Saturday, November 2, 2013
Hill to get a look as D'Antoni shuffles rotation
By Dave McMenamin
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers' practice facility was devoid of its stars Saturday, as Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol -- along with assistant coach Kurt Rambis and longtime trainer Gary Vitti -- were excused to attend a memorial service for former Lakers coach Bill Sharman.
With his All-Stars away for the day, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni focused on the rest of his rotation that he is trying to sort out three games into the season.
Jordan Hill has been productive in limited minutes but could soon see his role expand.
One player that has D'Antoni reconsidering his role for is Jordan Hill.
"That would be the obvious, 'Yeah,'" D'Antoni said of Hill, who sat the first three quarters of L.A.'s 91-85 loss to San Antonio on Friday and then filled up with box score with five points, four rebounds (three offensive) and an assist, all in the fourth quarter.
"It’s not my decision how many minutes I get, so I just want to go out there and produce when I’m out there with those minutes," said Hill, who is averaging 6.3 points on 69.2 percent shooting and 6.3 rebounds per game this season in just 14.0 minutes per game.
The bulk of those boards have come on the offensive glass. Hill's 4.0 offensive boards per game ties him for 10th-most in the league so far this season, but he's one of only three players on that list to average less than 20 minutes per game.
"When a shot goes off, I can know if it’s going long or know if it’s going short, so I just try to bully my man to that position before he gets to it," Hill said. "I may not look too strong, but I’m very strong when we’re down there, so I can definitely get there."
Hill, who spent the summer honing his jump shot to try to fill the stretch 4 role in D'Antoni's system, said he has scrapped that plan and gone back to the basics.
"I’m going to try to focus on what I do best – rebounding, putbacks, defending, running the floor – and if my shot is open, I’m going to take it," said Hill, who has attempted only one jumper outside of 16 feet so far this season (he made it, banking it in against the Clippers).
"Whenever I feel like it’s a good shot for me, I’m going to take it, but I’m not going to focus on that mainly," Hill said. "We got shooters out there, I know Pau, (Chris) Kaman can shoot, Wesley (Johnson), (Shawne Williams). So, I’ll just do the tough guy role, basically."
Xavier Henry also played a pretty good tough guy against the Spurs, making two free throws after suffering a two-inch laceration on his forehead that required nine stitches.
"I still have a headache right now," Henry said, adding that he expects to have the stitches removed in 10 days. "No concussion. I’m all right."
The Lakers were doing all right on Friday until Henry got injured, when their 15-point lead with 8:32 to go in the second quarter was whittled down to just two at the 5:00 mark.
"It seemed like for whatever reason, when 'X' (Henry) went down it took the air out of our sails," D'Antoni said. "I don’t know if that was because X went down, the stoppage or what. They just tightened up."
Henry said that the team's film study on Saturday showed what built them the lead.
"We made a lot of plays just off of hustle plays, and they were missing shots and we were playing tough defense," said Henry, who is taking pain medication for the straight-line cut he has going from the middle of his hairline down his forehead. "I think that’s what really had us out in front in the game."
"He’s got an 'I' up there," D'Antoni joked about Henry's scar. "He should have an 'X,' but he’s all right."
His mood, and the mood of the players in his locker room, won't be so light if he cannot figure out the rotation soon.
"We got a lot of guys, and that’s what happens when you play a lot of guys, there’s a lot of guys unhappy," D'Antoni said. "I might have to get to the point where two of them are ticked off at me and eight of them love me."
D'Antoni believes that the players will show who belongs on the court and who doesn't.
"They’re kind of playing their spots and they’re all playing pretty good so it’s kind of tough to find minutes for all of them," D'Antoni said. "We’ll make a decision here. The better decision, hopefully. It’s too early to say. They compete for minutes, and we’ll see which team wins."