That collective sigh of relief you probably heard on Monday morning was Spurs fans across San Antonio reacting to the news that the Los Angeles Lakers passed on Hall of Fame Coach Phil Jackson in favor of offensive guru Mike D’Antoni to replace former Head Coach Mike Brown. Perhaps more than any figure outside of Kobe Bryant, Jackson best symbolizes the Lakers historical dominance against the Spurs in the post-season. At one point Jackson went as far to dub Gregg Popovich and his coaching staff as the “simulator crew” for their lack of NBA playing experience.
Neither Jackson or D’Antoni were in the building when Pop and the Spurs closed out their four game road trip on Tuesday night in Los Angeles with a tight 84-82 win against the Lakers. Spurs shooting guard Danny Green closed out the Lakers on a three-pointer with 9.3 seconds left on the clock, and Kawhi Leonard shadowed Bryant on the game’s final play resulting in a busted play for Los Angeles. San Antonio now sits atop the Southwest Division with a 7-1 record with the Memphis Grizzlies chasing them at an impressive mark of 6-1.
Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks enter the AT&T Center tonight as the last undefeated team standing in the NBA. After parting ways with D’Antoni in the aftermath of Linsanity, the Knicks are off to their best record in recent history. Boasting a solid defense and a fresh out of retirement Rasheed Wallace, expect a spirited contest from a pair of teams playing inspired ball at the start of a young season. With D’Antoni at the helm in Los Angeles and James Harden turning heads in Houston, things suddenly look a lot more open for the Spurs in the West.