The Mike D'Antoni debut was a rousing success in Los Angeles Tuesday night.
Their 95-90 win over the Brooklyn Nets jumped the Lakers over .500 and sets them up for a possible fourth win a row Wednesday night when they head to California's capital to take on the Sacramento Kings.
"Well first of all it is great to be out there. Great to be with the guys and that's what you coach for," said D'Antoni, who hadn't coached since he was on the New York Knicks sideline last season. "They are a good group that wants to win, and when you do that, it's very good."
D'Antoni's free-flowing offensive style wasn't on full display Tuesday night. The Lakers went over the 100-point mark in their previous two games, but the 95 was enough to beat a good Nets team.
Kobe Bryant led the way with 25 points, but double-doubles from both Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, coupled with 17 from Metta World Peace, got the Lakers over .500 for the first time all season.
If you can believe it with a D'Antoni-led team, the key for the Lakers on Tuesday was defense. The Nets scored just 33 points in the second half and shot 31 percent from the field in the final two frames.
Now it's off to Sacramento to see if this Lakers defense holds up.
The Kings are in free-fall. They've lost five in a row and four of those setbacks came in Sacramento. The Kings score the fifth-fewest points in the NBA and allow the eighth-most.
The Kings fell to the Nets 99-90 on Sunday. Andray Blatche made his first 10 field-goal attempts and led six Nets in double-figures with 22.
The supposed future of the Kings, DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans, had good nights against Brooklyn. They combined for 50 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, three steals and three turnovers.
The problem for the Kings was, the other nine players who saw action on Sunday, combined for 10 fewer points.
Head coach Keith Smart went to a new starting lineup Sunday with Aaron Brooks and John Salmons in for Isaiah Thomas and James Johnson. The Kings played well early with the new lineup, but a 33-22 disadvantage in the second quarter did them in.
The Lakers, who start a three-game road trip Wednesday night, beat the Kings, 103-90 on Nov. 11. Los Angeles has lost its last two in Sacramento, but won the five before this little Sacramento-based losing streak.