LOS ANGELES -- The Warriors were having a shootaround at Staples Center when news broke the Los Angeles Lakers fired their head coach.

The USA Today report, that the Lakers had relieved Mike Brown of his duties after five games, sent shock waves through the basketball world. But it won't change anything for the Warriors, whom the Lakers host Friday night. Warriors coach Mark Jackson said his team isn't buying into talk the train wreck Lakers are vulnerable right now.

"Nah," Jackson said when asked if the Warriors smell blood. "They'll figure it out. ... Our job is to make sure they don't figure it out while we're here. We understand what they're going through. But it's important for us to play to our strengths."

Assistant Bernie Bickerstaff will serve as the Lakers' head coach Friday against the Warriors. Brown had been under heavy scrutiny after a winless preseason and the sputtering start to the regular season. The Lakers are 1-4, last in the Pacific Division, and their only victory is over winless Detroit -- hardly the expected results after adding point guard Steve Nash and center Dwight Howard to the fold.

According to Yahoo! Sports, general manager Mitch Kupchak had been trying to convince ownership to give Brown more time. But Friday morning, Brown was called out of a staff meeting Friday morning and relieved of his duties.


Advertisement

"I have great respect for the Buss family and the Lakers' storied tradition and I thank them for the opportunity they afforded me," Brown said in a statement released Friday. "I have a deep appreciation for the coaches and players that I worked with this past year and I wish the organization nothing but success as they move forward."

Many notables around the league have commented. Lakers legend Magic Johnson tweeted he felt bad for Brown but he didn't "think he was the right guy for the job in the first place."

Howard's former coach Stan Van Gundy told the Orlando Sentinel he felt Brown's firing was "the most ridiculous firing in NBA history."

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich told the San Antonio Express News "from outside looking in, he never had a chance to put the team together. That's pretty obvious to anybody."

Thus far, the Lakers have struggled on defense, which is considered Brown's specialty. They enter Friday's game ranked 20th in field goal percentage defense (44.7) and 19th in points allowed (98.8).

But the recent focus of Brown critics has been on his decision to install the Princeton offense. The Lakers are 14th in the league in points per game (97.2) despite having three of the better offensive weapons in the league in guard Kobe Bryant, Howard, and forward Pau Gasol. (Hall of Fame-bound point guard Steve Nash has only played two games thanks to a fracture in his left leg.).

The Princeton offense -- based on ball movement, crisp passing and cutting -- doesn't seem to play to the Lakers' formidable isolation and pick-and-roll strengths. Many feel a change at head coach, which figures to include a change in the offensive system, will lead to a more dominant Lakers' squad. It seems ownership agreed.

"I've never been in that situation before," Warriors point guard Jarrett Jack. "But it has to give you the sense of a new start and playing with some new-found freedom."