Kobe Bryant feels for Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni
The Lakers lost a game to the San Antonio Spurs, but it wasn’t an entirely bad day for them.
Kobe Bryant didn’t throttle anybody when given the chance.
He even showed some sympathy toward Coach Mike D’Antoni several hours before the Lakers lost to the Spurs, 125-109, Wednesday at Staples Center.
Bryant was noncommittal when asked whether D’Antoni should return next season — “I don’t know,” he said on the Dan Patrick Show — but he acknowledged all the losing wasn’t necessarily D’Antoni’s fault.
“It’s been tough on him,” Bryant said. “The two years that he’s been here, he’s been dealing with so many injuries left and right. He hasn’t really gotten a fair deal, fair shake at it since he’s been here.”
The revelation didn’t move D’Antoni either way.
“I don’t sit around and look into hot chocolate and say, ‘Aw, I don’t know,’” said D’Antoni, whose record with the Lakers fell to 62-77. “You just do your job, you do the best you can and hope you get some breaks along the way.”
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak continued to support D’Antoni publicly, telling The Times, “I think Mike D’Antoni’s done a great job under the circumstances.”
Bryant, though, didn’t rush to D’Antoni’s side, saying he still didn’t see why Phil Jackson wasn’t chosen after Coach Mike Brown was fired early last season.
“I didn’t really understand it much either,” Bryant said. “What we can do as players is just trust the organization.”
Does Bryant trust the front office? He has had a few talks with team executive Jim Buss.
“Jimmy is really adamant about the direction that he wants to go with this organization,” Bryant said. “He feels really confident in that fact that he can be able to turn it around. [He] and Jeanie seem to be really focused on being on the same page, getting on the same page and pushing this organization to have the same legacy that their father was able to maintain for so many years.”
Jeanie Buss is the team’s governor and Jim’s sister. Bryant said last week he wanted Jim and Jeanie to patch up whatever rift still remained from the Lakers declining to hire Jackson last season. Jackson is Jeanie’s fiancé.
Jackson didn’t rejoin the Lakers, but Kupchak had a feeling he would land a job somewhere.
“I’ve been around him a little bit in the last year or so and he’s been itching to get back into it,” Kupchak said Wednesday. “And if you’re not coaching and you’re not playing, there’s only one thing left to do. It’s kind of a fun thing for him to go back to New York and take an active role in putting a team together. They made a heck of a commitment to him and I’m happy for him. I think it’s good for him and I think it’s good for the NBA.”
As for Wednesday’s game, the Lakers were within 58-57 at halftime thanks to 19 points from Xavier Henry. He had only five points after that, but the Lakers were scrappier than last Friday’s 119-85 embarrassment, their largest loss ever to the Spurs.
Pau Gasol had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Kent Bazemore hustled his way to 13 points.
If only the Lakers (22-45) could stop the Spurs’ backcourt. Tony Parker scored 25 points and Danny Green added 16. They combined to make 17 of 24 shots as the Spurs won their 11th game in a row.
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