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Brown rises to challenge in second half

Times Staff Writer

Kwame Brown knew he was in for a tough night when asked ahead of time whether he would be guarding Tim Duncan.

“Unfortunately, yes,” he said.

Fortunately for the Lakers, Brown came up large in the second half of the Lakers’ 106-99 victory Sunday against San Antonio.

He finished with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists after going scoreless with one rebound and one assist in the first half.

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“Maybe it was the meditation we had this morning,” said Brown, referring to a group visualization exercise proctored by Coach Phil Jackson at the team shoot-around earlier in the day.

More likely, it was a one-on-one chat he and Jackson had after the first half. “He told me to be more aggressive,” Brown said. “Being more aggressive on offense made me more aggressive on defense.”

Brown played well at both ends in the fourth quarter, creating a fastbreak basket by Luke Walton after blocking Tony Parker’s shot with 2:49 to play. The final blow for the Spurs came when Brown dunked a miss by Lamar Odom with 1:06 to play for a 102-95 lead.

Andrew Bynum covered for Brown in the first half with six points and seven rebounds. Then it was Brown’s turn.

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“He felt like [the] first half, he wasn’t as active as he wanted to be,” Jackson said. “I talked [with Brown] a little bit at the end of the first half. ... [Bynum] went out there and played well and got us going and gave us a game in the middle a little bit, and I think it got Kwame going in the second half.”

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Maybe Jackson is a secret member of the Allen Iverson fan club, or maybe he was looking to give the media something to write about, but he did not discount the possibility of the Lakers’ trading for the Philadelphia 76ers guard.

“The owner that has been here with the Lakers has always been a person that has looked at All-Star talent as something that he can accommodate, and that he is willing to accommodate,” Jackson said. “I wouldn’t just say outright we have no interest.”

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Lakers sources, however, emphatically said the team was not interested in acquiring Iverson, who has two years and $42 million on his contract after this season.

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Jackson included the three Texas teams in an assessment of elite Western Conference teams almost one-fourth of the way through the regular season.

“We have three or four teams that are going to be good in this conference this year,” Jackson said. “Phoenix. Utah has shown that they’ve got the mettle and tenacity, and they’re deep enough to be a good team. Dallas and San Antonio are going to be good. Houston has a chance.”

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Forward Vladimir Radmanovic was cleared to play Sunday despite suffering a sprained right ankle in Saturday’s practice. He did not, however, enter the game.

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

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