Mike D’Antoni is fed up with Lakers inconsistent play and it boiled over after a 103-100 loss to the lowly Washington Wizards.
D’Antoni quotes were as raw and to the point as you’ll ever hear from a coach.
“What happened was we didn’t play hard enough. We think we can just figure things out and just point. I mean, Trevor Ariza‘s got 12 attempts at three and he’s wide open. That’s inexcusable and it’s just a matter of lapses or gambling or ‘I’m not gonna play hard tonight because we’re just gonna outscore them….’
Losing an 18 point lead and getting outscored 62-43 in the 2nd half by one of the worst teams in the league would infuriate any coach. And that was only the start of a legit diatribe.
"There's no explanation for it," D'Antoni said. "I can't explain it, but every time we get up 16 [points], it's like, 'Well, we're really good and we don't have to play hard,' and we start messing with the game. You start messing with not moving the ball. You start messing with, 'I'm just going to go one-on-one every time.' You start messing with the basketball gods, and they get you."
Sadly, this has been indicative of the Lakers all season. It appears, at times, that they feel they’re going to win games just because of who they are, rather than what they do.
"That ball will roll around and go in for [the opponent] and it will roll around and go out for us because we're messing with the game. If we don't change that, obviously we won't make the playoffs, but if we do, we'll get blown out in the playoffs. You can't be a fairly good team or even a good team without passing the basketball, without understanding what we're doing defensively and honing in and doing it. You can't do it. You can't do it. It's impossible."
In spite of losses in three of their last five capped off by the embarrassment on their home court Friday night, Lakers are still 1.5 games over Utah for the 8th seed.
"You would think sooner or later they'd get the message, but no," D'Antoni said. "As soon as we get a little bit, like a 16-point lead or, 'Oh, we're ahead one game of Utah; now it's a breeze. Everybody says we're in the playoffs, we're one game ahead!'
"You can't mess with a game as you can't mess with a season as you can't mess with a schedule. You got to go out, you got to beat Phoenix, you got to beat Atlanta, you got to beat these teams. You got to come ready to play. We don't all the time, and we might come ready, but by halftime it might be gone. Or we might come out at halftime and be OK, and then the fourth quarter it's gone. Somewhere somebody is going to have to say, 'Enough is enough and let's play.' Every possession. But no. We don't. We don't."
I’m curious to see if these quotes will be the kick in the rear the Lakers need to propel themselves toward a great playoff run or is this the final nail in the coffin? Because now the coach has laid down the gauntlet for all the world to see. There are only two options from here. You can choose to rise to the occassion or fold under the pressure.
Whichever way the Lakers go will be a major story and I can't wait to see the drama unfold.