D'Antoni influence underpins stunning Lakers turnaround

Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:40pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - While Mike D'Antoni is yet to take charge of his first game courtside, the Los Angeles Lakers have turned around their season in explosive fashion in the up-tempo, high-scoring style promised by their new coach.

Since D'Antoni's predecessor Mike Brown was abruptly fired on November 9, the Lakers have triumphed four times in five games, scoring more than 100 points in all four wins to bury memories of their dismal 1-4 start to the campaign.

Even more impressively, they have recorded season-high totals of 114 and 119 in their last two outings which also happened to be the first two games since D'Antoni took over Lakers practice sessions.

Bernie Bickerstaff will forever be able to boast that he guided the Los Angeles franchise to a 4-1 record as their interim coach but the D'Antoni influence has unquestionably energized the players.

"He just lets us go out there and play," five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant told reporters about D'Antoni, who has delayed his courtside return while he recovers from knee replacement surgery.

"It's not like he has to be on top of us and stuff. He comes in before the game and tells us what we need to do, at half-time he comes in and tells us everything we need to adjust and we just go from there.

"We're just picking apart the defense," said Bryant, who recorded the 18th triple-double of his career in the Lakers' 119-108 rout of the Houston Rockets on Sunday.

"We're putting the defense in predicaments where they have to choose and we're making them pay."   Continued...

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) blocks a shot by Houston Rockets center Cole Aldrich (R) during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, California November 18, 2012. Lakers won the game 119-108. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo