Reaction from ‘Melo, Lakers players to D’Antoni hiring

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And the reactions are pouring in to the Lakers hiring of Mike D’Antoni… except from Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. You know, the two guys you most want to hear from.

Neither of them spoke to the media today. Nash because he got treatment on his injured leg and left the Lakers facilities before media was let into team practice.

But Kobe had a way better excuse — he was using his private helicopter to take Steve Blake to a specialist in Orange County to get an ultrasound on Blake’s strained abdomen. Seriously. Blake was riding shotgun in Kobe’s copter.

So how about some other guys…

Carmelo Anthony — the Knick that was the thorn in D’Antoni’s side — said all the politically correct things about D’Antoni to ESPNNewYork.com.

“I knew he was trying to take some time off and get healthy and things like that,” he said. “I was with him this summer. He didn’t really know what was going to happen as far as getting a job this year or next year.

“Obviously it worked out this summer with him and Kobe. Maybe they had something under the table, I don’t know. But it’ll be fun. I know Kobe’s excited about that, so we’ll see what happens.”

As for the Lakers who did speak to the media it was all puppy dogs and rainbows. Everybody was happy. Not sure what else you expect — if you want minutes you don’t slam the coach on the way in the door.

Dwight Howard addressed the defensive concerns. (via the Lakers twitter account):

“You’ve got guys on this team that love to play D & he’s an offensive coach. We’ll find a balance… it’ll be great.”

Antawn Jamison spoke on the Phil vs. D’Antoni talk.

“You can’t go wrong either way. The fans wanted Phil. But Mike has a good resume, a great offense and he will let us play freely,”

Metta World Peace talked three-pointers (after going 4-of-8 from deep Sunday against the Kings. He also said he’d lock down the defense with Howard.

“I think it’s a great system. Lotta open 3s.”

Finally, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak also released another statement on how the team came to its decision.

“After speaking with several excellent and well-respected coaching candidates, Dr. Buss, Jim and I all agreed that Mike (D’Antoni) was the right person at this time to lead the Lakers forward. Knowing his style of play and given the current make-up of our roster, we feel Mike is a great fit, are excited to have him as our next head coach.”

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.

Take a look back at just how great Shaq was with the Lakers (VIDEO)

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Shaquille O’Neal was as dominant a force as the NBA has ever seen.

His peak years came with the Lakers, when paired with Kobe Bryant one the court — and Phil Jackson manipulating both of them — they won three titles (and arguably would have had more if they stayed together). Those Lakers teams were one of the NBA’s great teams.

Friday night, the Lakers unveil Shaq’s statue at Staples Center. Take a look back at some of Shaq’s Lakers highlights.