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Magic Johnson rips D'Antoni's strategy

The SportsXchange

When the Los Angeles Lakers hired Mike D'Antoni instead of Phil Jackson as their new coach last month, Lakers legend Magic Johnson publicly voiced his displeasure.

The Lakers sported a 4-7 record entering Tuesday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, prompting Johnson to take another shot at his former team.

Speaking at a Tuesday press conference in which the Los Angeles Dodgers introduced newly signed pitcher Zack Greinke, Johnson, a part owner of the Dodgers, criticized D'Antoni's strategy.

"What the coach has to do is say I have a certain philosophy but I don't have the players to play that scheme and that system, but what I do have is two of the best 7-footers in the game," Johnson said. "When (power forward) Pau Gasol was on that block, he averaged 18 points. He shot 53 percent. And he is the best passing big man in the game.

"But you have him at the free-throw line. That makes no sense. That's not his game. His game is catch it on the low block, face his man and make a move to the cup. He has great moves."

Johnson added, "His system doesn't fit the talent that the Lakers have. You can't run with this team. Where's the runners? You got one dude who can get up and down the court, and that's Kobe (Bryant). Ron (Metta World Peace), love him, but he's slow. Both our big men are not fast guys. So maybe I should scale it back. I run if it's there. If not, just like us, Showtime, we'd run it down. If we got the layup, good. If we don't, (veteran center) Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar), come here, bail us out."

The Lakers' Dec. 2 home loss was particularly galling to Johnson. Los Angeles held a seven-point in the middle of the fourth quarter, but the Orlando Magic closed the game on a 36-17 run to take a 113-103 victory.

"How does the Orlando Magic score 40 points in the fourth quarter in Staples Center? Are you kidding me? That should never happen," Johnson said.
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