TWO MINUTES: Unlike the Princeton offense, Mike D’Antoni’s “Seven Seconds or Less” schemes will be easy for the Lakers to grasp. What may not be easy is the premise of a de facto second training camp with an emphasis on conditioning in the middle of a season. To outrun opponents, it helps to be young – which the Lakers certainly are not – and physically fit, which remains to be seen. Even LA’s youngest starter expressed concern. “The biggest thing is getting in shape so we can run,” 26-year-old center Dwight Howard said. “We’ve got a lot of old guys and old legs on the team. I’m one of those guys.” Everyone else in the starting lineup is at least 32. … When the Celtics lost in Brooklyn on Thursday, it ended a streak of 27 games they had won when leading after three quarters. … Bobcats rookie coach Mike Dunlap rubbed a handful of players the wrong way when he put his team through extended practices in training camp, with some lasting as long as four hours. When the grumbling began, owner Michael Jordan strongly defended his coach, telling the media that long practices and strict adherence to fundamentals would be the new culture of the team. The early returns are promising; the Bobcats – who won seven games all last season – are 4-4, putting together their first three-game winning streak since March 2011. “It’s because the guys have bought the message and they’ve worked hard on the wood,” Dunlap said. “We’ve had some long practices and we’ve heard some squawking on that. Hopefully the volume gets turned down on that a little bit because they can see the benefit.” … On Monday vs. Utah, Toronto scored 11, 10 and eight points in three overtime periods and lost. On Tuesday at Indiana, the Raptors scored five points in the fourth quarter and won. … In the offseason, the Heat acquired Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis to station at the 3-point line, spread the floor and fire away, and the duo has taken nearly half (69 of 140) of their combined shots from the arc. But that is nothing compared to their teammate trio of Shane Battier, Mike Miller and James Jones, who have taken 78 of their 91 shots from 3-point range. All told, those five are shooting a blistering 49 percent (72-of-147) from distance. … Dallas coach Rick Carlisle had a rather succinct explanation for his team’s road win at Cleveland on Saturday night: “We quit doing certifiably insane things with the basketball.” … Is Andray Blatche the sneaky signing of the summer? He was a victim of the amnesty clause by the Wizards and spent a portion of the offseason working out with career rehabilitator John Lucas before the Nets signed him to a veteran’s minimum deal. With power forwards Kris Humphries, Reggie Evans and higher-paid rookie Mirza Teletovic in front of him, it didn’t look like Blatche would play much. But Brooklyn’s lack of a backup center has provided an opening for Blatche, who is making the most of it. He has played every game thus far, averaging 9.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and just under a block in 17.4 minutes. And his presence is allowing Brook Lopez to play under 30 minutes per game thus far. … In Thursday’s Knicks-Spurs matchup, Tiago Splitter scored San Antonio’s first 13 points of the fourth quarter to build an 89-77 lead with just over seven minutes to play. When Tim Duncan replaced him about two minutes later, New York went on a game-changing 19-6 run during which the future Hall of Famer was 0-of-1 with zero rebounds. Gregg Popovich has done a magnificent job of managing Duncan’s minutes in recent years, but the big guy looked gassed in this one.
Trivia Answer: Michael Jordan, Alonzo Mourning, and Tim Hardaway … Happy 31st Birthday, Marcus Banks. … Until he gets his shooting above 40 percent, Klay Thompson should change his first name to Brick.
Chris Bernucca is the deputy editor of SheridanHoops.com. His columns appear Monday during the season. You can follow him on Twitter.