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Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012

Magic slams D'Antoni's floor strategy for Lakers

AP

LOS ANGELES — Magic Johnson questioned new coach Mike D'Antoni's system with the slumping Los Angeles Lakers, saying "it doesn't fit the talent the Lakers have."

News photo
Under fire: Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni reacts during Los Angeles' 100-94 loss to the Cavaliers on Tuesday. AP

The Lakers (9-12) fell to 4-8 in the 12 games since D'Antoni took over from the fired Mike Brown with a 100-94 loss to the Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

"I'm not down on him yet as a coach," Johnson said, although he criticized D'Antoni's plan to make the Lakers into a running team.

"You can't run with these guys," he said. "There's one guy who can get up and down the court and that's Kobe (Bryant). You've got to take that ball inside. That's how you win games."

Johnson said the Lakers have two of the best 7-footers in the NBA in Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, and the offense should revolve around Gasol, who missed his fifth straight game Tuesday with tendinitis in his knees.

Johnson called Gasol "the best passing big man in the NBA."

"His game is catch it on the low block and face his man," the former Lakers star said. "The first question should've been, 'Where do you like it because that's where I'm going to give it to you.' "

When it comes to the Lakers' dismal defense, Johnson agrees with D'Antoni and Bryant.

"We can score points but the defense is breaking down," he said. "We have to correct our defense. Every night guys have to come with passion and urgency."

Johnson said he thinks that once Gasol starts playing well, the Lakers will follow suit.

"This is one of the most challenging stretches of my 17 years, and the most baffling, too," a puzzled Bryant said after losing to the Cavs. "We have the talent and personnel to do it, but we're not, and it's baffling. It's extremely frustrating.

"It doesn't make any sense. We're still finding ways to lose games."



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