Sunday, March 24, 2013
Updated: March 25, 1:02 PM ET
Mike D'Antoni: No one player at fault
By Dave McMenamin
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Speaking to the media for the first time since eviscerating his team in a classic postgame rant following a loss to the lowly Washington Wizards, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni wanted to be clear that he wasn't singling out any one player.
"Am I talking about Kobe (Bryant)?" D'Antoni said following practice Sunday. "I'm talking about Kobe, I'm talking about me, I'm talking about Dwight (Howard), I'm talking about Steve Nash, I'm talking about everybody. Now, to say one is more guilty than the other? No. It doesn't really matter. It's, 'The Lakers screwed up.' And the Lakers are going to go forward and try to fix it."
The Lakers blew an 18-point lead in their 103-100 loss to the Wizards, with Bryant shooting just 4-for-10 in the fourth quarter with zero assists while his primary man on defense, Trevor Ariza, scored a game-high 25 points on 7-for-12 shooting from 3.
Bryant acknowledged his poor performance, tweeting, "When ur game take a s*i* . Flush it. Get up and move on #mambaism."
However, D'Antoni spread the blame all around, pointing to L.A.'s 17 turnovers leading to 21 points for the Wizards -- Bryant had six of them -- and not making the "easy play" as a team.
"We just lost it mentally," D'Antoni said. "We started to gamble. We wanted to knock them out with kind of home run shots, like, 'I'll just try to steal it.' We weren't very solid. It's tough. It's a tough loss to swallow. It was not good. Everybody is complicit. Everybody had a hand in it. But we'll pick up the pieces."
D'Antoni agreed with a reporter who characterized him as "livid" after the Wizards game.
"You got so much adrenaline going through you that it's tough not to be livid after a loss like that," D'Antoni said. "It's disappointing. But the clear thing is, I'm mad at myself, I'm mad at the coaches, I'm mad at the players, we're all mad and we all have to do a better job and we all have to guard against things like that."
Was his message received?
"You try to pick spots (to get angry) because you can't just be a mad man the whole time," D'Antoni said. "Sometimes adrenaline gets to you and gets a little bit of the best of you, but at the same time players have to know that, 'Hey, we just messed up royally' -- coaches and the players (have to know that) -- and hopefully the message gets through. I think it does because these are good guys. They knew without me getting mad."
If there was any hangover effect from D'Antoni's scathing remarks, it was not readily apparent Sunday. Howard said he hadn't heard them because he doesn't watch television. When a reporter recapped what D'Antoni said, Howard simply blinked his eyes and said, "OK."
"That game is over with," Howard said. "There's no need to look back at it. We know we made a lot of mistakes, but we can't dwell on our mistakes. We talk about them and we move forward and try not to make them again. I'm not going to keep dwelling on that loss. As disappointing as it was, we got a chance to make it up (Monday)."
D'Antoni said the Lakers had a "very spirited" practice after having the day off Saturday. They begin a four-game road trip Monday against the Golden State Warriors, who are currently the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoff standings, 3½ games ahead of the eighth-seeded Lakers with 12 games remaining in the regular season.
D'Antoni said last week L.A.'s goal should be to catch the Warriors in the standings, but after two straight losses to Phoenix and Washington, how realistic is that?
"That would be tough now," D'Antoni said. "I think it's still possible. As long as it's mathematical, it's possible. If we just win all our games, then it's possible. But, again, you got to be a little realistic. Will it be hard? Yes. And, will I be happy with (the eighth seed)? Yes. I'll be happy getting in the playoffs. I don't care where it is right now."
After D'Antoni said on Friday it was "laughable" that his 36-34 Lakers team was breaking its huddles by saying "championship," what did his squad shout at the end of practice Sunday?
"Probably the same old stuff we've been saying," D'Antoni said with a chuckle. "Whether it meant a little more, I don't know. We're not backing off. We're going (for the championship)."