The Los Angeles Lakers took to the practice court on Thursday with a myriad of issues to address. Their 7-8 record has caused plenty of discord in Laker-land, but how is the team responding?
Sports Out West was there to get the inside track as to where they go from here.
In new head coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, there’s an emphasis on shooters due to the fast pace and tendency to take quick shots within the framework of the offensive set. Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are masters at getting into the lane and creating space, so it’s up to the role players to knock those shots down.
From free throws, to the bench woes and everything in between, there was plenty to talk about on Thursday.
On the bench:
A lot has been made of the bench and their struggles to put points on the board. How does the offense affect the bench’s role?
“We’re still figuring it all out. Obviously if we knock down open shots, it opens [the offense] up a lot.”
On free throws:
The Lakers are 29th in the NBA through 15 games in free throw shooting, shooting 66.8 percent through 15 games. There wasn’t much emphasis placed on the fact that they need to improve. D’Antoni seemed to write it off as an anomaly. Dwight Howard, who was shooting threes after practice, didn’t even want to talk about them.
“I don’t want to talk about free throws anymore. I don’t want to talk about free throws. Why are we talking about free throws?
Reporter: It’s part of the game.
Howard: “There’s other parts of the game too — besides free throws.”
“What I’m really confused about is how do you score 77 points when you only take 43 foul shots? You’ve got to be a pretty special team to do that.”
Poor free throw shooting will put more pressure on the three-point shooters to make a higher percentage of their given looks. Granted, they will need to hit more than other teams, especially given the fact that they will get plenty of wide-open shots due to teams focusing on Dwight Howard inside and players like Bryant and Nash creating space through dribble penetration. The last game, a heartbreaking 79-77 loss against the Indiana Pacers, shed light on the struggles from the line. The company line is that free throws are mental, and the team will come out of it.
On the return of Steve Nash:
With the team looking out of sorts in the offense, D’Antoni has made no secret of needing his primary floor general back on the floor. There is no sample size for what the Lakers will look like when Nash gets back since he was hurt before D’Antoni got there, but it seems as though the coaching staff and the team expect a major boost on offense, especially given that he and Nash had their best years together as player and coach.
Mike D’Antoni :
“We’ve got to get him back, both Steves. Even in Phoenix when he went out, we had trouble hitting 100 points.”
On the 7-6 record at this point in the season:
Metta World Peace:
“It’s still early, we’re good.”