The Los Angeles Lakers are now 1-1 under new head coach Mike D’Antoni after they were upset on Wednesday by the Sacramento Kings, the Western Conference’s worst team.
On Friday, the Lakers will get a much-tougher test when they pay a visit to the Memphis Grizzlies, currently on top in the west.
Here are a few things to consider heading into tonight’s game:
Square peg, round hole?
While many believe that D’Antoni’s high-octane offence will be a better fit for Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, it remains to be seen if the same could be said for Pau Gasol.
Truth be told, Gasol could probably fit into any system but Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant took a subtle dig at Gasol’s conditioning after the 113-97 loss to the Kings.
“Pau is used to labouring up the floor and coasting a little bit,” Bryant told the Los Angeles Daily News. “In this offence, we have to put the motor on the first few steps we move up the court.”
D’Antoni was a little more open when he said “Pau didn’t have his legs” after he played 37 minutes and had a tough time with DeMarcus Cousins at different points of the game.
It was an off shooting night for Gasol as he was just 3-of-10 from the floor.
While he was willing to admit to struggling from the free-throw line, he said the pace would not be a problem for him.
“I don’t know if it’s extremely physically demanding,” Gasol said. “It’s an offence that you have to move and have to be on the go and get to your spots run to your spots and find some good flow out there that we really haven’t reached consistently. The offence will evolve and will be better.”
Lakers buying in
While Mike Brown may not have been the right choice to coach the Lakers, his replacement believes that Brown wasn’t necessarily to blame for his failure with Lakers.
“It’s not always the coach’s fault at all,” D’Antoni told the Orange County Register. “Mike Brown is a great coach. But sometimes there’s a disconnect. When that happens, then it changes — the players buy in quicker, and they’re ready to get down another road.
“Whether it’s the right road or not, we’ll find out at the end. But so far, so good — in the sense they are buying in.”
Orange County Register columnist Kevin Ding points out that D’Antoni’s confidence appears to quickly be rubbing off on the Lakers and that is, perhaps, the difference between the two bench bosses.
“It’s just the latest demonstration of how the most important thing about coaching a professional sports team is being able to inspire,” Ding wrote.
Grizzlies get help
With Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph on board, the Grizzlies might be the league’s best bet to match up with the Lakers frontline around the league but the pair are getting a little assistance on Friday night.
Back-up power forward Darrell Arthur will suit up for the first time this season.
“We need him,” Randolph told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. “He’s an energy guy. He picks up full-court (defence). He’s good in pick-and-pops. He’s big for us and people have to respect him.”
Arthur spent eight months working his way back from an Achilles injury but his rehabilitation was put on hold when he suffered a leg fracture during a pick-up game in September.