Lakers fire coach, then rout Warriors
Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes, second from left, goes up for a shot as Los Angeles Lakers center Jordan Hill, left, and forward Pau Gasol, second from right, of Spain, defend and Warriors forward David Lee watches during the first half of their NBA basketball game, Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
The Associated Press
Published Saturday, November 10, 2012 10:22AM EST
LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant scored 27 points, Pau Gasol added 14 points and 16 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers responded to coach Mike Brown's firing earlier Friday with a 101-77 victory over the Golden State Warriors.
Jordan Hill scored 14 points for the Lakers, who had just a few hours to absorb Brown's dismissal after just 18 months on the job. Following a bumpy first half under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, they pulled away in the third quarter with a 25-9 run led by Bryant, who also had nine rebounds and seven assists.
Stephen Curry scored 18 points and Klay Thompson had 15 for the Warriors, who have lost five straight to the Lakers overall, and nine straight at Staples Center since March 2008.
The comfortable victory doubled the Lakers' victory total for the season and capped one of the most tumultuous days in recent history for a franchise that's never short on drama.
With the talented veteran club off to a Western Conference-worst 1-4 start after a winless preseason, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and owner Jim Buss abruptly dismissed Brown, informing the players during their morning shootaround.
Bickerstaff ran the Lakers as the interim coach, but the veteran NBA bench boss isn't likely to be a candidate for the full-time job. Kupchak is searching for a replacement, possibly making a selection before the Lakers' next game on Sunday against Sacramento.
The Lakers' crowd quickly made its choice known: A chant of "We want Phil!" rose out of the stands while Bryant shot a free throw in the third quarter.
Phil Jackson, the 11-time NBA champion coach who won five rings in two previous stints running the Lakers, is near the top of Kupchak's list again, the GM acknowledged. Mike D'Antoni, the former Knicks and Suns coach, also is thought to be a prime candidate.
Dwight Howard had six points and eight rebounds while playing just 24 minutes for the Lakers in his ongoing return from off-season back surgery. Steve Nash, the other major addition to the club, watched from behind the Lakers' bench, missing his fourth straight game with a small fracture in his leg.
Brown never got the chance to integrate the two stars into his new offence while they were dogged by health issues. Kupchak and Buss still needed to see more success than the Lakers managed in the past six weeks, particularly on defence -- and Los Angeles limited the Warriors to 33.7-per cent shooting.
The Lakers' offensive struggles evaporated in the third quarter while they leaped to an 18-point lead over the undermanned Warriors, who struggled to contend inside without injured centre Andrew Bogut.
Darius Morris had career highs of 10 points and five rebounds while playing the majority of the Lakers' minutes at point guard. Los Angeles' reserves have been largely ineffective during Brown's tenure, but Morris and Hill led a spirited effort against the Warriors, outscoring their counterparts with Golden State 37-17.
NOTES: Lakers F Devin Ebanks was inactive after getting arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs early Friday morning. Rookie Darius Johnson-Odom made his NBA debut in the final minutes. ... Warriors C Andris Biedrins came up roughly 2 feet short on an airballed free throw in the first half. The Latvian veteran has a career free-throw shooting percentage just over 50 per cent. ... Brown went 42-29 with the Lakers, coaching them to the second round of the playoffs during the strike-shortened season before his abbreviated start to this fall.