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Little Christmas cheer for NBA's lagging teams

Head coach Mike D'Antoni (R) of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with Wesley Johnson during their NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on December 23, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona
Head coach Mike D'Antoni (R) of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with Wesley Johnson during their NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on December 23, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni was among a trio of NBA coaches feeling decidedly un-festive this week as Christmas approached with their teams mired in December difficulties.

D'Antoni, whose team has struggled with injuries to superstar Kobe Bryant and veteran point guard Steve Nash among others, didn't have any sympathy to spare for Lakers fans after the team's second straight blowout road defeat on Monday night, a 117-90 loss at Phoenix.

The Lakers were coming off a 102-83 loss at Golden State on Saturday. Spanish big man Pau Gasol missed that contest with a respiratory infection.

He returned to the lineup in Phoenix, but exited early after a clash of heads with Suns center Miles Plumlee left him with a bloody cut near his right eye.

"If they're discouraged, then find another team to root for," D'Antoni snapped in answer to a reporter's question on Monday night.

"We're not going to give up. Are you kidding me? Discouraged? That's not even fair to these guys."

Sacramento Kings coach Mike Malone, however, was in no mood to defend his players after they gave up 22 turnovers leading to 29 New Orleans points in a 113-100 loss to the Pelicans in Sacramento on Monday.

Michael Malone of the Sacramento Kings reacts during a game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 18, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia
Michael Malone of the Sacramento Kings reacts during a game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 18, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia

"We're a bad basketball team," said Malone, whose Kings are 8-19 in his first season at the helm.

"I don't know if anyone in that locker room is embarrassed, but I'm embarrassed."

Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd, whose playing days ended just last season, sounded a saddish note as he contemplated his Nets' latest defeat, a 103-86 rout by the streaking Pacers.

"I think it's getting very close to just accepting losing," Kidd said.

"We kind of get comfortable with losing, and we've got to make a stand with that, because when things get tough, do we just give in? And most of the time right now, we do."

However, Monday's defeat could be a sign of things to come as the Nets played their first game without star center Brook Lopez, the team's top scorer who could miss the rest of the season with a broken right foot.

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