Mike D'Antoni makes Lakers debut

Updated: November 20, 2012, 11:57 PM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Mike D'Antoni made his debut on the sidelines as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets.

"I'm too psyched up and too ready to go," D'Antoni told reporters after shootaround Tuesday. "I'll get through this; it's no big deal."

D'Antoni sat out the Lakers' last two games since being introduced as the 24th coach in Lakers history last week as he was recovering from a recent knee replacement surgery.

The 2004-05 NBA Coach of the Year said he still has a "couple months" of rehabilitation remaining.

"But it's a lot better, the swelling's better," D'Antoni said.

The Lakers have a three-game road trip starting Wednesday in Sacramento.

"If I don't do it today, why do it tomorrow? And then we go on the road," D'Antoni said. "I don't want to miss too many games."

The 61-year-old D'Antoni had his mind set on coaching his first game Sunday against the Houston Rockets, but Lakers trainer Gary Vitti convinced him not to rush back.

"I avoided him today, so that's the reason I'm out there," D'Antoni joked. "He was right (Sunday), and I knew he was right. But this time, I know I'm right."

The Lakers are going to dust off Phil Jackson's old elevated chair for D'Antoni to sit in.

Said Dwight Howard: "We're just happy that he's going to be able to sit in the Phil chair tonight and coach."

D'Antoni said he expected to be cemented to his seat on the bench Tuesday night, adding that he would stand up "only because my leg is hurting me, not because of the game."

Lakers guard Steve Blake did not participate in shootaround and will not play Tuesday (abdominal strain). Darius Morris will start at point guard in his place as Steve Nash is still sidelined with a fractured fibula in his left leg.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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