Lakers coach: Discouraged? Move on

Updated: December 24, 2013, 10:17 AM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

PHOENIX -- Despite losing both legs of a two-game road trip through Golden State and Phoenix by a combined 46 points, Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni was defiant when a reporter suggested fans have become "discouraged" by the team's 13-15 start to the season.

"Why would I be discouraged?" D'Antoni said. "We're fighting with a bunch of good guys that played well before, and they'll play [well] again. If [the fans] are discouraged, then, you know, find another team to root for. I'm all right. We're not going to give up. Are you kidding me? Discouraged? That's not even fair to these guys."

[+] EnlargeLos Angeles Lakers
AP Photo/Ross D. FranklinLakers coach Mike D'Antoni says his team isn't going to give up, so if fans are discouraged they should "find another team to root for."

Asked about the morale in the locker room after the two-game dip away from Staples Center dropped L.A.'s road record to 6-9, D'Antoni said, "It's good. They're going to fight."

The Lakers were missing Kobe Bryant as well as their top three point guards in Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar against the Suns as they shot 37 percent from the field one game after connecting on just 32.5 percent of their shots against the Warriors.

"[Missing] the playmaking is a big deal, there's no doubt about it," D'Antoni said after L.A. mustered only 12 assists on its 30 field goals. "But again, we're going to be fine. I don't want to keep harping. I know we have excuses. We're not going to hang our heads, and we're going to go out and we're going to battle Wednesday [against the Miami Heat on Christmas Day], and we'll get this done."

L.A. won its first game after Bryant was diagnosed with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee, beating Minnesota on Friday at Staples in convincing fashion, but D'Antoni said he was not disheartened by how the Lakers performed against the Warriors and Suns after that.

"It's like, 'OK, we lost two road games,'" D'Antoni said. "We were 1-5 [on the road] at one time, right? It takes some adjusting. It takes some adjusting. We got to get somebody healthy. We'll be back. We're not going anywhere. We're going to fight, and we're going to try to stay above .500. We got a nice homestand coming up, and if anybody hangs their head, then they don't need to be on our bandwagon. We're going to fight, and we're going to be fine."

The Lakers got Pau Gasol (upper respiratory infection) back in the lineup Monday after he missed the Warriors game, but the big man still looked slowed against the Suns, playing just 20 minutes and collecting 10 points (on 4-for-12 shooting) and four rebounds before a cut above his right eye from bumping heads with Phoenix's Miles Plumlee ended his night prematurely.

"I'm not discouraged, but we got to step it up," Gasol said. "As a group, understand what we're doing out there and just give ourselves a chance. Somehow, on both ends of the floor, we got to make it hard for opponents. I think tonight, for the most part, we made it easy on them. They played the game they wanted to play. We had runs here and there, but overall, just not enough."

The Lakers could get Farmar back Tuesday if he passes a medical evaluation on his left hamstring tear, but Bryant, Nash (nerve root irritation) and Blake (torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow) are expected to be out for about another month.

"Energy and effort," Gasol said. "That's what can make up for the absences and injuries here. Just be all on the same page and get to every loose ball, box out, just fight the opponent."

Nick Young was one of the few Lakers to play well on the road trip, as he averaged 19.5 points in the two games and continued his streak of 14 consecutive games scoring in double figures off the bench. He was also his usual positive self after the Phoenix game.

"We're still confident in each other," Young said. "We're going to find our streak again and get hot, and teams are going to fall down when we're playing with energy. So, hopefully it's going to happen on Christmas. Santa is going to give us a good present."

However, he acknowledged the team needs to wrap its head around how to play the right way, even if it is undermanned, before it can unwrap any gifts.

"At times we feel like we all got to do it ourselves, so it's a lot of one-on-one, and if somebody [goes] one-on-one, [someone else] feels like, 'Next time, it's my turn,'" Young said. "We got to learn how to share the ball and keep the ball moving.

"It's tough. It's like a trickle-down effect. Somebody comes down and [does] two one-on-one plays in a row, I'm like, 'Man, it's my turn now.' So, you got to limit that. Share the ball. Throw the ball up [the court]. Get some easy baskets. Once you get the easy ones, the confidence gets going."

And Young is never one to lack confidence.

"We ain't got no point guards out there. Pau was out one game, he's still battling a cold," Young said. "You know, we got a lot of odds against us. We just got to somehow fight them odds and beat them odds and go out there and play for each other, really."

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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