A day after Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol called him out for the team’s lack of discipline and over usage of smaller lineups, head coach Mike D’Antoni responded on Wednesday to the criticism, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
“The thing I just don’t appreciate…you just keep it in-house,” D’Antoni said before the Lakers’ 108-103 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. “It’s very easy just to come over and talk about your frustrations. We’ll try to work something out. We’ll figure something out.”
“But to go to (the media) and to do it in the papers, that’s disturbing. I just don’t think that’s the way to go and people should understand that we’re all trying to solve the same problem, so let’s just put our heads together and do the best we can.”
D’Antoni’s comments were made in response to Gasol’s statements made of frustration as he said the team was playing too much “individual” basketball and usage of smaller lineups was hurting the Lakers’ ability to win games as it has led to Los Angeles ranking at the bottom of the league in average rebound differential (-6.8).
As for the small lineups, D’Antoni stated that he will continue to employ the small-ball tactic because he believes it gives the Lakers the best chance to win.
“We want a certain type of basketball and we’re trying establish that and we’re trying to put everything into it,” D’Antoni said. “Clearly, the numbers say that when you spread the floor and move the ball and get up and down the floor, then we have a lot better chance to win. That’s what we want to do.”
“It’s frustrating for some players,” D’Antoni said. “I understand. Obviously, if you lose playing one way (players think), ‘Well, we’ll just play the other way.’ So, you could get killed the other way. You can’t (do that). We go on by numbers, by feel. We want to establish an identity and we don’t want to be all over the board every night changing something up and matching up to other teams and just grasping at straws. You don’t want to do that.”
After Wednesday’s 108-103 loss to the Memphis Grizzles, Gasol backtracked a bit from his comments as he felt they were made mostly out of frustration and pointed out what he believes is a consistent issue for his team.
“Yes, there was some frustration, but I don’t think it was nothing out of line or nothing that went too far,” Gasol said. “I stated something obvious, to me. I don’t think I said anything too crazy.”
“To me, it wasn’t that big of a deal. It was just the emotions and the frustrations of a tough loss and a bad game on our part, I think, for the most part.”
D’Antoni agreed with Gasol’s statement in the aspect that the team lacked ball movement, but took exception when the 13-year veteran blamed it on their lack of discipline.
“I have no idea what he’s talking about,” D’Antoni said. “(Tuesday) night, like (Gasol) said, we should have had more ball movement, but I don’t know what that has to do with discipline. It has to do with guys trying too hard, guys not really understanding the system totally and not really getting ingrained into it and so I think in that aspect, I can understand what he’s talking about, but I don’t know why he used that word.”
D’Antoni also pointed out that there is too attention being paid to the team’s offense rather than their porous defense that is second in the league in most points allowed at 106.2 per game.
“The frustration always comes out on the offensive end, where we’re OK. It never comes out on the defensive end where we don’t stop anybody,” D’Antoni said. “That’s where I get frustrated, because if you’re going to get upset about something, let’s get upset about the points in the paint, the second-chance points, not getting back on defense. Then, OK, then we’re making progress.”
This back and forth battle of words between the two has permeated out of the team’s lack of success on the court this season. Los Angeles has now lost 26 of their last 32 games, which seats them in last place in the Western Conference and hold the fourth-worst record in the entire NBA. Things appear to be cooling down a bit, but as the Lakers continue to struggle there will only be more off-the-court issues with players frustrated at the team’s inability to maintain any type of success this season.
There is the old saying that “winning solves everything.” The Lakers definitely need some of that if they wish to end the frustration building among their players.
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