In Sunday’s home win against Atlanta, coach Mike D’Antoni made one change to the starting lineup: inserting Xavier Henry in place of Nick Young. It was an early adaption for a coaching staff still trying to find a set rotation and settle on the best lineups that will best suit the team.
“The players will determine that, and the team will determine that,” D’Antoni said. “As one group plays better, then we’ll do it. I don’t think we’re at that point where we can determine what’s the best yet.”
One of the biggest question marks is trying to find the best big or small lineup combination. Through four games, Shawne Williams and Pau Gasol have started alongside each other. But D’Antoni has paired Gasol and Kaman together for stretches, Hill and Johnson, Kaman and Johnson and Gasol and Hill, too.
Finding that continuity amongst each other, though, has been a process.
“It’s a matter of finding consistency no matter who is on the floor so we can really see what lineups are excelling,” Nash said. “I think right now all lineups are showing glimpses of great stuff and glimpses of negative stuff. Once we get more consistent, we’ll see what lineups are really excelling.”
The glimpses of great signs point towards the Lakers building double-digit leads against both San Antonio and Atlanta in their two most recent home games. The downside was allowing the Spurs to erase that lead and win. The Hawks erased much of a 21-point deficit before L.A. held on to win. Nash explained the team needs to work out the kinks on the fly, however, and use their increased depth as an advantage.
“What we have to do is find ways to use our depth so we don’t give up 20-point leads,” he said. “At the end of the game, we have to give ourselves some breathing room because we’re not a well-oiled machine yet. We don’t even know what lineups suit us bet yet. It’s something that happens when you put a bunch of new guys together and it’s the growing pains to go through.”
Growing together can and will be a process, according to Nash, but with the team embarking on their first road trip of the season, D’Antoni knows exactly what he wants to see from his squad.
“More consistency,” he said. “We’ve played some really good teams and we’ve been ahead outside of Golden State, and we’ve looked good. Now we just have to extend that – maybe it won’t be 48 (minutes) right now – from 24 to 30, from 30 to 40, but we have to get more consistent minutes.”