The Mike D'Antoni era is here, but he won't be on the bench Friday night when his Los Angeles Lakers host the Phoenix Suns at the Staples Center.
D'Antoni was introduced as the new Lakers' coach on Thursday, but indicated he won't be coaching on Friday night. D'Antoni, who is recovering from knee surgery, hinted he would debut Sunday versus the Houston Rockets.
He's got some work to do, and not much time to do it.
"The work we're normally doing in practice now, we're doing that in September," said D'Antoni. "We've got a lot of ground to catch up. But the good part is they're great players, so they catch up pretty quick."
D'Antoni was brought in for his offensive prowess and the Lakers need some help on that front. They rank 20th in the NBA in scoring despite having future Hall of Famers Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.
Nash will be especially key when he returns from a leg injury. Nash won two MVP awards running D'Antoni's high-octane offensive system. Steve Blake, who started in Nash's place, is questionable against the Suns with a strained abdominal muscle.
Since Mike Brown was dismissed one week ago, the Lakers are 2-1 under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff. They defeated the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, but dropped a heartbreaker Tuesday night when the San Antonio Spurs pulled out a two-point victory.
Under Bickerstaff, the Lakers held those three opponents to an average of 83.6 ppg.
The Suns head to L.A. after a 112-106 overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls at home on Wednesday.
Phoenix, which still plays essentially the system of former coach D'Antoni under Alvin Gentry, is seventh in the NBA in team scoring, but second from the bottom in holding opponents.
The Suns have trailed by 10 points or more in all five home games this season, but managed a 3-2 mark. In fact, the Suns have fallen double-digits behind in all but one game this season.
"It's been happening to us every game, it's very difficult to play that way," said forward Luis Scola. "If we put ourselves in the situation and get down 19, 20, and 16 every game, it's very difficult to win games. You're going to come back eventually every once and awhile but you are going to lose most of those games."
The Suns were led in scoring and assists by Goran Dragic and in rebounds and blocks by Marcin Gortat, who shares the lead league in blocks per game with the Oklahoma City Thunder's Serge Ibaka. Phoenix may be without the services of forward Markieff Morris due to a bruised lower back.
The Suns have won their last two against the Lakers for the first time since the 2006-07 season. But Phoenix is 0-3 in their last three in the City of Angels.