Mike D’Antoni proud of team, despite ‘doomed’ season
Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni did his best to accept his team’s being swept by the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.
“I’m proud of them because they fought,” D’Antoni said. “Just to recap, we were 17-25 and had real, serious problems and were going the wrong way.”
“They aired out their differences and then they went 28-12, one of the best records in the league,” he continued. “They got us in the playoffs. They went 7-1 in April. They fought as hard as they could fight and, as a coach, I appreciated it.”
The Lakers had injuries all year long but the late ones were devastating, especially Kobe Bryant (Achilles) and Steve Nash (hip/hamstring).
“I hated that injuries started mounting up and stuff happens. It was kind of a year that was all upside down, but I appreciate the effort they gave to get us in the playoffs but then they just didn’t have it,” said D’Antoni. “Steve was playing on half a leg and then Steve Blake goes out, Kobe was already out, so it was doomed.”
What steps will the team take to recover?
“I’m sure we’ll sit in the days coming and try to figure it out. [General Manager] Mitch [Kupchak] will put the best team possible on the floor and [we’ll] go back at it,” he said. “We’ll just keep working as hard as we can work.”
The Lakers appear ready to keep D’Antoni on as head coach despite the tumultuous year, although such decisions may not take place for weeks or months.
“I talked to [Nash] for an hour the other day. He wants to come back and have a great season. I know him,” said D’Antoni. “He’ll work so hard it won’t be funny but there’s a lot of guys like that in the dressing room who have things to prove and I think the effort and desire to do it won’t be lacking.”
Given the injuries, could the team have achieved more than they did, winning at a 70% clip for 40 games?
“We regretted going 17-25 to where we had to pull all stops out and guys had to play basically playoff basketball for three months. We didn’t have a chance to rest guys,” said D’Antoni. “We had to get in the playoffs and it went south. A lot of freaky stuff happened but, again, they fought hard. They fought hard for two or three months, but once we got the ship righted a bit, I thought we played well.”
In July, the Lakers have to resolve a number of free-agent issues -- starting with Dwight Howard. His decision will determine the Lakers’ course.
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