We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 95-90 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in Mike D’Antoni’s first game on the sidelines:
Paint points for the Nets, an excellent job by the Lakers to keep the visitors out of the paint, keyed by Howard’s presence alongside four blocks. In the past two games, L.A. conceded 56 and 64 points to the run-and-gun Rockets and Suns, but Brooklyn had nothing going inside.
Missed free throws by the Lakers, who shot 51.4 as a team only because Kobe Bryant evened out the percentage with 6-for-6 shooting in the final minute. Due largely to Dwight Howard’s 7 for 19 struggle at the stripe, L.A. was in the 30′s for much of the night. The Nets fouled him intentionally in the fourth quarter, though he did make 2 of 4 in those situations.
Second half points for the Deron Williams-Brook Lopez combo that totaled 33 points in the first half on 12 of 19 field goals. “I thought that we battled,” Williams said. “They came out and tried to hit us early … and we responded. I had control of the game at one point, missed some shots down the stretch and they got to the free-throw line for whatever reason and won the game.”
Turnovers averaged by the Lakers in three games under D’Antoni’s new system, a surprise to some that assumed TO’s would climb with a faster tempo. But as the new coach explained: “(They) should be (down),” D’Antoni said. “We tell them to make easy plays. The first good shot we take, we don’t over pass, and we spread the floor where passes should be easy. Not turning it over should be a by-product.”
Points for the Nets in the final 5:12 of the fourth quarter. They managed only 17 in the fourth and 33 in the second half, while shooting only 32.6 percent. Mike D’Antoni was pleased with his team’s defense: “I’m really happy about getting a win obviously. Defensively they shot 31 percent in the second half. We held them to 33 points. It’s a good offensive team. The players made some adjustments … good spots. Especially a win against a team that’s hot.”
Three-pointers drilled by Metta World Peace in nine attempts, which didn’t surprise his coach, who wants him to be aggressive as defenses shift to Bryant, Howard and Gasol: “He should be wide open every time. He was 4/9 for threes. I told him he needs to make 4 of 10 every game. And he can do that. That’s 40 percent and that’s pretty good so he’ll do that. I think he’ll do that every game. He’s going to be up there with 17-20 points.”