Mike D'Antoni is coming to town Wednesday, will be introduced as the new Lakers coach Thursday and hasn't ruled out making his coaching debut against his old Phoenix Suns team Friday. To appreciate just what an offensive innovator the Lakers are getting, even San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich has updated his one-time plodding offense into one that peppers its opposition with pick-and-roll plays just the way D'Antoni has preached for years. The Lakers put together a good defensive effort Tuesday night but couldn't contain the Spurs on their final possession, giving up Danny Green's go-ahead 3-point shot in an 84-82 loss. The importance of coaching was on display at the other end, too. The Lakers couldn't execute their play on the final possession of the game: Kobe Bryant couldn't shake free and Pau Gasol was left to miss a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left. It was a disappointing end to another strong game by Bryant, who had 28 points on 12-of-19 shooting, eight assists and four rebounds. Amid this tumultuous opening stretch of the Lakers' season, Bryant has played as well as anyone in the NBA - but the Lakers are still only 3-5. This would have served as the Lakers' first victory over a team with a winning record at this point in the season. Bryant had a masterful performance against San Antonio, calling many of the Lakers' plays as interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff has empowered him to do and mostly running pick-and-roll sets with Gasol to create Lakers offense. The Bryant-Gasol two-man game is what the Lakers rode down the stretch, just the way Phil Jackson used to call the game in the past. Gasol hit one clutch shot but not the last one, and the Lakers failed to get several late loose balls.
Bryant's 28 points, play-calling not enough to sink Spurs
Orange County Register | Nov 14