The Los Angeles Lakers will finish their seven-game, 12-day road trip in the Big Apple on Sunday afternoon to take on the New York Knicks. The team is now 2-4 on the swing having lost their last three games. They will be facing an upstart Carmelo Anthony after the forward scored a career-high 62 points on Friday night against the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Lakers are coming off a disappointing 114-105 loss to the Orlando Magic in which they allowed Tobias Harris to have a career night scoring 28 points and grabbing 20 rebounds. Mike D’Antoni continues to insist on having Ryan Kelly start alongside Pau Gasol which opens up the red sea for points in the paint and offensive rebounds for other teams.
D’Antoni just can’t help himself. He feels spreading the court is the best way to maximize offensive potential. That’s all fine and dandy, but it ignores the defensive end, and it ignores rational logic. You have to be able to play to the strengths of your team. This is something D’Antoni can’t quite figure out. The best way to go about winning with this current roster is to abandon his “system” and start Jordan Hill and try to beat teams up in the paint.
His new favorite thing to do is point out how the Miami Heat have won two championships playing small ball. So, clearly his style of play is vindicated.
The fallacy of this thinking is the Heat have had no choice but to play that way because they haven’t had a real physical post presence down low. Their roster is perfectly fit to play using that approach.
I’m convinced the Lakers front office released Shawne Williams because D’Antoni continued to put him in the starting lineup as the designated stretch four — despite shooting 32.7 percent from downtown. It’s right out of the movie Moneyball when then Oakland A‘s manager Art Howe would not start Scott Hatteberg at first base, so general manager Billy Beane traded then starting first basemen Carlos Pena to give Howe no choice but play Hatteberg.
But unlike the movie, D’Antoni has found a new “stretch four” toy in Kelly. And while the rookie does some good things, he is not physically ready to play defense or rebound at the NBA level.
The comedy will continue on Sunday as the world will get to see the Kelly-Melo matchup at power forward on ABC.