- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- After a night's rest to clear his head, Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni backtracked from comments he made following a 117-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Monday, when he suggested that fans who are discouraged by the Lakers this season should "find another team to root for."
"I was an idiot last night," D'Antoni said after a light practice Tuesday in advance of the Lakers' Christmas Day showdown with the Miami Heat. "I was out of my mind. I was ticked off. We didn't play well and I said some stuff I shouldn't have. It was stupid. That's me, I just made a mistake."
"To me, the meaning is this: We got a team that needs to overachieve and we have a lot of injuries and we're in a tough state right now," said D'Antoni, referring to the Lakers losing six of their past nine games, including two straight by a combined 46 points. "So, we need everybody to be pulling with us and it's going to take the whole village to get this done. That was the meaning. I just said it wrong and it came out wrong because I was agitated. But I apologize, and we'll move on. But we need everybody to be behind these guys. They're going to play as hard as they can play."
That will start Wednesday when the Lakers and Heat play on Christmas for the fifth time in their franchises' history (three times when Shaquille O'Neal played for Miami and the other coming in 2010, in the first Christmas game since LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined the Heat).
Miami (21-6) enters Wednesday having won five games in a row and seven of their past eight. James is averaging 25.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.6 assists while shooting 59.9 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from 3-point range.
"He's playing at a very, very high level," D'Antoni said of James, who will be defended by Wes Johnson. "He gets better every year, which is scary. You try to give him his outside shot, now he's shooting 40 percent from 3s, but that's what you kind of want him to do. You don't want him to get to the rim. You don't want to foul him. If you can eliminate that, good luck, but you try to do that and you try to contain as much as you can."
L.A. has performed well in a couple of marquee games this season, notably winning their opening night matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers, and also downing the Houston Rockets on the road in their first reunion game with Dwight Howard.
Can they come up big again?
"We got to rise to the occasion," D'Antoni said. "That's another chance to try to do that."
Regardless of the lull the Lakers have found themselves in or the result of their game against the Heat might have, D'Antoni stayed bullish about his team.
"I'm proud because of the way their attitude [stays upbeat] and the way they approach each game," D'Antoni said. "They've gotten tired lately. Our energy has sagged because of guys logging heavy minutes. We just got to keep them up, keep them focused and keep them believing and see if we can get this done. And I think we can."
Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni backtracked from comments he made following the team’s 117-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Monday, when he suggested that fans who are discouraged by the Lakers this season should “find another team to root for.”