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.
Khris Middleton has more expectations and more pressure on him after a breakout season in Milwaukee, followed by him getting him PAID this summer.
Well, he looked pretty good on this play against the Bulls, making the steal then throwing down despite Jimmy Butler‘s efforts to stop him.
Middleton finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting for the Bucks. However, Butler had the last laugh as he went off for 23 points on 12 shots and led the Bulls to the (meaningless) preseason win.
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.