Archive for the 'Mike Brown' Category

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Transition D the Key

There’s an argument to be made that transition defense is the most important aspect of L.A.’s game plan against the Nuggets.

Mike Brown’s team executed that plan quite well in Game 1, limiting Denver to 19 fast break points, though the Nuggets were so intent upon run outs in Game 2 that L.A. found the visitors difficult to contain, allowing 30 transition points that kept Denver in a game the Lakers controlled thanks to half court execution on both ends.

The league’s leading fast break scoring team in the league during the regular season will surely try to push the tempo even more so with their home crowd and the thin Rocky Mountain air, so we asked Brown to take us through exactly what the Lakers need to do to corral that pressure.

He didn’t skip any steps while offering an in-succession answer:

1) “First off, when we are on offense and a shot goes up, if you’re a big and you’re already in the paint, go ahead and offensive rebound. If you’re a big and you’re out of the paint, get back. If you’re a small and one of the other two smalls takes the shot, you and the other that didn’t shoot must sprint back immediately.”
- Brown explained that these things have to happen the second a shot is in the air, and that as soon as it does, the first two steps need to be “an explosion.” Meanwhile, eyes need to be trained up court, to gather where the opponent is running.

2) “Once the basket is protected, the next thing is to stop the basketball. We have to stop it without giving up middle drives, and now – because we’re stopping the ball in a no-middle stance – the ball should be on one side of the court or the other.”
- Eliminating the middle prevents easy and direct drives to the hoop, a top priority.

3) “The next step is to load to the basketball, to build a wall that can’t be penetrated.”
- If a Nuggets’ guard is bringing the ball up the right side of the court, Brown doesn’t want his defenders sprinting to the other side of the court.

4) “The last guy down the floor in transition has to run to the weak side, so he’ll have enough time to bump out a small, if the small has a big in a mismatch.”
- This is often one of L.A.’s two bigs, who is more likely to be in the paint going after an offensive board. It’s his job to sprint back to that weak side in case one of the guards has had to body up an opposing big.

5) “Our next thing is to find what we call ‘most dangerous.’ Now that we have the ball stopped, we’ve loaded on the strong side and the paint looks crowded, we can build out to shooters. If we have to give up any shot, it’s going to be a late, contested three.”
- Once the first four priorities are accomplished, players have to be smart enough to recognize what’s dangerous (say, Danilo Gallinari spotting up for a trailing three) and what’s not (Timofey Mozgov trailing the play outside of the paint).

6) “Then it’s just box out and rebound.”
- Naturally.

So that’s the progression that Mike Brown wants his players thinking about literally every time a shot goes in the air, which is very much easier said than done, especially when a team like Denver gets some momentum going. But as Brown pointed out, we can’t gloss over how important L.A.’s offensive execution is to transition defense.

“It all starts with how we’re playing offensively,” he explained. “If we take a poor shot or a quick shot, if we have all five guys below the free throw line when the shot goes up, if we ball watch when the shot goes up, if we turn the ball over and our floor balance isn’t correct we can get into trouble.

“All those things can help our opponent get out and attack us in transition because our floor balance is bad.”

The other thing to avoid, at all costs, is having mental lapses, which is how big runs start. Say a player takes a bad shot, then two others don’t get back in transition, there can start to be a snowball effect.

“We can’t afford that,” Brown continued. “One thing we say to our guys a lot is ‘next play,’ meaning if I turn it over, they get a dunk if I don’t immediately sprint back. It’s not human like to think of having an explosion back after an error, because you naturally are thinking about your mistake, but you just have to move on immediately to take away an opportunity at the other end.”

When Game 3 is over late on Friday night, go ahead and check the “fast break points” statistic for Denver; it will most likely go a long ways towards telling the tale of the contest.

LAL vs PHO: Coaches Quote Corner

Before and after L.A.’s Friday evening victory over Phoenix, respective head coaches Mike Brown and Alvin Gentry made their usual pre and post game comments. Because the two teams play again on Sunday, this time in the Valley of the Sun, the comments shine a bit of light on what to look for.

We tried to help by bolding some highlights; here you go:

MIKE BROWN POSTGAME:
On the game in general:
Brown: We got a lot of production from a lot of guys. For the first time in a while we got some easy baskets. I thought we did a better job in the second half of defending. We did something defensively to get them to drop 7-8 percentage points by the end of the game. On top of that, 26 assists on 44 baskets is playing the right way, moving the ball, moving bodies, trying to get good looks for one another. That’s fun to watch. I thought Matt (Barnes) gave us a huge lift off the bench, also Steve (Blake) with his six assists, but Matt’s activity (was crucial). He had some big defensive plays that led to some easy baskets for us. I thought Derek Fisher was very solid for us. He was pretty efficient shooting the basketball. Kobe’s ability to score is something that can’t be coached. It was good to see him get different looks from different areas on the floor.

On the Lakers learning, growing and gaining confidence:
Brown: I truly believe our guys are getting it a little bit. They’re starting to get to spots and even when we’re kind of in a random offense, our guys understand spacing and the concepts that we’ve been trying to get to them since the beginning of the year. They’re trying to do a nice job of attacking in spots and trying to get into our sets. The reality of it is whether we run a play or not is they’re doing a nice job of moving the ball and moving bodies. The comfort level of starting to understand what we’re trying to accomplish offensively aids their comfort level in their ability to shoot the basketball.

On what needs to improve in advance of Sunday’s rematch:
Brown: We didn’t do a good job of playing the pick and roll. The 2nd half with (Marcin) Gortat rolling down the middle (got better). (Andrew) Bynum has to be up a little bit higher in pick and roll; we have to try and play at our pace. If we’re getting stops and getting out and running like we did tonight, so be it, but we have to keep doing those three things offensively but also understand how to get stops.

On Kobe being able to carry the offense as he did in the third quarter:
Brown: That’s who he is. When times get tough for us, he’s supposed to carry us. That’s his job, that’s what he gets paid to do. The supporting cast around him is pretty good, starting with Drew and Pau. But at the end of the day, you have a guy like Kobe that you can say ‘Hey, go get me a bucket.’

On if the early struggles could be a good thing for his team:
Brown: Yeah. 18-12 is ideal because we need to struggle, to see if we’re tough enough mentally to withstand all the noise that’s outside our locker room… whether from fans, media whatever. Our guys have to ignore the noise. I knew we were going to get socked on the chin because I didn’t have enough time to figure out what I had; to our guys’ credit, they were searching too*.
*Editor’s note: Brown essentially said that his team has not yet fully arrived, but is getting closer, and that he would bet on his team come playoff time. Kobe then backed up those comments, and Alvin Gentry’s (see below, last question) about no one wanting to play the Lakers in the playoffs, from his locker after the game. Bryant expanded on his thought to say that the Lakers would move up in the standings (they are currently fifth behind OKC, S.A., LAC and Dallas) and would be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time.

MIKE BROWN AT PRACTICE (SATURDAY):
On the difficulty of beating a team twice in a row:
Brown: Those guys are pros and they have pride, so it’s hard to continue to beat a team time after time after time, especially when you’ve beaten them twice already and now you have to come back and play them a third time right away. They’ll be ready for us, the crowd will be ready, and hopefully we can withstand the factors that we’ll face.

ALVIN GENTRY PREGAME:
On Kobe holding a grudge against Phoenix for the playoff losses in 2005 and 2006:
Gentry: Still trying to figure out why. The only people left from (that time) are me and Steve (Nash), and we’re great guys. I know he doesn’t dislike me, and I know he doesn’t dislike Steve, so maybe it’s the purple? Maybe it’s the jersey’s? But not another coach, not another player, not the general manager, not a president … the owner and us are the only ones that are left.

On defending Kobe:
Gentry: You can’t judge him by looking at the stat sheet and saying, ‘Oh we held him to 15 (points),’ because it’s not going to happen. To me, the thing with Kobe is first of all you have to try and keep him off the (foul) line. If he’s making jump shots, he’s making jump shots and it doesn’t matter who is guarding him. You could have the defense lineman from the (New York) Giants guarding him and it’s not going to matter if he’s making his jump shot, so you try to make him work for his shot and then when it goes up, the most important thing is to let that be the end of the possession. Nobody ever controls him. If they did, he wouldn’t lead the league in scoring. He’s pretty consistent in what he does. The offense they run makes it really difficult to try and keep the ball out of his hands.

On if there’s another team with such a difficult low post combination as Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol:
Gentry: I don’t think so, because of the length of both of those guys. There are some teams that may be a little more physical, but as far as the length and then when you take Pau and you add in just the basketball savvy that he has, and that Bynum is still a really young player and has continued to improve, they become very difficult. It’s frightening. These are guys that have been in championship situations and have done extremely well when the ball has come their way.

On Shannon Brown falling out of the regular rotation at times behind Jared Dudley and Michael Redd:
Gentry: It has been (tricky to get him minutes). It becomes extremely tough to play three guys at one position. He’s been unbelievable as a professional about it, and I know he’s not happy about it. Who would be? I as a coach have to be a little bit understanding on his part. We like to try and get him in games, put him in a situation where he can help us with the scoring.

On how he still considers the Lakers a major threat:
Gentry: As long as they have No. 24 they will be thought of that way. Their record doesn’t really matter. They’ll have him, and they have Bynum and Gasol. They haven’t played as well as they have played (in the past), they’ve struggled on the road some, which is a little unusual for them because they’ve always been a really good road team, but at the end of the day, are you telling me that anyone would want to play them in the first round? I don’t think so. I don’t think anybody’s begging to play them in the playoffs in the first round.

Ebanks & McRoberts to Start

The Many Sweater Vests of Mike Brown

In response to a question about how he is different from his predecessor Phil Jackson last week, head coach Mike Brown joked that he knew one thing for sure–his eyeglass collection was superior to Jackson’s.

After Tuesday’s practice in El Segundo, Brown was queried about another part of his personal fashion, the omnipresent sweater vests. As you can see above, Brown has has been sporting a variety of different colored sweater vests around the team’s practice facility. And these are just the ones we caught on camera this week.

“I love sweater vests,” said Brown. “Been wearing them forever.”

But where does he get them? Watch the video below to find out.

Or if you don’t have a free 39 seconds to watch and just want to know, his supplier is new equipment manager Carlos Maples.

Brown’s Three Rules: Offense

On Tuesday, we took a look at Lakers coach Mike Brown’s three primary defensive principles: shrink the floor; don’t give up middle drives; and get multiple efforts to finish with a shot contest.

Here’s what Brown lives by on the other side of the floor:

BROWN’S 3 OFFENSIVE STAPLES:
1) Attack the clock.
Brown: “Let’s get that ball from the back court to the front court within the first three and four seconds. Why? We don’t want to get to our second our third option and see that the shot clock is winding down to two seconds or something like that. We want to get the ball up the floor, and if we can run for a layup, you’ll never see me stop that. My last two years in Cleveland, we were a top 10 and top 5 offensive team in the NBA. We averaged over 100 points a game both those years.”

2) Ball reversal with paint touches.
Brown: “We want to drive and kick, we want to go inside out. We want to put that pressure on our opponent’s defense of letting them know that the ball is going to be down there, because we have guys that can drive it and guys that can post up.”

3) Spacing.
Brown: “You have to have the right spacing in order for guys to be able to operate and go to work.”

Of course, it’s not quite this simple for Brown. These principles are what he “lives and dies by,” he said, but there are other aspects to the game that he and his coaching staff — such as certain elements of the triangle offense — will incorporate into the team’s larger plan.

We’ll be bugging Brown throughout the summer on Lakers.com for some of those details.

Brown’s Three Rules: Defense

Soon enough, we’re going to hear the voice of Mike Brown more than that of anyone else around the Lakers’ organization. After practices. After shootarounds. Before and after games. At his house (OK, made the last one up, but you get the point).

Thus far, we’ve had only a (35-minute) introductory press conference to hear what Brown has in mind for his new team, but that didn’t stop him from outlining his core principles about offensive and defensive basketball at both ends of the floor. In fact, Brown’s specific plans for L.A.’s personnel at both ends of the court were a major factor in his being hired.

Let’s start on defense, where Brown likes to bread his butter (check back on Wednesday for Brown’s three offensive principle).

BROWN’S 3 DEFENSIVE STAPLES:
1) Shrink the floor.
Brown: “We don’t want anything easy to happen in that paint.”

2) Don’t give up middle drives.
Brown: “If the ball gets to the middle of the floor, there are too many outlets. You can go left, you can go right, you can finish at the rim.”

3) Get multiple efforts to finish with a shot contest.
This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but in short, giving up on a play is never an option on defense, from the start of an offensive possession through an opponent’s shot attempt.

In short: “Those three things, my players will hear often, and you guys will hear me say it often,” he concluded. “As long as the group is willing, which it sounds like it is, we’ll get it done.”

Mike Brown on “Lopez Tonight”

As a guest on “Lopez Tonight” with George Lopez, Mike Brown seemed to be having quite a bit of fun.

From his excitement to coaching “angry men,” his phone conversation with Kobe Bryant and his eldest son’s crush on the Kardashian girls, Brown touched on things all across the spectrum. Here’s a quick summary:

On taking over a team with high expectations:
Brown: It’s better. I’m excited about taking this team over because these guys are used to be playing right now. They’re not, so they’re sitting at home trying to avoid the TV. They’re angry men right now. I’d rather have a group of angry men that have a point to prove not only to themselves, but to all these lovely fans in L.A., that hey, we ended our season too early.

On his defensive philosophy, and specific players as assets:
Brown: Sometimes that ball isn’t going to go in the hole, so you gotta get it done on the defensive end of the floor. You gotta bring that effort. There’s a nice foundation in the defensive end of the floor. You have to two big seven footers, you have the versatility of Lamar Odom, you got the mean toughness in big Ron Ron, and then you have the sleekness in my man Kobe Bryant.

On his conversation with Kobe Bryant:
Brown: I texted him and said ‘Kobe, it’s Coach Brown, are you available?’ He hit me back, he was at his daughter’s recital, I said ‘Don’t drop the camcorder, I’ll call you later.’ So I ended up calling him a little later when he got back. We had a great talk. I had a chance to speak with his lovely life Vanessa. She’s from down in the area where my boys are probably going to go to school, and a young lady that we’re taking guardianship over, so she gave me the low down, the scoop of all the schools down there and the places to live and all that other stuff.

On L.A.’s success:
Brown: You gotta give credit to Dr. Buss, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak. They have a sustained level of success that not many teams have not just in basketball, but in all of sports. The Lakers have been (there) year after year after year. You see it and you feel it when you walk into their facilities and you see the championship banners and trophies. They’ve been successful time after time after time with very little downfall.

On his children:
Brown: We have two boys, and there’s a young lady whom we’re taking guardianship over. She’s 17… My oldest boy is Elijah, he’s 16 and going to be a junior. My youngest boy is Cameron, he’s 14 and going to be a freshman next year.

On his son’s Kardashian crush:
Brown: My oldest boy is excited to see Kobe, the Black Mamba and all that, hardest worker … and he said, ‘Dad, I can’t wait to meet Lamar … that’s my man, and that’s my way to the Kardashian sisters.’ I said, Elijah, I don’t know all the sister’s names, but Khloe’s taken, obviously. (Kourtney) is taken. I said, ‘you’re two million dollars short of taking Kim,’ and I said, ‘Who’s left?’ He said, ‘They’ve got some younger sisters.’ I have to apologize to (their father) Bruce (Jenner). My kid’s a good kid, and I’ll make sure he won’t act up.

Brown Has Autonomy in Assistant Search

On Thursday afternoon, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak met with the team’s new selection for head coach, Mike Brown, to discuss Brown’s plans for his coaching staff.

As Kupchak explained to us just before the meeting, the GM’s role in the process differs depending on the experience level of the coach.

“If it were a rookie coach, you’d sit down and spend more time, give him some guidance,” he said. “With a very veteran coach, you probably don’t get involved at all. Mike is somewhere in between, so at the end of the day, I’m going to defer to Mike.”

With an open dialogue between himself and Kupchak, Brown’s support staff will be completed sooner than later.

“He’s earned the right to put together his own staff,” Kupchak continued. “I’d like to know what he’s thinking, why he’s thinking that way, look at options and talk to him about it. He’s been around now for quite some time, and had great success as a head coach for five years, so you defer to a coach like that. He knows what he’s doing.”

During Brown’s introductory press conference, he more than once expressed eagerness to work with Kupchak, for whom he said he’s long had a great deal of respect. But Brown’s focus during his interview with Kupchak and ownership was not so much about Mike Brown as it was Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Co.

“He had very well thought out, pretty convincing ideas before he came and met with us about how to use our players and increase their effectiveness,” said Kupchak. “He wasn’t trying to sell us on him, he was trying to sell us on his vision for the team, defensively and offensively, versus trying to just say, ‘Hey, I’m your guy.’ He had strong feelings about how to use our personnel.”

Kupchak believes Brown will take equal care while assembling his assistants … thus the autonomy.

Barnes Attends Brown Presser, Pledges Return

During his exit interview on May 11, Matt Barnes hinted that he’d be picking up the player option on his contract in order to return to the Lakers.

“I want to win, and I still think this is the best team in the NBA,” he said.

After attending Tuesday’s press conference to introduce new head coach Mike Brown, Barnes was a bit more explicit: “I’ll be a Laker next year.”

Watching the presser for his new coach alongside owner Dr. Jerry Buss and executive VP of player personnel Jim Buss in the front row, Barnes came away impressed with what Brown had to say.

“He’s an open-minded coach, which is good,” said Barnes. “We have a very veteran driven team, and I’m sure guys are going to have their opinions on this and that, and as long as he listens to them and decides what’s best for the team I think he’ll be great.”

Among Brown’s many points in a 40-minute give-and-take session with the media was that he’s coming into the job with a great deal of energy and motivation, thinks he’ll have a very hungry team coming off the loss to Dallas and hopes to have “15 angry men” in training camp.

“Angry” is one way to describe how Barnes has been feeling.

“I’m still sick,” he said. “I haven’t watched a second of basketball, no “SportsCenter” because I know basketball would be on there. I’m still hurt thinking about it: one, the way we exited; and two, not being able to help.”

Yet, Barnes felt a bit better on Tuesday.

“I was energized just coming to (Brown’s) press conference,” he said. “Even thought we’re a long way out, you just get that feeling back that it’s time to go to work. I have no question, no doubt that everyone will come to training camp ready to roll.”

“This Lakers team will have its own way of playing now. We just have to play as hard as we can for him.”

Barnes, who just returned to L.A. from vacation, moved on to discuss the knee he had surgically repaired in January, saying that it “doesn’t hurt” anymore, but still swells up. He doesn’t expect to be able to run or jump for about another month, and had been at the team’s practice facility that morning to get treatment from the Lakers training staff. Fortunately for Barnes, he expects to be back at full speed well before the summer even ends, allowing him to do the thing on the court he says he was unable to upon his initial return from the injury.

New Coach Brown to be Introduced Tuesday

The Lakers released a media advisory on Monday afternoon to announce an introductory press conference for new head coach Mike Brown on Tuesday afternoon at 3:00 p.m.

You’ll be able to watch the press conference live on Lakers.com, and we’ll add coverage on Twitter via the @Lakers and @LakersReporter handles.

The team initially announced last Wednesday that Brown would very likely be the new coach, and Brown took questions during halftime of Thursday’s Western Conference Finals matchup.

Brown saw considerable success in his previous head coaching position with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2005-2010), averaging 54.4 wins per season for a collective 66.3 percent winning percentage, the fifth highest in NBA history. The league’s Coach of the Year after a 66-win season (2008-09), Brown led his Cavs to the Finals in 2007, and made it to at least the second round of the playoffs in all five of his years in the top seat.