Lakers can Brown after slow start

936439.jpg

Lakers can Brown after slow start

BOSTON The Los Angeles Lakers are the West coast version of the Boston Celtics, a franchise that judges success by banners and championship rings, not wins and losses.

And because of that, Mike Brown is gone as the team's head coach just five regular season games into his tenure.

His dismissal was part unexpected, part shocking but more than anything else, quite telling as to the Los Angeles Lakers taking their win-at-all-costs mantra to another level as the Lakers stumbled through one of the worst starts in franchise history.

After engineering deals that netted them two-time league MVP Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, pairing them up with all-stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, many pegged the Lakers as one of the teams to beat this season.

But a winless preseason followed by a 1-4 regular season start had many questioning whether Brown was the right man to lead the way.

Never mind that Nash has been out for all but a game due to a broken foot injury that will keep him on the shelf until later this month.

Forget about the downside to having a star-studded starting lineup, is a bench that's typically void of many, if any, high impact players.

And when you throw in the fact that the Lakers are implementing the Princeton offense, it all adds up to a team that's probably not going to be playing its best basketball in November.

But the slow start was just the beginning of the issues in La La Land.

Right from the start, his hiring brought about some division amongst the Lakers front office.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak was pushing for the head coaching job vacated by Phil Jackson in 2011, to go to Rick Adelman who has since landed the head coaching job in Minnesota. However, Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss felt Brown would be a better fit - that is, until Friday when he along with owner Jerry Buss made the decision to fire Brown.

And by cutting Brown loose, one of the most attractive head coaching jobs in the NBA is once again available.

Not surprisingly, calls for Phil Jackson to return for a third tour of duty have been heard loud and clear by Lakers fans. Another appealing option for them would be Mike D'Antoni who hasn't been an NBA head coach since he left the New York Knicks in 2011. According to Yahoo Sports!, D'Antoni recently had knee replacement surgery and is still recovering and thus his returning to coach the team would seem a long-shot right now.

Others expected to get some consideration include Nate McMillan and former Lakers guard and current Indiana assistant Brian Shaw.

Reactions to Brown's firing became a popular topic on social media websites.

"Feel bad for Coach Mike Brown, who's a great guy," tweeted former Lakers great Magic Johnson. " But don't think he was the right guy for the job in the first place."

Johnson later tweeted, "I'd love to see Phil Jackson or Brian Shaw. Wish Pat Riley was available."many pehh

Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury

Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury

BOSTON – Wednesday’s 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks was the fifth time in the last six games that Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley was out because of a right Achilles injury.

Well, it appears the 6-foot-2 guard may miss a few more with this injury.

“I can see him missing a little more time,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said following Wednesday’s loss. “I just think maybe he came back a little bit too early, whatever the case may be.”

Bradley was expected to play against the Knicks, but was a last-minute scratch.

Celtics big man Al Horford said he didn’t find out Bradley was out until the team was on the floor doing pre-game warmups and he didn’t see him.

“He was really sore,” Stevens said of Bradley. “Went through our walk-through and then came on to the court and did some stuff and was more sore today than he has been. I think he did treatment the whole game.”

This latest setback for Bradley is part of a growing narrative that has dogged him throughout his career which has included him missing games to injury in each of his six-plus NBA seasons.

Bradley came into this season once again hoping to be as injury-free as possible, only to see that dream dashed with this right Achilles strain he's suffering with currently.

Still, there’s no downplaying the significance and value the Celtics have in the 26-year-old. This season, he is second on the Celtics in scoring at 17.7 points per game and leads them in rebounds with 6.9 per game with both being career highs. In addition, he averages just under 35 minutes per game which is also tops on the team.

Marcus Smart has been Stevens’ choice to replace Bradley in the starting lineup when Bradley has been unavailable, and that’s not likely to change between now and Saturday’s home game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Horford on rough night vs. Knicks: 'They deserved to win. They played better'

Horford on rough night vs. Knicks: 'They deserved to win. They played better'

BOSTON – With the night’s outcome all but a foregone conclusion, Al Horford’s last basket of the night got a sarcastic round of applause and a few jeers from the few fans that decided to stick it out for the final few seconds of Boston’s 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks.

Horford finished with a season-low five points for the Celtics (26-16).

Connecting on just 2-for-14 (or 14.3 percent) of his shots also represented the worst shooting night percentage-wise in Horford’s nine-plus NBA seasons.

“I struggled bad offensively,” said Horford who still managed to dish out a game-high 10 assists. “I tried to do anything I could to help us. It just wasn’t going for me.”

But as poorly as Horford shot the ball, he was more bothered by his defense and for that matter the Celtics’ team defense.

New York came into Wednesday’s game having lost 11 of its last 13 games and spent most of the night playing like a team that’s thirsty for a win.

They shot 50.5 percent from the floor, 40 percent on 3’s and dominated the glass 57-33 which helped fuel New York’s 24-12 advantage in second-chance points.

“We have to do a better job of holding teams to one shot,” Horford said. “That’s the first thing. I have to do a better job at protecting the rim. I know I can recall a couple instances where I needed to be there and I wasn’t impacting the ball as much as I would like to. I know I have to be better on the defensive end.”

Horford’s struggles on many levels mirrored the problems experienced by the rest of the Celtics.

“They punked us,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas who led all scorers with 39 points. “They were the harder playing team on both ends of the floor. That was the definition of this game; they played harder than us.”

For most of the night, the New York Knicks were making all the big plays defensively and clutch shots offensively while the Celtics consistently failed to get that one defensive stop or knock down the one jumper that could have at least shifted the game’s momentum closer to being in their favor.

Boston rookie Jaylen Brown believes the Celtics didn’t take the struggling Knicks as seriously as they should have.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Brown who came off the bench to score 12 points for Boston (26-16). “It’s a game we should have won. We underestimated our opponent. We are a better team than that even though we played bad we still had a lot of opportunities to win the ball game.”

Horford had a different take on how things went down on Wednesday.

“I don’t think we overlooked them,” Horford said. “But I think we kind of … consciously or not, we felt we were going to win this game like, ‘We’ll struggle a little bit, but we’ll figure it out and win it.’ It didn’t work like that. In the fourth, we were right there. They made a couple shots. They deserved to win. They played better.”

And as the Celtics found themselves on multiple occasions having a chance to tie the game or take the lead in the fourth, it would have been fool’s good if they somehow managed to squeak out a win on Wednesday night.

“We didn’t deserve it,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder who had 21 points. “When you don’t deserve it, the basketball gods don’t bless you.”

But there’s plenty of season left to be played, and the Celtics – as we saw on Wednesday – have plenty of room for improvement.

Especially Horford, particularly when it comes to getting back on track shooting the ball.

“It was at the point where I didn’t have it,” he said. “That was tough. So I tried to impact the game in other ways whether it was setting screens or giving people shots, stuff like that. That was definitely tough for me because they were good looks. They just didn’t go in.”