D'Antoni leads Lakers to victory in his coaching debut
LOS ANGELES, United States - Los Angeles made Mike D'Antoni's debut behind the Lakers' bench a successful one by beating the Brooklyn Nets 95-90 on Tuesday night, November 20, at Staples Center arena.
D'Antoni, limping after undergoing recent surgery, had been unable to take over behind the bench until Tuesday because of discomfort and tightness in his knee.
"It is great be out there," D'Antoni said. "That's what you coach for. I feel pretty good. It (tightness) is starting to wear off.
"This feels good. Pressure is there, but this feels great."
Kobe Bryant scored 25 points and Dwight Howard finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers who are now 5-1 since sacking Mike Brown.
"We did a good job taking care of the ball and being in sync with each other," Bryant said. "He (D'Antoni) is always calm but he as an undertone edge to him."
Better without Brown
The 26-year-old Howard was just seven-of-19 from the free throw line Tuesday as the Nets tried to take advantage of his struggles from the foul line.
Howard, who can become a free agent at season's end, is not panicking though.
"It was cool. We got the win," Howard said of D'Antoni's debut. "It was a tough win. We battled it out. We got better tonight as a team.
"The free throws will come. I am still going to be aggressive."
The Lakers even rubbed it in. At one point in the final quarter Metta World Peace, who used to be known as Ron Artest, sank a three pointer then walked over and rubbed the head of Brooklyn coach Avery Johnson, who just stood there.
The Lakers started the season 1-4 under Brown but have gone 5-1 since his departure.
The Lakers passed on the opportunity to bring back 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson after they hired D'Antoni November 12.
"That's a good offensive team," D'Antoni said of Brooklyn. "We weren't clicking offensively and didn't play well overall but we had some good individual plays.
"Kobe was terrific. A lot of good stuff. We can go from here."
Even before D'Antoni took over, the Lakers had already begun to run his offense over the last two games, including a 114-102 win over Phoenix on Friday.
"He is still limping a bit but we appreciate his effort to be out there," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said of D'Antoni.
Deron Williams had 22 points and 10 assists for Brooklyn, who saw their five-game winning streak snapped.
The Nets have lost their last nine games to the Lakers, going back to 2007.
They were hoping post their longest winning streak since a six-game run from March 12-21, 2006. - Agence France-Presse