Here’s a round up from Saturday’s Lakers practice in advance of the team’s game against Houston on Sunday evening at STAPLES Center.
In preparation for the Lakers fifth game on their six-game home stand, coach Mike D’Antoni spoke post practice about the team’s offensive performance against Phoenix. The team scored a season high 114 points, with five players in double figures, led by Kobe Bryant’s 31. In the previous game against San Antonio, the team mustered just 82 points, yet they had 92 through three quarters against the Suns.
“It was good,” D’Antoni said. “We’re more of in a halfway stage with a lot of the concepts we’re trying to get. Overall, we shot the ball well. There will be some bumps along the road, but overall pretty good.”
Most notably, Metta World Peace got off to a quick start, netting 11 points on 4 for 5 shooting (3 for 4 from the 3-point line) in the first quarter. He finished with 22 points and six boards.
“He had a great night,” D’Antoni noted. “Every game he should be good. I knew he was good but I think he’s better than I thought.”
Defense For D’Antoni:
The Lakers conceded 64 points in the paint to Phoenix, in addition to 21 fast break points, which D’Antoni attributed to a lack of energy from the team.
“I thought we were a little tired,” he said. “I didn’t think we were aggressive early. The second half was a lot better. It’s one of those deals where we just got to tighten up, get a little better, be a little more conscientious and put more energy into it.”
In the second half, though, the team allowed just 45 points, 18 of those in the fourth quarter, when the Suns shot just 7 for 20 (35 percent).
“I think we picked up the intensity,” D’Antoni said. “Darius (Morris) got into the ball and set the tone, and guys were more conscientious.”
Kobe, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol all played at least 35 minutes against the Suns, and on the year, all three are averaging at least that amount per contest.
D’Antoni typically has played shorter rotations, of seven or eight guys in Phoenix and New York, and the Lakers bench – outside of Jordan Hill – has been largely inconsistent. But the 11-year coach isn’t concerned about his second unit’s play.
“The bench will wake up, but we have to get our guys healthy,” D’Antoni said. “Again, it’d help if (Steve) Nash would get back and (Steve) Blake. (We’ll have to) kind of watch their minutes, but I think they’re OK right now.”
Steve Blake, who has sat out the last two games with an abdominal strain, is a “game-time decision,” according to D’Antoni. Starting point guard Steve Nash is out at least another week and Jordan Hill suffered a sprained wrist in the game against San Antonio.