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Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak stands by coach Mike D’Antoni

01.23.13 at 9:49 am ET
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Mike D'Antoni hasn't been able to turn the Lakers' fortunes around. (AP)

With the Lakers 17-24 and in 12th place at the midpoint of the season, Los Angeles general manager Mitch Kupchak voiced his support for coach Mike D’Antoni and said he’s not the Lakers’ problem.

“Without a doubt, we have utmost confidence in Mike [D'Antoni] as a coach,” Kupchak told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Tuesday. “I think if you spoke to him, his vision on Day 1 was dramatically different than it is today. It’s the coach’s job to adjust and to make changes. Sometimes a player is just not going to fit. Sometimes a coach has to make changes and compromise in the way he’s done things and I think that’s what Mike is going through right now is just the process.”

Kupchak said D’Antoni isn’t in danger of meeting the same fate as Mike Brown, the coach the Lakers fired after their 1-4 start to this season. He said the main thing that does concern him is the players’ effort, or lack thereof.

“When the ball is not bouncing your way, when shots aren’t going in, you just can’t seem to get a break, the one thing you can control on the court is your effort and loose balls and running the floor, defending, offensive rebounding,” Kupchak said. “I think back to the Miami game and I have that vision of LeBron [James] diving on that ball at midcourt. That’s effort.”

In D’Antoni’s introductory news conference in November, he said the team should “easily” average 110-115 points per game under his guidance. That’s happened just eight times in his 31 games in Los Angeles. His players, most notably Dwight Howard, have also expressed frustration with D’Antoni’s system and his frequent lineup changes, although Kupchak argued that his willingness to try different combinations of players is a positive.

“Understandably, I think the longer the season goes the more is at stake and the bigger hole you dig, the more dramatic your adjustments or your take on coaching has to become,” Kupchak said. “I think that’s what he’s doing. He’s grabbing every rabbit out of the hat trying to look for something that works.”

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