A Winning Update: New Coach & An Improved System for the L.A. Lakers
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Finally, the real Lakers that everyone has been looking for has shown up in a big way by winning at a high efficiency level. Yes, they are finally jelling after the horrific start with the subsequent firing of Mike Brown. It is unbelievable that Mike got fired with this superstar cast of players in his control: Kobe, Howard, Gasol, Nash, and Metta World Peace. With the talent of these guys, all that is needed is to give them the ball and let them play. However, the complexity of the “Princeton Offense” appears to have been the downfall of his fabulous storybook coaching career with the Lakers. Brown is probably at home asking himself, “Why didn’t I just let them play?” Nevertheless, the 42-year-old Brown is a wealthy unemployed coach with approximately $11 million to dry his tears. Not bad for a shortened season last year, plus five games this year. No more fretting, sweating, or yelling at the guys to get back on defense for him, it’s now in the hands of Mike D’Antoni.
Although D’Antoni has officially been hired, he hasn’t taken the full helm as of yet, due to recovery from knee surgery. Therefore, Bernie Bickerstaff has continued to lead the Lakers from the darkness of losing to the light of winning. He has a record of 4-1 with wins against the Warriors, Kings, Suns, and Rockets. The only loss was to the Spurs in the final minute; this was a game which they should have won. The Lakers have almost turned the corner on losing, as they have reached the .500 mark for the season (5-5). With a win on Tuesday against the visiting Brooklyn Nets, they will be on top and hopefully, won’t look back.
Now to put it into perspective, the Lakers are still a work in progress in that they haven’t beaten the top teams in the NBA, but it appears that they are on their way. With the health and progress of Dwight Howard, the season is getting brighter for the team. On Sunday, Howard had a terrific game with 28 point, 13 boards, and 3 blocks, in his performance against Jeremy Lin and the Houston Rockets. When asked if he was 100%, he said, “No, I’m not there. But I’m happy with the progress, I’m happy with my teammates finding me in great spots to score, and I am just trying to have fun and play as hard as I can.” He further added when asked about him and Kobe being on the same page, he said, “We are almost there, we are almost on the same page.” This chemistry-flow is crucial for the success of the team. In fact, Kobe was in the “flow” as the floor-general with his 18th career triple-double with 22 points, 11 boards, and 11 assists. What can you say about Kobe in his 17th season; simply amazing! “We’re picking apart the defense putting them in predicaments where they have to chose, and we are making them pay,” said Kobe.
The dynamics of a great player is that they make everyone around them better. For example, Kobe fed Gasol the ball as he became the 10th foreign-born player to score 15,000 points in his career. Gasol finish the night with 17 points and Metta World Peace added 15. Also, Darius Morris had a career-high with 12 points. With the absence of Nash and Blake recovering from injury, Morris has ceased the opportunity to make the most of it by becoming a more confident and productive starter. Even the bench players had a 25 point total contribution in the 119-108 win.
The Rockets were coached by Calvin Samson in the absence of Kevin McHale due to family matters. An interesting fact about this game is that, Bernie Bickerstaff’s son, J.B. Bickerstaff, is an assistant coach on the Rockets; with a line from the old television show, “Father knows best”.
The Lakers will conclude with a six game home-stance against Deron Williams and the Nets on Tuesday, before they take to the road for three games against the Kings, Grizzlies, and Mavericks. It is very possible that the D’Antoni’s, (Mike and his older brother Dan) will make their debut appearance for this game.