are you kidding me? Discouraged? That’s not even fair to these guys.”

Plenty of Laker fans expressed on Twitter and in the comments section of Lakers-related articles that D’Antoni’s comments weren’t fair to them, either. But following Tuesday’s practice, D’Antoni apologized and called himself a name plenty of Laker fans had done already.

“I was an idiot last night. I was out of my mind,” D’Antoni said. “I was ticked off. We didn’t play well. I thought it was a game we could’ve won and we didn’t do it. So I said some stuff. That’s me. I just made a mistake.”

Instead of telling Laker fans to root for another team, D’Antoni has now asked for them to stay.

“To me, the meaning is this. We have a team that needs to overachieve. We have a lot of injuries and we’re in a tough state right now,” D’Antoni said. “We need to everybody to be pulling with us. It’s going to take a whole village to get this done. I just said it wrong. It came out wrong because I was agitated. I apologize and we’ll move on. We need everybody to be behind these guys. They’re going to play as hard as they can play.”

D’Antoni made similar arguments after the Lakers’ loss to Phoenix. But he did so during a terse and tense press conference that entailed the Lakers’ coach brushing off concerns about the team’s depleted backcourt and inconsistent play.

The Lakers received some dose of good news with Jordan Farmar receiving medical clearance to make his return Christmas Day against the Miami Heat after missing the past 10 games because of a strained left hamstring. But the Lakers still are without Kobe Bryant, who didn’t speak to reporters Tuesday after remaining sidelined for the past week because of a fractured left knee. Plenty of time awaits for the pending return of Steve Nash (three weeks, back) and Steve Blake (five weeks, hyperextended right elbow). Meanwhile, the Lakers (13-15) remain in 10th place in the Western Conference.

“I’m proud because of their attitude and the way they approached each game,” D’Antoni said. “We got tired lately. Our energy sagged because guys were logging heavy minutes. We just have to keep them up and keep them focused. And keep them believing and see if we can get this done. I believe we can.”

“We have a good group thats fun to coach them. we just need to pull in the same direction and hit on all cylinders

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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