New Lakers coach D'Antoniís bench debut further delayed
Interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff again led the Los Angeles Lakers in a 119-108 victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night. The Los Angeles Lakers are 3-1 in their first week under Bernie Bickerstaff.
"Bernie is a great coach and good guy," stated Mike D'Antoni. "I've known him forever. It just means the world. He does a super job.”
The Los Angeles Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni last week after firing former coach Mike Brown, who was leading the team to their worst start in franchise history. Although Mike D’Antoni has been to two team practices, he still has to greatly rely on the crutches for covering long-distances after surgery.
Under such conditions, Los Angeles Lakers trainer Gary Vitti determined Mike D’Antoni unfit for work and advised him to return when completely healed from the knee surgery and finally able to walk around.
I kept being headstrong,” Mike D’Antoni said regarding his appearances at team practices. “(Gary Vitti) kind of sat me down and said, 'Mike, this is crazy. Somebody comes over, you're going to be bowled over. You're a sitting duck.'”
"And I know my coaches aren't real nimble, so there's no way they're protecting me,” continued Mike D’Antoni. “They're hitting the streets. It was the smart thing to do."
Although the Los Angeles Lakers hired Mike D'Antoni’s older brother, Dan, before the Houston Rockets game, Bernie Bickerstaff was expected to retain his job.
“He's (on the staff permanently), yeah. Unless he loses tonight,” Mike D'Antoni joked earlier.
Jokes apart, the Los Angeles Lakers will have no questions about Bernie Bickerstaff’s position on the staff after the Houston Rockets win. However, Bernie Bickerstaff was informed right away about the Los Angeles Lakers’ intentions of keeping him and jokingly told the players ahead of the game that they were playing for his job.
Mike D'Antoni will take a few days (while missing an unexpected number of games) to catch up on his health. Bernie Bickerstaff again humorously observed before the shootarounds that the former Phoenix Suns coach Mike D'Antoni and guard Steve Nash “are waiting to make their debuts together.”
Steve Nash remained sidelined with a minor leg fracture in his eighth consecutive game on Sunday and is expected to sit out another week.
Although Mike D’Antoni’s hardly coached the Los Angeles Lakers, the team has picked on his preferred faster pace of offensive play in the last two games. Mike D’Antoni was present in the Los Angeles Lakers’ locker room as they faced the Houston Rockets and even addressed the team before Sunday’s game and during the halftime break. The Los Angeles Lakers shot 67.4 percent by halftime, leading the Houston Rockets by 68-60.
The Los Angeles Lakers host the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday before embarking on a three-game road trip starting with the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.