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Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012

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Tower of power: Lakers center Dwight Howard attempts a shot during Los Angeles' victory over the Kings on Sunday. AP

Lakers hire D'Antoni as new coach

AP

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Mike D'Antoni, signing the former coach of the Suns and Knicks to a four-year contract to replace Mike Brown.

The Lakers and D'Antoni's agent, Warren LeGarie, confirmed the deal late Sunday night, two days after the Lakers fired Brown five games into the season.

D'Antoni got the high-profile job running the 16-time NBA champions after negotiations broke down with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson. The 11-time NBA champion coach spoke to the club's top brass Saturday about a return.

Lakers owners Jerry and Jim Buss instead went with D'Antoni, who spent five seasons coaching Lakers point guard Steve Nash in Phoenix. Nash won two MVP awards while running D'Antoni's signature up-tempo offense, and they won at least 54 games in each of D'Antoni's last four seasons.

D'Antoni then coached New York for the past four seasons, resigning last March after a largely unsuccessful tenure featuring just one playoff appearance and no postseason victories.

Nash and Kobe Bryant both expressed enthusiasm about the prospect of playing for D'Antoni, although Bryant eagerly campaigned for a third stint for Jackson on the Lakers' bench. Bryant idolized D'Antoni while growing up in Italy, where D'Antoni was a star player in the Italian League.

D'Antoni underwent knee replacement surgery earlier this month and could be limited in his mobility and travel for the first few weeks of his tenure in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Times first reported D'Antoni's hiring, several hours after the Lakers beat Sacramento 103-90 for their second straight win under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff.

The Lakers have improved to 3-4 after following up their winless preseason with four losses in their first five regular-season games, the club's worst start since 1993.

Brown was fired after the Lakers stumbled badly out of the gate, struggling to learn his Princeton-inflected offense and playing mediocre defense.

D'Antoni has a reputation as an offensive-minded coach, although his NBA teams typically have played fairly solid defense, statistically speaking.

The Lakers' next game is Tuesday night against San Antonio. Phoenix visits Staples Center on Friday.

Nets 82, Magic 74

In New York, Brook Lopez scored 20 points, Kris Humphries added 14 points and 21 rebounds, and Brooklyn beat Orlando to complete a home-and-home sweep.

Deron Williams finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and a couple key plays down the stretch after what appeared to be another blowout turned into a close game. The Nets beat the Magic 107-68 at Orlando on Friday and jumped out to an early 20-point lead in this one.

But after losing a 22-point lead at home against Minnesota on Monday, Brooklyn almost coughed up another huge cushion, letting Orlando get within five in the final 2 minutes.

Grizzlies 104, Heat 86

In Memphis, reserve Wayne Ellington had career bests with seven 3-pointers and 25 points, leading the Grizzlies to their fifth straight win and the best start in franchise history.

Memphis (5-1) snapped Miami's four-game winning streak while topping its 4-1 start in 2000-01 — the franchise's last season in Vancouver. The Grizzlies also extended their own team-record home winning streak to 14 dating to last season.

Clippers 89, Hawks 76

In Los Angeles, Blake Griffin scored 16 points, and Chris Paul had 15 points and eight assists.

Thunder 106, Cavaliers 91

In Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook banked in a half-court shot during a rough-and-tumble 27-point outing and Kevin Durant added 26 points.

Kyrie Irving led the Cavs with 20 points, Alonzo Gee had 18 points and Daniel Gibson.



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