In a back and forth game, the Los Angeles Lakers were able to pull off the tremendous upset by defeating the Portland Trail Blazers on their home court, 107-106. Pau Gasol led the way for Los Angeles dropping 22 points on 10-for-20 shooting, also adding nine rebounds in the effort. It was obviously a fantastic game from Gasol, however, the Lakers’ frontcourt gave up monster games to Robin Lopez, Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge. The trio combined for 57 points and 37 rebounds — absolutely unacceptable numbers from a Lakers’ standpoint.
It is no secret that Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni loves to play favorites no matter who the player. He would undoubtedly play Steve Nash over anybody, nerve root damage and all, but in this case the victims were once again big men Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman. Even with the aforementioned 37 rebounds grabbed by Portland’s frontcourt, D’Antoni refused to give any minutes to Hill or Kaman. Instead Robert Sacre, once again, was granted their minutes.
Now, don’t get me wrong; Sacre is a decent player and totally deserves his spot on an NBA roster. Consistently receiving playing time over the better players has to raise questions as to why a coach would do such a thing. In basketball, the best five players must be on the court at all times. Personal matters aside, the coach is responsible for putting together the appropriate lineup game in and game out. Hill and Kaman do not have to be the starters by any means, but at the very least giving them some minutes off of the bench is necessary if the team plans on winning once in a while.
Hill has had the best season of his entire NBA career. He is averaging eight points and seven rebounds in limited minutes, including two 20-point and 10-rebound efforts this season. Certainly, one would believe that performances such as the latter would earn a player more than a DNP, but with D’Antoni as a coach, one must learn not to make any assumptions. Additionally, Kaman is in the same boat as Hill. He too has looked outstanding at times and again nothing from D’Antoni. Breakout performances seem to be of no attention to the coach as he continues play small-ball and continues to give up career games to opposing frontcourts. It just makes no sense whatsoever.
Hopefully management takes notice of these antics and finally pulls the trigger on firing D’Antoni. Los Angeles will never find success with such inconsistent lineups. Also, the franchise will most likely lose a quality upcoming player in Hill this offseason.