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Hamblen’s at a Loss to Explain It

Times Staff Writer

Frank Hamblen, in his 35th season of coaching, has been part of every possible plot line over the years.

Losing hasn’t been one of them for a long time.

Hamblen spent the previous five seasons as an assistant to Phil Jackson with the Lakers -- combined regular-season record: 287-123 -- and before that was with Jackson for two championship seasons with the Chicago Bulls.

But Hamblen is 4-7 since taking over for Rudy Tomjanovich, who abruptly resigned Feb. 2.

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“It’s never easy,” Hamblen said. “Going into the season, changing our team, I think there’s a different view by our whole organization. We still certainly want to win and finish as high up in the playoffs as we could, but just changing the team as dramatically as we did, there’s no given. But we have our bright spots too. We’re still in the playoffs and I know it’s a tough schedule the rest of the way, but we’re still right there.”

Hamblen acknowledged the difficulties in changing offenses on the fly, as in the move from Tomjanovich’s three-point scheme to the triangle offense.

“It’s a hard task when you don’t have an opportunity to plan and all of a sudden you’re thrust into a position,” Hamblen said. “You normally have an off-season to plan and get yourself ready for the foundation of your season, and it didn’t happen.”

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Hamblen had some advice for point guard Chucky Atkins, who was irritated after a lopsided loss Friday to the Detroit Pistons. Atkins felt the Lakers were too intent on running the triangle instead of attacking the basket when easy opportunities arose.

“We talked to him about finding his way though the triangle,” Hamblen said. “It just takes time. If you initiate the offense, sometimes the ball doesn’t come back to you. He’ll find his spots and he’ll have opportunities.”

Atkins, who had nine points against Detroit, had 22 Sunday against the Toronto Raptors.

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TONIGHT

at New York, 4:30 PST (Ch. 9, 5:30)

Site -- Madison Square Garden.

Radio -- XTRA (570); KWKW (1330).

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Records -- Lakers 28-26, Knicks 23-33.

Record vs. Knicks (2003-04) -- 2-0.

Update -- The Knicks have fallen well off the playoff pace in the East. Guards Stephon Marbury (21.1 points a game) and Jamal Crawford (18.4 points) are the only Knicks averaging more than 12 points. Forward Trevor Ariza, who left UCLA after his freshman season, is averaging 6.1 points and has started 12 games.


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