New Lakers Head Coach Mike D'Antoni welcomes Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant… (Paul Buck / EPA )
The Bernie Bickerstaff era (4-1) finally came to a close as Mike D'Antoni took his place as the team's new head coach. He had to work without Steve Nash (leg) and Steve Blake (abdominal strain), both sidelined with injuries.
D'Antoni's debut was a challenging 95-90 win over the Brooklyn Nets. With Metta World Peace emerging as a consistent offensive force, D'Antoni noted he expects even more from his forward, 17 to 20 points a game.
D'Antoni also mentioned that he has no problem with teams intentionally fouling center Dwight Howard, saying he likes the math if Howard can hit one of two free throws per possession.
The Lakers stumbled on Wednesday night, losing to the Kings, 113-97, in Sacramento. The team's starters, especially Pau Gasol, seemed vulnerable from minute overload.
Still at 6-6, the Lakers had yet to take advantage of their home-heavy schedule. They also proved to be the worst free-throw shooting team in the league.
On Friday the Lakers lost their second straight game, on the road to the Memphis Grizzlies, 106-98. Gasol was benched for the fourth quarter in another lackluster performance.
Two-straight subpar games from Howard emphasized how much further he has to go to build up stamina after offseason back surgery. At 6-7, the Lakers found themselves with the 18th best overall record.
The Lakers bounced back in a big way in Dallas against the Mavericks, dominating with a 115-89 victory, a far cry from their opening-night loss to the Mavs.
In a good sign, offseason acquisitions Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks finally began to contribute off the bench.
In other news, reports said the Lakers were interested in adding Raja Bell or Mickael Pietrus, although the roster remains full with 15 players.
While the Lakers don't use rookie center Robert Sacre often in games, his non-guaranteed contract appears safe. Perhaps the easiest "cut" to make room on the roster would be the non-guaranteed deal of Darius Johnson-Odom, who was recently assigned to the D-Fenders (although the Lakers may still intend to keep their athletic rookie guard).
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