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The Pulse of the NBA

2:16 PM, Nov 12, 2012   |    comments
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New York, NY (Sports Network) - There was a "Brown-out" in Los Angeles, while Big Apple basketball fans are basking in perfection. Those are just some of the stories we look at as we take "The Pulse of the NBA."

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

The Lakers have dominated the NBA headlines since firing coach Mike Brown on Friday, and then basically stunned the basketball world by naming Mike D'Antoni as his successor over Phil Jackson

Here's my quick take on the whole situation:

Firing Mike Brown was the right move. Hiring him in the first place was the wrong move.

Phil Jackson would've been the best choice. For those who say the triangle offense would have taken too long to integrate and not taken enough advantage of the skills of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, I say that I'll take the coach with 11 championship rings and a guy smart enough to know that he can run the triangle and take advantage of the pick-and-roll skills of Nash and Howard.

D'Antoni has a reputation of not being a good defensive coach. But he has players who know how to play defense, and know that you don't win championships by trying to outscore your opponents. The key will be how capable they are of playing good defense with a defensive liability in Nash, a slower Kobe Bryant and a bench with unathletic players like Steve Blake and Antawn Jamison.

And speaking of the bench, it would be difficult for any coach to win a championship with a really bad bench. The Lakers were last in bench scoring last season at 20.5 points per game, and are next-to-last this season at 20.9 points. The additions of Jamison and Jodie Meeks were supposed to fortify the second unit, but Jamison has been awful (3.6 ppg, 34.8 field-goal percentage) and Meeks was buried on the bench under Brown. Blake, meanwhile, continues to be a big reason why this bench is bad, and general manager Mitch Kupchak needs to address this situation now, and D'Antoni would be wise to make Blake a bench-warmer.

NEW YORK KNICKS

The Knicks are the league's only unbeaten time with a 4-0 record. It marks the first time since the 1993-94 season, when they lost to the Houston Rockets in the finals, that they won their first four games.

And for the first time in a really long time, they're giving a major defensive effort with extremely good results.

The Knicks are ranked No. 1 in the league in opponents points allowed, giving up just 87.5 points per game and are holding the opposition to a league- best 40.7 field goal percentage.

But also keep in mind that two of their games came against the Philadelphia 76ers, who are without Andrew Bynum, and are averaging only 88.7 points per game, and they beat a Mavericks team on Friday that was missing Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the court, they're sharing the ball rather than have Carmelo Anthony dominate it as has been the case in the past. Give a lot of credit there to the starting backcourt of Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd. It helps to have two point guards on the floor at the same time, and the pair has combined to average 10.3 assists per game.

But some of the offensive success also can be attributed to the Knicks' tremendous 3-point shooting. And it's very unlikely they'll be able to keep this pace up. They're No. 2 in the league in 3-point field goal percentage, hitting 43.6 percent of their shots from downtown, and they lead the NBA with 12.8 3-point field goals made and a whopping 29.3 attempts per game.

After playing three of their first four games at home, and three of those games against undermanned teams, the Knicks will play three straight road games this week, starting with the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, followed by back-to-back games with the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies.

I think this week will give us a little better gauge of how good this team is. Los Angeles Clippers

DeAndre Jordan is best known for his alley-oop dunks and shot-blocking ability, but he's shown an improved low-post game which resulted in Jordan scoring at least 20 points in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. The fifth-year center had 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting in a home win over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, and the following night in a win in Portland, he scored 21 points on 8-of-10 from the floor.

A number of his points came off a really nice jump hook he's developed, which he can hit with either hand. Jordan leads the NBA in field goal percentage at 72 percent.

If he can become a consistent threat in the low post, it will open the game up even more for the likes of Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford, and make the Clippers that more dangerous.

DETROIT PISTONS

There is a little bit of a silver lining in the dark cloud of the Pistons' 0-7 start and it goes by the name of rookie Andre Drummond.

The ninth overall pick, who was considered raw and a bit of a project, has immediately stepped in and contributed some quality minutes off the bench.

The former Connecticut center, who is averaging 6.9 points, 5 rebounds and one block in 16 minutes, had an eye-opening game in Saturday's loss in Oklahoma City. Drummond had 22 points and eight rebounds in just 21 minutes, and just as importantly, played very well in the second half after being paired with Greg Monroe for the first time.

"When you have two guys like that, you have two big men guarding us and you know how they get mixed up sometimes with picks and stuff like that," Monroe said. "I was able to find him a couple of times with them mixed up and got a couple easy buckets."

Despite the positive results with his two big men on the floor, coach Lawrence Franks isn't in a rush to make the combination work.

"We've said it from day one with Andre, we're just not going to throw him to the wolves," Frank said. "This is going to be a process and it has nothing to do with the fact that we don't think it could work, but there's a build-up to this. Because what you hate to do is throw it all out there, then have to go all the way back. That one is tough to recover from mentally for many players.

"Not every game is going to be a masterpiece for him, and it shouldn't be.

"He's 19. But we've said this since the time we drafted him, we are not going to rush this process."

At 6-foot-10, 270 pounds and off-the-charts athleticism, Drummond has the physical tools to be a very high level player in this league. The key will be how badly he wants to reach those heights and how much work he'll put in to get there.

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