The Los Angeles Lakers fired head coach Mike Brown Friday morning, then the team turned in its best performance of the season just hours later. The Lakers blew out the Golden State Warriors 101-77 to secure their second win of the season.
Interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff has claimed he knows he won’t be the head coach very long, but he’s 1-0 at the helm of the team. Obviously, Bickerstaff probably didn’t have a whole lot to do with the turnaround, but still he got a result and the team was ready to play.
Kobe Bryant had an excellent all-around game, finishing with 27 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Pau Gasol chipped in with a double-double (14 points, 16 rebounds) and second-year points guard Darius Morris added a career-high 10 points.
Dwight Howard had a quiet night, with just six points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks. He played just 24 minutes because he wasn’t needed and it was a chance to give him some rest.
But the Lakers looked better everywhere. Guys like Antawn Jamison (six points, seven rebounds), Jordan Hill (14 points, four rebounds), Jodie Meeks (seven points) and Metta World Peace (10 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals) all looked focused and more engaged.
There was a better energy about the team, and that’s likely because they knew a weight had been lifted. There were no more questions about the fate of their head coach. It was the kind of game Los Angeles needed to right the ship and get itself going.
Meanwhile, the team’s coaching situation is fluid. We’ve heard from several sources close to the organization that Phil Jackson is the team’s top choice to take over. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. The team’s backup option is likely Mike D’Antoni – we can’t get anyone to confirm that rumor but it has been circulating so there must be some truth to it.
But Jackson is clearly who the team is hoping will come in and take over. The arrangement would likely include the Zen Master being allowed to pick, bring in and groom his successor. The Lakers would likely be fine with such an situation, and that guy would almost certainly be Brian Shaw, who is currently an assistant with the Indiana Pacers.
Jackson would probably want to bring in some of his long-time assistants like Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons, and I can’t see Los Angeles having a problem with that. But if all that does go down, don’t be surprised if Jackson keeps current assistant Chuck Person on the bench.
Lakers fans made it know who they wanted to see on the bench. During the third quarter and fourth quarters of Friday night’s game they were in full throat with a “we want Phil” chant.
From what we’re hearing they might get their wish soon.