LOS ANGELES — Before Mike D’Antoni made his Los Angeles Lakers bench debut Tuesday night, he said that whatever happened against the Brooklyn Nets, he would have to take it sitting down because he was still in pain following recent knee-replacement surgery.
By the third quarter of the Lakers’ 95-90 victory at Staples Center, D’Antoni was up and barking at the officials several times. Apparently, what he was seeing on the court was more painful than what he was feeling in his knee.
In the end, after Deron Williams missed a potential game-tying three-point shot and Kobe Bryant hit a pair of free throws with two-tenths of a second left, D’Antoni and the crowd were on their feet and smiling to celebrate the Lakers’ ninth straight victory over the Nets (6-3).
“I’m really happy to get a win," D’Antoni said, joking that he had about 15 minutes until his pain-killing medication wore off.
“It was great to be out there and great to be with the guys. That’s what you coach for."
D’Antoni’s first game in full command was also the Lakers’ last of a 5-1 homestand. They were fortunate to have a relatively soft schedule during their transition from Mike Brown to interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff and, finally, to D’Antoni, but Tuesday’s game also began a stretch of four in five nights that will include the first real trip of the season for the Lakers (6-5).
Dwight Howard had 23 points despite hitting only seven of 19 free throws, part of a poor 19-for-37 team performance. Howard also pulled down 15 rebounds and was credited with four blocks. Bryant finished with 25 points. Brooklyn was led by Brook Lopez’s 23 points and Williams’ 22.
Unlike their previous two games against Phoenix and Houston, both relatively easy wins, the Lakers had to play some defense Tuesday and managed pretty well. They also cut down on their turnovers, finishing with 11.
“They shot 31 percent in the second half and we held them to 33 points. That’s a good offensive team," D’Antoni said of the Nets, who brought a 6-2 record, second-best in the East, into Tuesday’s game.
“We weren’t clicking offensively and we didn’t play real well overall but good (in) spots and especially a win against a team that’s hot — they’d won five in a row-to outplay them, that means something."
Also on Tuesday:
NEW ORLEANS — Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points and New York extended undermanned New Orleans’ losing streak to four games.
PHILADELPHIA — Jason Richardson scored six of his 21 points late in the fourth quarter, Nick Young had 23 off the bench and the 76ers rallied to beat Toronto.