Mike D’Antoni has funny retort to conversation had by Nick Young and Pau Gasol

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, prior to Sunday’s game against the visiting Orlando Magic, was told of a recent conversation that took place between Nick Young and Pau Gasol, who apparently want to do everything they can to avoid being the worst Lakers team since it moved to Los Angeles for the 1960-61 season.

The 1974-75 Lakers went 30-52. These Lakers are 22-46 and would have to go 9-5 over their last 14 games in order to accomplish what Gasol and Young want. That would make them 31-51.

“They probably should have had that conversation a little earlier, first off,” D’Antoni said, drawing a large round of laughter from assembled reporters. “But you know, hey, great, whatever we try to do is good.”

Good chance of Steve Blake, Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar playing against Minnesota

The Lakers have a good chance of getting back three familiar faces on the court in guards Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and Steve Nash when Los Angeles takes on Minnesota tomorrow.

“I think they are all ready to go, “said Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni after practice on Monday. “We’ll see how everybody wakes up, but there is a possibility that all three could play.”

Both Blake and Farmar said they felt good after practice, but would not give a definitive answer when asked if they would be playing tomorrow.

“We’ll see,” said Blake, whose right elbow was wrapped in ice when he addressed reporters. “I felt pretty good today in practice and I’ll see how I feel when I am when I wake up and go from there.”

“I’m not sure about tomorrow, we’ll see,” said Farmar. “I’m available if they allow me too, but I don’t know how they will work it out. Everyone is coming back at the same time so they are just trying to balance things out.”

All three guards returned to practice earlier in the week.

Mike D’Antoni: GM Mitch Kupchak will do all he can to improve the Lakers

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni was fielding questions from reporters following practice Thursday in El Segundo. Since the Lakers are just 13-19 and losers of six consecutive games, it wasn’t surprising that possible trades were part of the discussion.

One that has been talked about is post Pau Gasol going to Cleveland for former Lakers post Andrew Bynum. There is no evidence that deal is even close to being done. But the Lakers’ situation does beg the question – does this team need to make a major trade of shake-up proportions to give it a chance to make the playoffs and do well in them.

D’Antoni replied to just such an inquiry.

“I’m not sure, that’s Mitch’s job,” D’Antoni said, referring to Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak. “He’s going to look at everything possible and try to make us as good as possible. But there’s no magic dust out there. You just can hope and wish and I’m sure he’ll look at everything.”

In spite of all the injuries to Lakers guards – including Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar, Steve Blake and Xavier Henry – D’Antoni insists there remains enough talent on the team to be successful.

“… We have enough to win,” he said.


Reviews for the Lakers’ Broadway performance range from bad to worse

Madison Square Garden isn’t really on Broadway, it’s a block over on 7th Avenue, but, hey, you get the idea. The Lakers played the Knicks on Thursday, on the figurative stage at the World’s Most Famous Arena, and got thumped. Then they got hammered in the court of public opinion. Here’s a sampling from TNT’s commentators.

Steve Kerr on the Lakers’ lack of confidence: “The Lakers have no offensive confidence, no rhythm. When you don’t play with a precision offense, you end up with poor spacing defensively. Maybe when the Lakers come back with (Pau) Gasol and (Steve) Nash and their offense improves, maybe their defense can improve as well.”

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Mike Brown says in radio interview that Kobe Bryant made him a better coach

Mike Brown (you remember him, don’t you?) went on SiriusXM’s NBA show “Off the Dribble” Thursday and had a few things to say about his former employer and a few of his former players. Nothing earth-shattering, but it’s still fairly interesting stuff.

Among the highlights, Brown said of coaching Kobe Bryant: “I had a good time working with Kobe. I really felt like I learned a lot. He’s a guy that is extremely intelligent and extremely intense. In my opinion, when you’re around people like that, they only push you to get better and so being around him I really felt like he made me a better coach.”

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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.

New-look Lakers drawing rave reviews after Mike D’Antoni’s debut

The Lakers are different under new coach Mike D’Antoni. Don’t take our word for it. Here’s what others were saying after the Lakers defeated the Brooklyn Nets 95-90 in D’Antoni’s debut on the bench Tuesday night at Staples Center:

“I would say it’s been weird, but in L.A. there is no such thing. It’s unfortunate anytime you see a coach lose his job. It’s always tough. For us, we just have to put one foot forward and continue to work. Coach D (D’Antoni) has come in here and done a fantastic job.”
–Kobe Bryant, Lakers guard.

“I don’t think they are thinking as much. As an athlete, you want to play the game on instinct. Part of what they were doing (with that Princeton offense) is that no one really knew what they were doing. You can see now the energy and confidence with which they are playing.”
–Greg Anthony, former NBA player on NBA TV Tuesday night.

“The best thing (D’Antoni) does for this team is give them a calming presence. He’s making guys comfortable, letting them know they can trust the process. When you have someone with a good presence inside, it really allows you to relax and focus just on your job. And when you’re in L.A. (with that circus), you need someone to control that because, if not, your attention will be everywhere.”
–Chris Webber, former player on NBA TV.