The NBA season isn’t 3 games old, and already there’s a Pacific Division Pissing Match. Lefty politics aside, there’s not a ton of love lost between Lakers coach Phil Jackson and his Phoenix counterpart Mike D’Antoni (above), as the LA Times’ Mike Bresnahan explains.
The latest tiff came Friday in the waning minutes of the Lakers’ 119-98 victory over the Suns, with Jackson calling a timeout after D’Antoni called one with 4 minutes 45 seconds to play and the Lakers ahead, 111-81.
D’Antoni wasn’t amused, gesticulating at Jackson and reminding him the teams play each other three more times this season.
Afterward, he said Jackson “disrespected our players” and might want to save the mind games for the playoffs, “when we bust them every year.”
The Suns and Lakers each had to call a mandatory timeout in the fourth quarter. Jackson chose to use his right after D’Antoni used his, leading to a lag time of about eight minutes.
Jackson and D’Antoni each shoved another log onto the fire at their Saturday practices.
Will Jackson try to clear up any misunderstandings with D’Antoni before their Dec. 25 game at Staples Center?
“No. He has to figure that out on his own.”
Was D’Antoni a little too emotional?
“Yeah, well, it gave me a better understanding, perhaps, of him.”
And that was?
“Well, that his immediate response is to think it was about him and not about his team.”
D’Antoni didn’t exactly sit on his hands Saturday, responding to Jackson’s timeout explanation by telling reporters in Phoenix, “He probably should have come check down with us before he did this. . . . I’m not mad at him or mad at anybody else, but we will remember.”
D’Antoni said he felt embarrassed because he had nothing further to say to his team when the second timeout was called.
“So now, we’re looking around like idiots,” he said. “We were 30 down. We’re already idiots. Now, we really look like idiots. It’s something I thought he could have avoided. He chose to do that, and that’s fine.
“Hopefully, we’ll have the same opportunity to give it back to him. Plus, if he wants to play mind games with us . . . I don’t even have a mind, so what’s the difference? That’s not going to work.”