Mike D'Antoni monitoring energy

Updated: November 18, 2012, 9:23 AM ET
By Brian Kamenetzky | Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- After spending the past few days either on crutches or receiving treatment in the training room, new Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni hopes finally to get on the bench Sunday and coach his new team as the Lakers host the Rockets.

"I think (I will)," said D'Antoni, who had knee-replacement surgery recently. "Unless I wake up too tired. I'm getting there. It's getting a lot better."

D'Antoni met the media without aid of a crutch, but isn't quite ready to give it up.

"It's close by," he said with a laugh. "I've just got to get well and healthy enough, and strong enough. My thing is energy. My knee is OK. I just have to get my energy up to where it should be."

The Lakers surrendered 84 points on 52.8 percent shooting by the Suns through the first 36 minutes of Friday night's game before clamping down in the fourth quarter and pulling away. Asked what went wrong, D'Antoni, whose teams have been frequently criticized for the quality of their defensive play, smiled.

"My coaching already took over," he said jokingly.

"I thought we were a little tired. I didn't think we were aggressive early. The second half was a lot better," D'Antoni said. "It's one of those deals where guys just tightened up and did a little bit better. They were a little more conscientious and put a little more energy into it. But when everything is new and you're thinking about what you're supposed to do instead of playing, things happen like that."

Offensively, the Lakers posted their highest point total of the season. Still, D'Antoni indicated things would get better once point guards Steve Nash and Steve Blake return to the lineup.

Nash has been out since suffering a small fracture of his left fibula Oct. 31 against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Lakers announced Friday he would miss at least another week. Blake, who started five games in Nash's absence, has missed the past two games with a lower-abdominal strain. Blake didn't practice Saturday, and his status for Sunday's game remains in question.

Darius Morris has started the past two games at point guard, averaging 3.0 points and 3.5 assists. Veteran Chris Duhon, who played for D'Antoni in New York, has served as Morris' backup.

Brian Kamenetzky covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

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