D’Antoni ready for Lakers debut vs. Nets

November 20, 2012, 5:51 PM

The Brooklyn Nets will pay a visit to the Los Angeles Lakers in a marquee matchup on Tuesday night.

The 6-2 Nets have started the season strong while the Lakers have made great strides since making an early-season coaching change. Since they let Mike Brown go, the Lakers have won four of five to pull their record to .500

Here are a few things to consider ahead of tonight’s game:

D-Will vs. Dwight

Dwight Howard was supposed to be a member of the Brooklyn Nets.

At the trade deadline last season he had requested a trade and was willing to sign a long-term deal with just one team: Brooklyn.

However, when Orlando had a deal worked out with another team, he chose to opt in for another year on his contract and that eventually led to the Nets walking away from the Howard Sweepstakes as the Lakers cashed in.

Howard was supposed to be heading north to team with Deron Williams while they formed an Eastern superteam to rival the Miami Heat and New York Knicks for Conference honours.

The Lakers centre said he is not concerned if Williams is upset with him for not making the move to Brooklyn.

“It’s my life so if he’s upset because I made a decision for me, so be it,” Howard told the New York Daily News. “If he doesn’t want to be friends because I’m on another team, then so be it. There’s no need to smooth things over.”

Oddly enough, Williams is taking a more conciliatory tone on the situation which leads one to wonder why Howard needs to use all of the tough talk.

“I’m happy for him,” Williams told USA Today. “It looks like he’s having fun out there in LA. I know it’s a lot off his plate now — although I guess he still has to hear (the free-agency chatter) because he hasn’t said if he’ll re-sign (with the Lakers this summer). But he’s got a home now. I think he’s happy there and I wish him the best of luck.”

D’Antoni debut

New Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni will make his long-awaited debut on Tuesday night against the Nets.

D’Antoni was hired by the Lakers on Nov. 12 but has been unable to take his perch on the sidelines as he has been recovering from knee surgery.
Interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff has led the team to a 4-1 record since Mike Brown was fired although that record has come against some of the NBA’s weaker teams.

No Nash or Blake

The Lakers are still awaiting the return of Steve Nash and will also be without Steve Blake for at least the next two games.

The Canadian point guard has not played since the team’s third game of the season after suffering a fractured fibula.

This will provide the Nets with a major advantage at the point-guard position as Williams will be able to take it a little easier on the defensive side of the ball or they can shift him over to help on Kobe Bryant if Joe Johnson struggles.

The Lakers have a clear advantage in the paint as they do on most nights but the Nets can throw out Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries to counter with Pau Gasol and Howard. If the Nets are to win they will need to make it harder for the Lakers to get the ball inside to the bigs and that is where Williams, Johnson and Gerald Wallace will help.

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