On Sunday evening, new Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni expects to take the sidelines for the first time. As late as Sunday morning, the former Suns and Knicks coach expressed doubt in his ability to do so.
Interim-coach Bernie Bickserstaff, who is now an assistant, would not be pleased to hear D’Antoni wavering. Prior to Friday’s win against the Suns, Bickerstaff was sure that he would not be head coach on Sunday and jokingly said he would “hit” D’Antoni to get him to do his job.
In Friday’s contest, the Lakers scored a season-high 114 points and were clearly influenced by D’Antoni’s teachings in limited practice time. With D’Antoni getting another couple of practices under his belt, the Lakers should continue to grow on the offensive end of the floor. After all, D’Antoni always has been an offensive coach.
Although Kobe Bryant, leading all scorers with 31 points, may not signal much of a change, the rest of the team was much more balanced in their scoring against the Suns. Five Lakers scored in double digits and Metta World Peace scored a season-high 22 points.
For all the talk of Nash, Bryant, Howard, and Gasol, Metta World Peace showed early signs that he may be the player to benefit most from the coaching change. D’Antoni’s goal is to space the floor, move the ball, and find open looks.
With the other super stars on the floor, Metta World Peace expects to end up with open looks every night. Against the Suns, World Peace took 10 three pointers.
World Peace has averaged 14.2 points over a 13-year career, but he has only averaged double digits once since arriving in Los Angles. Last season, World Peace averaged a career-low 7.7 points per game.
This season, however, World Peace is up to 12.9 points a game, and that number should only go up with D’Antoni working on floor spacing.
On Sunday evening, World Peace takes on his former team, the Houston Rockets (4-5). The Rockets feature James Harden, who is averaging 26.7 points per game, and Jeremy Lin, who played under D’Antoni in New York. The Rockets enter Staples Center on the back of a tough overtime loss at Portland on Friday night.
The Mike D’Antoni era expects officially begins tonight, but the immediate goal is to get the 4-5 Lakers to .500.
Game Notes: Darius Morris will start at point guard for the third game in a row