For the first time all season, Mike D’Antoni just sat on his chair with literally nothing to grumble about. Normally, D’Antoni is up and down the sidelines shouting at his players “Let’s go! C’mon let’s go”, while alternating gestures of clapping and circling his finger rhythmically. But something funny happened — his grand plan of small ball and rapid-fire shooting actually started working in unprecedented form.
The Los Angeles Lakers scored 51 points in the third quarter (a franchise record) on Tuesday night in a classic display of ball movement en route to a 127-96 win over the New York Knicks. At the start of the fourth quarter, he looked like a little kid on the bench that finally got his way after throwing a huge tantrum. It was as if he was finally getting his breathing to calm down from a season’s worth of frustration, along with his blood pressure.
It must have been a glorious moment for D’Antoni to break the Lakers’ all-time points in a quarter record knowing he stuck it in the face of all of the former Lakers greats who have criticized his style over the past two years. You know he was thinking, “Take that Magic Johnson, your Showtime Lakers never scored 51 in a quarter, chew on that one!”
One thing about D’Antoni is that he is confident, and nobody will ever get him to revert from his beliefs on how to coach. So every time the Lakers put up on an offensive display en route to victory (which is almost always against bad teams who don’t play defense), it validates to him that everyone else was wrong, and that he was right.
The reality of the situation is that his style of play is called “random basketball”, where you are just pumping up shots and allowing the other team to do the same on the other end. It leads to 50-50 results. Anyone familiar with math and can tell you that trying to outscore your opponent is a losing battle. However, on this night, D’Antoni was on the right end of randomness, and I’m sure he is beating his chest.