Mike D’Antoni impressed by chemistry of Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman
The Lakers won their second exhibition game in three tries Tuesday, defeating the Denver Nuggets 90-88 in Ontario.
What did Coach Mike D’Antoni take away from the Lakers’ win?
“The two bigs can play together. I didn’t know that,” said D’Antoni after practice Wednesday.
Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman started together in the front court, with Gasol listed as forward and Kaman center.
“I’ve not traditionally loved two bigs together, but they have nice chemistry and they both are skilled,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll see going forward, but it looked good last night.”
Gasol scored 14 points in 24 1/2 minutes on six-of-11 shooting with eight rebounds. Kaman had 12 on six-of-11 shooting along with seven rebounds.
D’Antoni still hasn’t decided on a starting five. He’s still considering going for a smaller player with a shooting touch, like Shawne Williams, to stretch the floor.
If D’Antoni does decide to move forward with Gasol and Kaman as his starters, he may balance out the rest of the starting lineup with players who can make up for the pair’s relative lack of foot speed.
“That might be where we need some rangy perimeter guys -- again, it’s just hard to tell until we look at it,” D’Antoni said. “It’s real early right now.”
Wesley Johnson might be ideal as a starter alongside the two Laker bigs, given his athleticism and potential defensively.
Johnson is sidelined with a strained tendon in his left foot. On Wednesday, he sat watching practice in sandals.
“He’s day to day,” D’Anton said.
Jordan Farmar is also sidelined, with a calf strain, and is unlikely to play Thursday night when the Lakers host the Sacramento Kings at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“He’s out too. We’re being careful,” D’Antoni said. “Doubtful for tomorrow, but he’s getting better. We’re just making sure he’s OK.”
Kobe Bryant returned from Germany after a nonsurgical knee procedure to alleviate inflammation. After practice, Bryant said he’s at least three weeks away from a return from his Achilles injury.
The rest of the team was available to practice, even Ryan Kelly, who is still working his way back from an April surgery.
“Ryan [is doing] almost everything; we’re not doing a lot,” D’Antoni said. “He’ll start scrimmaging probably in China. Probably makes his first action in China.... We’re trying to get him there.”
The Lakers play the Golden State Warriors on April 15 in Beijing and April 18 in Shanghai.
After waiving Dan Gadzuric and Eric Boateng earlier in the day, the Lakers are likely to bring their entire 17-man roster overseas.
“Today was kind of the day that you’d either cut or take them to China,” D’Antoni said.
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