The Lakers are struggling this season, a season in which many people automatically placed them in the Finals after signing Steve Nash and trading for Dwight Howard. After starting the season 1-4, the Lakers made the rash decision to fire Mike Brown and give-up on the Princeton offensive scheme. Phil Jackson demanded too much to come out of retirement and the Lakers decided to hire Mike D’Antoni.
Mike D’Antoni has never been known as a defensive minded coach in the NBA. He wasn’t with his run-and-gun Phoenix Suns and he certainly wasn’t with the New York Knicks. As Stephen A. Smith puts it, “the New York Knicks cannot play defense, folks! Primarily because schematically it’s never important, nor has it ever been a priority in D’Antoni’s mind.” Look at the Knicks defense this season under Mike Woodson, it is not a coincidence.
It isn’t new to anyone that follows the NBA, D’Antoni doesn’t emphasize defense. Well, today a reporter started to push the issue asking whether or not the Lakers practiced defense before the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers… D’Antoni didn’t appreciate that, have a look (start at 25 second mark):
D’Antoni is starting to get “pissed off.” I know several thousand other people who are starting to get pissed off, Laker Nation. The Lakers are 9-13 and for the first time in a real long time, the Clippers might actually finish ahead of the Lakers in the standings. Yes, it is early in the season, but it is also more than a quarter complete and the Lakers aren’t looking good.
The strategy of letting Kobe dominate every game is no longer viable with an older, slow, uninspired defensive team. Kobe has scored 30 or more points eleven times this season and the Lakers are 1-10 during those games. He has scored 30 or more during five of the last six games and they only won when he didn’t score 30. At this pace, Kobe could burn-out (he is getting older) and the Lakers still won’t be playing any defense.
I think the Lakers should maybe try more than 30 minutes of defense before the next game.
[Photo Credit: Vavel.com]