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Category: Mike Brown

Mike Brown hopes to lower Kobe Bryant's minutes

The goal remains too early to implement.

But one of Mike Brown's biggest goals beyond compiling as many wins as possible in this compressed 66-game schedule involves lowering Kobe Bryant's minutes.

The only problem: Bryant's minutes have actually increased. Even though Brown has hoped to play Bryant 33 to 35 minutes per game, the Lakers star has actually averaged 37.7. In the last five games, Bryant's minutes per contest spiked to 41. That's far more than the 33.9 minutes he averaged last season and even his career-average of 36.4.

"I talked to [Kobe] about increasing minutes right now," Brown said, "so we can win a few games so we can get a cushion in the win-loss column."

Yet, that short-term goal appears as difficult to juggle as hoping Bryant can reduce his shooting load for the sake of a more balanced offense. Bryant has scored at least 40 points in four of the last five games, but Brown believes a more sustainable strategy would involve an inside-out offense that features multiple double-digit scorers.

But it remains clear Brown doesn't feel fully comfortable with the play of Bryant's supporting cast to reduce his workload and his minutes. He played Bryant 38 minutes in the Lakers' 73-70 victory Monday over the Dallas Mavericks, despite hoping to limit his time to 35.

"If we can get a rhythm on both ends of the floor," Brown said, "it will put me at ease a little bit more."

That remains unrealistic at this point.

Shannon Brown's departure to Phoenix has made it more difficult to give Bryant rest, considering Brown averaged 8.7 points and important 19.1 minutes behind him at shooting guard. That's because the Lakers hardly have good options. Jason Kapono appears more natural at small forward, while rookie Andrew Goudelock often proves to play erratically.

That puts the pressure more on Bryant to produce. 

"He's been doing a great job," Lakers center Andrew Bynum said. "He's definitely been asked to score more this year with the loss of [Lamar Odom], and so have Pau [Gasol] and myself. From our three, we really need big games every night in order for us to be a competitive team."
 

RELATED:

Five things to take from Lakers' 73-70 victory over Dallas

 Mike Brown sees Kobe Bryant's scoring as short-term fix

Kobe Bryant continues to prove dominance

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Mike Brown wants NBA to review Blake Griffin's push on Darius Morris

Mike Brown's mood went from angry to mildly irritated.

He regrets going after the officials for their non-call on Blake Griffin's push on Lakers rookie guard Darius Morris late in the first quarter of the Lakers' 102-94 loss Saturday to the Clippers. Brown apologized to his team at halftime for earning a technical foul and granting the Clippers an additional free throw. And he hoped losing his cool didn't spark his players to do the same.

After watching the sequence again, however, Brown said after Sunday's practice at the team's facility in El Segundo that he wants the NBA to review the play.

"From what I've been told in a nutshell is that it's OK to push a guy in the air as long as he doesn't get hurt or it doesn't look like he's going to get hurt," Brown said. "It's a judgment call. The whistle clearly had been blown and he's a rookie. Whether he drives to the rim or shoots a jump shot or whatever, you still think that you protect the guy's safety."

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Lakers, Clippers remain chippy with each other

Each push, physical play and altercation confirmed one thing about the Lakers and the Clippers.

They don't like each other. That intensity in the Lakers' 102-94 loss Saturday to the Clippers reached full boil when Lakers rookie guard Darius Morris drove to the hoop late in the first quarter and drew a foul on Chris Paul. Soon after, Clippers forward Blake Griffin sent him to the floor, a play Brown said was "dangerous" and prompted him to yell at the referees for the non-call. Even with Lakers assistants John Kuester and Chuck Person holding him back, Brown was called for a technical, the first string of five both teams would collect.

"I lost my cool and I told my team at halftime, 'I apologize,' " Brown said. "I don't want to think that the refs can control the outcome of the game, and I don't want to give the other team free points and I gave them a point, so I apologized to our team at halftime. Hopefully I won't do that again and hopefully we won't do it again, but we need to be conscious of it. Because, that right there, I think we gave away (three) points tonight on unnecessary technicals. We need to be smarter with that, starting with me and we got to be better than that. I didn't do a good job."

The frustration hardly pointed to just Brown. The whole game remained on edge. Matt Barnes received a technical foul with 47.5 seconds remaining in the second quarter for arguing a no-call. Metta World Peace and Griffin each received technicals for getting dangled up in a play late in the third quarter. Moments later, Morris was called for a technical foul when he intervened between Josh McRoberts and several Clippers players as fighting for a loose ball. 

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Lakers' offense features little chemistry

With his arms pointing out toward the block, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant hoped Pau Gasol would cut across the lane to receive an entry pass. Instead, Gasol missed the body language, Bryant's pass went into traffic and the Lakers turned the ball over.

With his eyes darting toward the baseline, Lakers center Andrew Bynum shouted to Jason Kapono about moving into a passing lane on the perimeter so he could kick out of a double team. Nothing happened, so Bynum settled for a poor left hook that hit off the rim.

And with Bynum established on the low block, Lakers guard Darius Morris made perfect eye contact with him. But Morris' entry pass went directly toward Bynum's ankles instead of his hands.

These plays may appear isolated but they represent a much more complete picture of the Lakers' fragmented offense in their 102-94 loss Saturday to the Clippers, more than even Bryant's 42 points on 14-for-28 shooting. Regardless of whether Bryant fired good looks like he did in the second half or remained trigger happy in the first half, a constant remained. Despite the Lakers' Big Three in Bryant, Gasol (14) and Bynum (12) each cracking double figures, the offense hardly looked in sync. 

The Lakers mostly blamed the loss on the 50-42 rebounding disparity, particularly the 17-11 deficit on the offensive glass. But that effort is an anomaly compared to the rest of the season and arguably can be attributed at least partly to the Lakers playing five of their league-high 14 games in the past week. The Lakers' chemistry on offense, however, has remained flimsy and unpredictable all season. 

"It's moving in the right direction, but we have a ways to go," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. "We don't have a great feel of what we want all the time when it comes to different options. Sometimes when we forget for a second or third or fourth option then we have a tendency to look for someone to help us out. the guy who can always help us out is Kobe. Thats the thing we have to make sure we keep trying to guard against."

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Mike Brown remains grateful for Cavs coaching gig

Lakers Coach Mike Brown has every right to be bitter.

He guided the Cleveland Cavaliers through five seasons, helping them to two Eastern Confernce finals and one NBA FInals while compiling a 272-138 record. Yet, owner Dan Gilbert fired him after the 2009-10 season and hired current Cavaliers Coach Byron Scott in an attempt to appease LeBron James.

Instead, Brown says he remains grateful.

"I respect him for the opportunity," Brown said of Gilbert at the Lakers' morning shoot-around Friday at the team's practice facility in El Segundo. "I respect him for the time I had there and I feel like I do a pretty good job of keeping things in perspective."

As the Lakers play host to the Cavaliers on Friday night at Staples Center in what will mark Brown's first meeting against his former team, Brown's perspective involves less on lamenting on what could've become a permanent stint than understanding that it served as a touching stone toward his currrent position.

Even if Gilbert played a role in convincing NBA Commissioner David Stern to nix a trade that would've sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, Brown says he remains positive for one simple reason.

"I understand that life is bigger than what we do," Brown said. "It's not the end of the world if I get fired. I make great money. I enjoy what I do. There are people out there doing real jobs where if they get fired, you understand that the impact is so much greater. I would feel like a spoiled child if I were to rant and rave about getting fired after I made millions of dollars from a man and I had an opportunity that not many people probably would have given me with my age and experience and so on and so forth."

Still, it's not hard to read between the lines when Brown didn't mention Gilbert or James when asked if he still maintains contact with any former or current Cavaliers. Instead, Brown offered that he's only kept in touch with former players Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anthony Parker, albeit on an infrequent basis via text message.

Still, it's not an accident that Gilbert tweeted Brown was "one of highest character human beings I have ever met" when the Lakers hired him.

"I understand this is a business," Brown said. "I appreciate the opportunity that Dan Gilbert gave me, but it's his money, it's his team and he decided to go in a different direction. I just appreciate the five years that he gave me."

RELATED:

Steve Blake to miss Lakers-Cavaliers game

Five things to watch in Lakers-Cavaliers matchup

Darius Morris wants to make the most of opportunity

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Mike Brown compares Kobe Bryant and LeBron James

 

The Times' Ben Bolch notes Mike Brown's belief that Kobe Bryant is more "serious-minded" than LeBron James

--The Times' Ben Bolch notes Mike Brown's belief that Kobe Bryant is more "serious-minded" than LeBron James.

--The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer talks to Brown about how he's adjusting to the Lakers. 

--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr says she believes that Andrew Bynum has a strong chance to make the All-Star team.

--Ball Don't Lie's Kelly Dwyer says he loves the story lines surrounding Bryant and James. 

--ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky explains why Steve Blake's rib injury severely hurts the Lakers at point guard.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford argues that the Lakers' next three games against Cleveland, the Clippers and Dallas could be emotional. Brown used to coach the Cavs, the Lakers nearly landed Clippers guard Chris Paul and former Laker Lamar Odom was traded to the Mavericks.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell does some number-crunching regarding Bryant's scoring.

--Silver Screen and Roll's C.A. Clark argues that the Lakers need Dwight Howard's teammates more than they need Howard.

Tweet of the Day: "The Lakers have just 5 home games in the next 32 days." -- ESPNChrisPalmer (Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine NBA writer)

Rick Friedman Reader Comment of the Day: "The Lakers need to get themselves a pointguard someone who's going to put the bigs in a better position to score. Kobe contolling the ball takes the effectiveness away from Pau and Bynum. It's great Kobe is scoring lots of points but Kobe is not playing team ball. He's more concern about trying to catch Shaq." -- Ronald A. Mitchell 

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers Coach Mike Brown and Kobe Bryant. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Lakers' Darvin Ham works first NBA coaching gig

Images of a high-flying Darvin Ham racing toward the basket, dunking the ball and shattering the glass always follow him. 

It follows him at home. Ham still keeps several copies of the Sports Illustrated cover titled "Smashing," which showcases his memorable dunk that helped Texas Tech beat North Carolina in the second round of the 1996 NCAA tournament.

It follows him at work. As a Lakers assistant coach, Ham said Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Assistant Coach John Kuester, both former Tar Heel standouts, have teased him about it. They recently read a Times story that described the footage of Ham's dunk on YouTube as "grainy," allowing Kupchak and Kuester to fuel the notion that the 38-year-old Ham is too old.

And it follows him in many interviews. Ham spoke with The Times this week in a sit-down video interview for 23 minutes on his eight-year NBA career, his four-year coaching stint with the NBA Development League's Alburquerque Thunderbirds and his first NBA assistant coaching gig with the Lakers. Yet it's inevitable conversation shifts toward Ham's dunk. 

"I don't constantly try to relive it," Ham said. "I'm on to the next thing."

That's also why Ham never teased Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher about his role in helping Detroit beat the Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals. That's why Ham only joked just once as an icebreaker to Bryant that he unfairly won the 1997 NBA Dunk Contest over him. As the Lakers (8-4) host the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-5) Friday at Staples Center in only the 13th game of a compacted 66-game season, Ham's concentrating on carving out his niche within Mike Brown's coaching staff. 

"I'm working my butt off trying to put my best foot forward," Ham said.

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Andrew Bynum can do the little things while adapting to double teams

 

As he adjusts to double teams, Lakers center Andrew Bynum could improve his game by working on the little things in other parts of his game.

 

After countless video sessions and plenty of coaching feedback, Lakers center Andrew Bynum could just go to his bookshelf to find the answer on how to overcome double teams.

Coach Mike Brown gave his players the day off Thursday after the Lakers beat the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz on a back-to-back. But the compacted and exhausting NBA schedule may not give Bynum time to reread "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell, a book he pored over last season while rehabbing his surgically repaired right knee.

But should Bynum pull that book out, he'd see the subhead that provides a simple answer on how to approach his season-long quest to adjust to more imposing defenses. The text reads: "How little things can make a big difference."

In the case of the Lakers' 90-87 overtime victory Wednesday over the Utah Jazz, Bynum illustrated just how big that difference can be. With the Lakers leading by a point in the final seconds, Bynum stepped into the lane and swatted Al Jefferson's shot. The ball then landed in Kobe Bryant's hands and he was fouled, making two free throws with 0.7 seconds left to clinch the victory. Moments earlier, Bynum crashed the glass and tipped in one of Bryant's missed jumpers, giving the Lakers an 87-86 lead with 51 seconds remaining.

None of these plays have anything to do with Bynum's failure to play through double teams. He shot five of 13 from the field, provided only two assists and committed three turnovers. But they have everything to do with how Bynum can thrive by achieving the little things, even if his post performance continues to lag.

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Lakers offer incomplete picture through 10 games

The Lakers' 6-4 start marks their worst 10-game beginning since they opened the 2005-06 season with Smush Parker at point guard and went 4-6. There are plenty of positive and negative developments as well as a slew of uncertainties that make it hard to see what happens next. 

The Good

1. Work Ethic — This team's identity immediately flipped into a grind-it-out team partly because of Mike Brown's coaching style and partly because of the uncertain transition period. The Lakers have high expectations and the execution has been far from pretty. But it's nice for a change to see the Lakers actually trying in every single game.

2. Kobe Bryant's shooting — It's beyond comprehension how Bryant's been able to adjust his shot and go 49% in the past four games despite the torn ligament in his right wrist still ailing him. But he somehow does it.

3. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol — Bynum stormed out the gate strong and showed more offensive aggression. Meanwhile, Gasol has adjusted nicely by becoming a facilitator and maintaining a consistent midrange jump shot.

4.Half-court defense — Expect plenty of free-taco nights. The Lakers have allowed only 90.7 points per game, fifth best in the league.

5. Josh McRoberts — He doesn't exactly replace Lamar Odom, but his hustle and ability to hit his shots   has proved infectious when he's in the lineup. 

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Mike Brown admits struggles in handling compacted schedule

As he headed toward the trainer's room Monday, Lakers guard Derek Fisher simply shook his head. 

The Lakers' game tonight against the Phoenix Suns marks the second contest of a five-game stretch this week, leaving them with a late-night flight to Utah for Wednesday's game and Monday and Thursday as the only practice days. A reporter pointed out that next week's schedule of games against Dallas (Jan. 16), at Miami (Jan. 19) and at Orlando (Jan. 20) at least gives them four practice days. But that hardly assuaged Fisher's concerns.

When Coach Mike Brown stepped out toward the Lakers' practice court, Fisher said the following within earshot: "This week, we say we wish we had more practices, but when the practices come next week, we're going to say we need more rest."

Brown, Fisher and a small group of reporters laughed at the thought process, but it epitomizes an approach to this year's compacted schedule that Brown admits he's struggled handling. 

"I've been trying to teach and learn and all that, while not trying to do too much," he said. "But I have done that at times."

That's included three-hour practices. A few that were open to reporters included hourlong shooting sessions. After training camp started Dec. 9, the Lakers didn't have a single day off until Dec. 28, after playing three games on consecutive nights.

Brown initially wanted an even more intense schedule, but scrapped some of those plans. Instead of having six two-a-day sessions during training camp, the Lakers had three. Brown reduced the playbook to a third of its original size, and he has tried to limit recent morning shootarounds to no longer than 90 minutes. 

"We knew it was going to be a challenge," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. We knew we would face adversity first. We knew all that coming in."

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