After starting the season 0-4, the Los Angeles Lakers quickly dumped coach Mike Brown and went on the hunt for a new head man. They seemed to be leaning towards returning Phil Jackson to the bench, but in the end hired former Suns and Knicks coach, Mike D’Antoni.
After leading practices this past week, D’Antoni, who is still recovering from knee replacement surgery, is finally ready to coach his first game tonight against the Brooklyn Nets, ESPN reports. He’s had to sit out the last two games since being hired and is anxiously waiting to get out onto the court with his new team.
“I’m too psyched up and too ready to go,” D’Antoni told reporters Tuesday. “I’ll get through this; it’s no big deal.”
Although D’Antoni hasn’t been with the team during an actual game yet, his presence has already been felt and his signature fast-paced offense, which he installed this week in practice, has already started to pay dividends. The team has averaged more than 116 points in back-to-back wins and is now 5-5 on the year.
After posting 60-points in the first half for the second straight game on Sunday, the players could already tell something was different, not just with the offense, but with the team and coaching dynamic.
“The coaching staff is communicating extremely well in terms of things that they want to see us execute,” Kobe Bryant said. “We’re doing a good job reading the defense and moving the ball around. We’re shooting pretty well. … (D’Antoni) just lets us go out there and play.”
D’Antoni will hope the team continues to stay loose on the floor tonight against a Nets team that is playing above expectations at 6-2.
Be sure to check back tomorrow to see how D’Antoni and the Lakers fared in his debut.