Five-time NBA All-Star and current TNT NBA analyst Reggie Miller weighs… (Ezra Shaw / Allsport )
Who doesn’t have an opinion on the Lakers’ woes?
Almost every hoop analyst has had a turn, and then some, at offering perspective on the matter, so why not Reggie Miller. The Basketball Hall of Famer -- he was inducted in September – grew up in Riverside and played for UCLA.
So there is a deeper understanding of the Southern California sports landscape and meaning of the Lakers. Miller is an NBA analyst for TNT, which is carrying Thursday night’s Lakers-Knicks game. (Miller, the Knick-killer, in his Pacers days, won’t be on that game, by the way.)
But he spoke about the learning curve for the Lakers under Coach Mike D’Antoni and the season-long struggle.
“Right now, they’re just going through the bad period of the honeymoon period of bringing in a new coach,” Miller said. “Whenever you try to learn any system in a short amount of time, it’s going to be difficult. Because you always revert back to old habits whether it’s the triangle or the Princeton or the traditional offense the Lakers have run. You’re always going to revert back to that.”
You might say this honeymoon period under D’Antoni is the shortest on record. The phone conversation with Miller was late last week before the Lakers lost at Oklahoma City and dropped two more games, to Utah on Sunday and at Cleveland on Tuesday.
Like many other analysts, he maintained there still is a place with the Lakers for the struggling and now injured Pau Gasol.
“Do I like him always camping out and shooting jumpers? No,” Miller said. “If they could find a good balance when Dwight [Howard] and Pau are on the floor ... it would help if Dwight was a better passer from the high post, then you could interchange them but that’s not the case.
“There’s a way where they both can succeed and the Lakers can be successful when they’re both on the floor. Because there’s no other team that has two skilled guys – I know any team can probably throw out two big guys – but we’re talking about skilled guys in Dwight and Pau. There’s no other team that can do that.
“That’s why no matter what they’re going through, if they ever get it right ... to me, that’s the scariest team because they have two dominant 7-footers and an unbelievable closer in Kobe Bryant and you’ve got a floor general [in Steve Nash].”
Meanwhile, the Knicks’ early-season success has not surprised him at all.
“For them to take the next step, Carmelo Anthony was going to have to sacrifice and show the team that he’s willing and committed to play at the defensive end,” Miller said. “That's exactly what he’s done all year.
“Now his numbers are still pretty good offensively. But the diving out of bounds, picking up full court, the rebounding, the sacrifice of the body -- when your best player is doing all that -- that not only energizes the fans base, but the 10th, 11th12thman on your team. You see what X is doing and everyone else falls in line.
“At the defensive end they look so much crisper and cleaner, so I’m not surprised at all. That’s been the knock on Carmelo throughout his career, that he was a one-way player. You can’t say that anymore about him.”
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