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Mike D'Antoni's influence already coming through with Lakers

LAKERS FYI

The Lakers scored a lot of points and gave up slightly fewer in a 114-102 win over Phoenix on Friday. Metta World Peace emerged with 22 points, his third-highest output in 155 games over three years.

November 17, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times
  • The Lakers scored 114 points in their first game after a Mike D'Antoni-led practice.
The Lakers scored 114 points in their first game after a Mike D'Antoni-led… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

That free-taco promotion needs to be amended.

How many times will the Lakers win a home game and hold their opponent under 100 points? Not enough to plan dinner around two fast-food tacos.

A hint of Mike D'Antoni's credo was shown in the Lakers' 114-102 victory Friday over Phoenix. Score a lot of points, surrender slightly fewer than a lot of points.

If nothing else, it'll be entertaining.

"My coaching already took over," deadpanned D'Antoni, who carries a reputation as a poor defensive coach.

The Lakers allowed 64 points in the paint, which is hard to do against the Suns. It's hard to do against any team, to be honest.

But they'll take the victory, considering what they've been through the last week.

Mike Brown was out, Phil Jackson appeared to be in, then D'Antoni was actually in, but not until he recovered from knee-replacement surgery. On top of it, Steve Nash remains sidelined until at least next weekend because of a small fracture in his left leg.

Emerging from the chaos was Metta World Peace.

He had 22 points against Phoenix, his third-highest output in 155 games over the last three years. It was a pretty good night for him.

"Metta had not a pretty good night," D'Antoni said, correcting a reporter. "Metta had a great night."

World Peace took 10 three-point attempts, making five of them. He probably won't shoot that many again this season.

"I doubt it," he said.

If he's in a grove, though, why not shoot…15 of them?

"I definitely doubt it," he said.

Friday's outburst pushed World Peace's average to 12.9 points through nine games. It's a renaissance compared with his last two seasons. He averaged a career-low 8.5 points in 2010-11 and then established a new career low last season, finishing with a 7.7-point average.

Much was made of his off-season conditioning as the Lakers arrived for training camp in October. He arrived in much better shape than a year ago, and it showed on the court.

"I'm definitely quicker than last year. I can get to the basket a little easier," he said. "Last year, I wasn't able to get to the basket consistently because I would get tired after the first couple hard drives to the basket. Then the rest of the nights, I'm just shooting jumpers. Here I can actually drive and get my teammates opened sometimes."

Said D'Antoni: "I knew he was good, but I think he was even better than I thought."

Getting closer

D'Antoni was expected to make his Lakers debut Sunday against Houston. He even spoke to reporters Saturday without the aid of a crutch after the team practiced.

"It's close by, though," he said.

Reserve guard Steve Blake might be back Sunday after missing the last two games because of a strained abdominal muscle. If he can't play, Darius Morris will probably get a third consecutive start at point guard. Morris is averaging three points and 3.5 assists over the last two games.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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