On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers will hope to celebrate Mike D’Antoni’s debut by going above .500 for the first time this season.
The Lakers have never played the Brooklyn Nets before, and Mike D’Antoni has never taken the Lakers’ sidelines before, so Tuesday night offers a new experience for players, fans, and coaches alike.
D’Antoni may not have been on the sidelines the past two games, but he was certainly in the players’ heads. Since his arrival in Los Angeles, the Lakers have set back-to-back season-highs in scoring. The Lakers scored 114 against the Phoenix Suns on Friday and 119 against the Houston Rockets on Sunday.
In the eight games prior to D’Antoni’s arrival in Los Angeles, the Lakers were averaging 96.5 points per game. Also, the Lakers were only allowing an average of 93.1 points per game. Over the last two games, the Lakers have given up an average of 105.0 points per game.
Despite the high opponents' point totals, the Lakers have displayed heightened defensive intensity at crucial points in their last two wins. In the win against Phoenix, the Lakers closed out the third quarter with an 8-0 run and continued to play strong defense through the end of the game.
Against Houston, the Lakers went on a 12-0 run early in the third quarter and put the game out of reach. The final score was 119-108, but the game was never even that close. The Lakers led by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter.
D’Antoni’s offensive system is designed to space the floor and create more field-goal attempts per game. The last two games, the Lakers averaged 87 field-goal attempts. In the eight games prior, the Lakers averaged 78 field-goal attempts.
However, the Rockets and Suns were both running teams that ranked near the bottom of the league in terms of points allowed.
On Tuesday night, the Lakers’ ability to push the ball, increase the tempo, and put up more shots will be tested against a Brooklyn Nets team ranked sixth in the league in points allowed per game.