Mike D’Antoni led the Lakers through his first practice as the team’s new head coach on Thursday, and did so on crutches after undergoing knee surgery earlier this month.
There were plenty of interesting tidbits that came out of his first press conference with the media — and in fact, we have a complete breakdown of that here. But one of the more pressing questions was whether or not D’Antoni would make his Lakers debut on Friday against the Phoenix Suns, his former team where he achieved so much success while coaching Steve Nash during his two MVP Seasons.
Thankfully for Suns fans, the answer appears to be no. D’Antoni is expected to coach his first game for the Lakers on Sunday at Staples Center when the team faces James Harden and the Houston Rockets.
Bernie Bickerstaff would coach the team for the fourth time in the interim phase, and has a 2-1 record with wins over the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings. The one loss came in heartbreaking fashion at the hands of Danny Green and the San Antonio Spurs.
Steve Nash will also miss the first meeting against his former team, due to the non-displaced leg fracture that has kept him out of action for the past two weeks. Nash is listed as day-to-day, with no timetable set for his return. But there is a chance he could be back Sunday in time for D’Antoni’s first game in Los Angeles.
Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance
NEW YORK (AP)— The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.
Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.
NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.
Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling
This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.
After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverleyin his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.
Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).
Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.
LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim