by Craig Kwasniewski
They say it's hard to change a franchise mired for years from the culture of losing to winning but Mike D'Antoni has done just that in NYC in literally weeks. He's taken the same roster that Isiah Thomas failed miserably with and not only got them to play hard but they're very competitive. And simply for changing attitudes and returning hope to MSG D'Antoni deserves MAJOR run at coach of the year. (Also because the award is never given to consistent winners like Phil Jackson, Greg Popovich and especially Jerry Sloan because the media embraces the rags to riches or the we-never-expected-this stories... which completely diminishes the award, but I digress...) Give it to D'Antoni for simply re-injecting life into MSG and for banishing the malcontents from the Thomas era (more on that later).
Anyway here are a few other thoughts from the Lakers 116-114 win over New York from my seat high up in Section 316:
I love when the Knicks come to town! Spike Lee, Clyde Frazier, NY Media and especially the most boisterous fans win or lose (sorry Boston but you bailed on the C's from 1992 to 2008... Bandwagoners!!!), when the Knicks come to town there's a special buzz in the arena. No matter the record the game is always close and the NY fans are quick to run smack if they even sniff a lead. This always wakes up the somber Lakers fans who fire back a rousing "New York Sucks!" chant. This is my 14th Lakers-Knicks game in a row and not one has disappointed. From Kurt Thomas throwing down Dennis Rodman in 1999 to Chris Childs and Kobe brawling in 2000 to Allan Houston dropping 53 in 2003, the game never disappoints.
Andrew Bynum is tired??? Maybe he's experiencing an upper respiratory infection or he's still jet lagged from being raised on the east coast or he's hitting the LA clubs on an all-night drinking/hookering bender all I know is that Drew looked gassed in the first half. The absolute worst moment was when Nate Robinson got a backdoor alley oop in right behind Bynum. You mean to tell me that 5'9" Nate Robinson out jumped 7'0" Andrew Bynum for a tip in? Let's do some math here: 69 inches versus 84 inches! How the hell is a 21 year old getting gassed in the first half? Does his workout guru in Atlanta not believe in running a few wind sprints? Come on Drew you starting to come off as Benoit Benjamin.
Lakers fell for the SSOL trap. You can’t get sucked into matching the SSOL (7 Seconds or Less, I’m tired of writing it out) offense by jacking threes early in the shot clock.... which the Lakers did for the first 44 minutes of the game. This ain’t brain surgery! Just like the 2006 PHX-LAL series, all you need to do is slow the pace and pound it inside. Trevor Ariza was the biggest culprit shooting 1-6 from beyond the arc in only 25 minutes. This plays into SSOL's hands. Long shot = long miss = quick fast break = uptempo pace which is exactly what the Knicks want you to do.
Starbury in da hizzie! I didn't make this the main story here just because that's exactly what Marbury was trying to do by stalking the Knicks from courtside last night. Though I was hoping he'd break out one of those cheap knock off Marbury #3 jerseys or at least a Kobe jersey. And the Lakers totally blew it by not putting a split screen of him and D'Antoni on for the kiss me cam. But really the whole Marbury thing needs to go away... and all the Knicks have to do is make an official announcement that they aren't trading or playing him for the rest of the season. Just let him as his $21 million fade away.