The Los Angeles Lakers, behind LeBron James’ near triple-double and Tyson Chandler’s impressive team debut, got back in the win column on Wednesday with a 114-110 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center.
The victory improved the Lakers to 3-1 in their last four games and 5-6 on the season. It’s their best stretch all year, as the team has noticeably responded well since president of basketball operations Magic Johnson’s meeting with head coach Luke Walton last week.
While some speculated that Johnson was upset with the Lakers’ slow start, it was later reported that he expressed his frustration with Walton’s offensive system thus far.
Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau, who has experience being in Walton’s precarious position, offered advice. “I think for any coach, that’s the challenge of coaching in this league, is to not get distracted,” Thibodeau said.
“Luke has been around. I think he has a big advantage too with his dad being an NBA player growing up, so he’s been around a lot of things. I think he’s got a great demeanor. I watched him when I had an opportunity to visit with Golden State, and was very impressed with him there.
“In coaching, you’re going to be thrown a lot of things. I don’t think when it was going great for him, he never got too high. I think he’s handled the lows well. This is a challenge, this is a great job, he’s got a new team. But Luke’s terrific.”
Thibodeau also opined that given the makeup of the Lakers’ roster, with key veterans in place such as James and Rajon Rondo, any pressure on Walton should be eased. “I think every coach would say the more great players you have, the better,” Thibodeau added.
“I think he has a relationship because they were on the same team at one point. There’s a lot of guys on their team, like Rondo is a very intelligent guy as well who’s got a lot of experience. Players like that, they’ve seen a lot of things, so you’re always talking and communicating with them. Like LeBron has been in a lot of big games, seen a lot of different defenses. I think that’s one of his great strengths.
“And I think the same thing with Rondo. You’re talking about a championship-caliber point guard. I had the opportunity to coach him when he was a young player in Boston. He had three Hall-of-Fame players and he was a very strong personality then. He’s not afraid, he’s got great vision and intelligence, and I think that helps.
“They’ve got a great blend; they have some really talented young guys and they have some veterans that have been around and through a lot of things. It’s a good group.”
After their much-talked about meeting, Johnson assured that he wouldn’t make a coaching change this season unless things spiraled out of control for the Lakers.
Now it simply comes down to performance and living up to the high expectations that were set with the team’s signing of James in July.