Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni took his brand of small ball to a whole new level.
In the Lakers’ 92-86 loss Sunday to the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center, D’Antoni fielded a lineup at times that featured all three point guards on the floor in the Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Kendall Marshall.
A sign that D’Antoni wants to make the team even smaller? Not exactly. During the time, a pair featuring Chris Kaman, Robert Sacre or Jordan Hill always remained on the floor. But with the Lakers’ wing players in Ryan Kelly, Shawne Williams and Wesley Johnson shooting a combined 5-of-16 from the field, D’Antoni found this as a temporary solution to ensure strong floor spacing with better shooters.
“The more point guards you have on the floor, the better it is,” D’Antoni said. “But can you get away with it defensively? We got away with it that game, btu I don’t know if that will be the case.”
But with the Lakers nursing injuries to notable wing players in Kobe Bryant (fractured left knee), Nick Young (non-displaced fracture in left knee) and Jodie Meeks (sprained right ankle) out at least until after All-Star weekend, the team may resort to such a combination.
The Lakers fielded a three-guard lineup for the final 6:39 of the second quarter where the Lakers closed out the half, 14-9. The Lakers outscored the Bulls 11-5 for a three-minute stretch in the third quarter, but that experiment quickly ended after Nash left because of nerve irritation in his left leg. Marshall scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, while Nash posted eight points on a 3-of-4 clip. Blake looked less spectacular with eight points on only 3-of-12 shooting, four assists and five turnovers.
“It was interesting. What I thought would be a problem wasn’t at all defensively,”Marshall said. “I thought we did a great job, us three did a great job cracking up rebounding. Offensively when you have three guys with anybody who can run the pick-and-roll and anybody that can shoot the ball, it’s hard to defend. I think we did a good job of it when we were out there.”
What’s the key in ensuring such a lineup works?
“I don’t think it’s something you go to 25 minutes a game,” Marshall said. “But every once in a while, it can flunk teams out to where they don’t know what to do with cross matches. It can work to our advantage that way.”
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