The Los Angeles Lakers met on Tuesday for morning shootaround ahead of their evening meeting with the Indiana Pacers.
Off the bat, Mike D’Antoni was asked about comments Magic Johnson made on the The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, accusing D’Antoni of not teaching defense and not being a championship-level coach.
“Next subject,” D’Antoni laughed off the question.
Back to the business on the court, Steve Nash was visible sporting an unshaven face. He was shooting jump shots and had a hop in his step. Unfortunately, Nash was not immediately available for comment, but D’Antoni hinted that the true test would come at Thursday’s practice.
“He feels pretty good,” D’Antoni said he talked to Nash. “His back just got tweaked the other day, but he’s getting ready.”
The Lakers’ coach also confirmed that Wesley Johnson will reassume starting duties after coming off the bench against the New York Knicks. Nick Young will return to his bench role. Joining Johnson will be Jodie Meeks, Kendall Marshall, Ryan Kelly and Pau Gasol, a lineup that has featured often over the past couple weeks.
Against Indiana’s 7-foot 2-inch center, Gasol, in particular, will have his hands full. Roy Hibbert is a monster on the defensive side of the ball, but offensively, Gasol has stepped up his production lately.
After topping the 20-point mark only eight times in the first two months of the season, the Spaniard has scored 20 or more points in 10 of the Lakers’ 13 games this January. Considering he’s also averaging 12.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.8 blocks during January, Gasol would be contending for an All-Star spot if he had been playing at this level earlier in the season.
Without a doubt, Gasol’s ability to stay productive against Hibbert will be a key factor in keeping the Lakers competitive on Tuesday night at Staples Center.