Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said after Friday night’s loss to the Washington Wizards that the idea of the team winning a championship this season is “laughable.”
The Lakers blew an 18-point first-half lead at home in falling to the Wizards 103-100. The Lakers fell to 36-34 while the Wizards improved to just 25-43 on the season.
“This is a good team that just for whatever reason can’t collectively mentally get stimulated to (play hard) every time,” D’Antoni said via ESPN Los Angeles. “I told them today, we put our hands in (the huddle), and you guys have probably seen it, we say, ’Championship,’ and go out (on the floor). That’s laughable.
”Championship? You got to be kidding me. Nobody understands the importance of every possession offensively and defensively. Every time they got to come out with some kind of determination to be a good basketball team, and (until) then, we’re just, we’re fooling ourselves. Right now, that’s what we’re doing. We’re just making a ’sham-mockery’ out of it.“
The Lakers also got beat on Monday by the Phoenix Suns, another team with a poor record. Phoenix (23-47) has the worst record in the Western Conference.
”There’s no explanation for it,“ D’Antoni said. ”I can’t explain it, but every time we get up 16 (points), it’s like, ’Well, we’re really good and we don’t have to play hard,’ and we start messing with the game. You start messing with not moving the ball. You start messing with, ’I’m just going to go one-on-one every time.’ You start messing with the basketball gods, and they get you.“
The Lakers lead the Utah Jazz by 1 1/2 games for the eighth spot in the conference. They have lost three of their last five but Utah has dropped eight of its last 10.
”You would think sooner or later they’d get the message, but no,“ D’Antoni said. ”As soon as we get a little bit, like a 16-point lead or, ’Oh, we’re ahead one game of Utah; now it’s a breeze. Everybody says we’re in the playoffs, we’re one game ahead!’
Guard Kobe Bryant said the team gets overconfident.
“I think the game becomes really easy and you think you can score whenever you want to and get stops whenever you want to and then all of the sudden momentum swings,” Bryant said.
Point guard Steve Nash did not disagree with D’Antoni’s assessment of the team.
“Obviously the last thing you want to hear right now is that our effort wasn’t up to par, but if you look at the tape, I’m sure there’s plenty of examples where we just didn’t give the second effort, and that can be a killer,” Nash said.
The Lakers start a four-game road trip on Monday against the Golden State Warriors.