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Fans’ ire makes players angry

Times Staff Writer

The boos that rained down on Kwame Brown were the first in recent memory to be directed at a Lakers player at a home game, an event that seemed to stun, if not anger, practically everybody connected to the organization.

Brown had eight points and six rebounds and drew the ire of fans early when he missed a layup a few minutes into the Lakers’ 106-98 loss Thursday to the Phoenix Suns. Fans were increasingly perturbed when he missed a dunk in the third quarter and began booing whenever he touched the ball after a series of turnovers.

He had seven turnovers in the game, four in the third quarter, and left with 3:50 to play in the third. Brown did not return.

“I haven’t seen anything like that,” Jordan Farmar said. “I hope I don’t see it anymore. That’s not a real fan. He’s our teammate. You should want him to be successful and cheer him on, try to get behind him and give him enthusiasm and energy rather than try to pull him down. I think you really need to change that if you’re a real Laker fan.”

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Brown left without talking to reporters after the game. The Lakers did not practice Friday.

“I thought it was terrible,” Kobe Bryant said after the game. “If [fans] want to do that, they can stay home. He’s going to be our guy for two months. Kwame’s sensitive -- you boo him, it’s going to affect him. I told him I’ve got his back.”

The Suns seem to draw out seldom-seen raucous behavior from Lakers crowds, perhaps because of the lingering tensions between the teams that trace back through two seasons of playoff battles.

Toward the end of the Lakers’ 122-115 victory on Dec. 25 at Staples Center, fans offered up a rarely heard derisive chant toward an opponent.

But even Lakers Coach Phil Jackson seemed bewildered by what he heard Thursday, saying he had never experienced such a thing for a player he was coaching in front of a home crowd. “I wanted to let him work himself out of it . . . but it wasn’t going to happen. Not tonight,” Jackson said.

Of course, part of the fans’ anger was directed at Brown for not being a capable replacement for Andrew Bynum.

Even the players missed the 20-year-old center.

“It’s tough,” Farmar said. “He’s definitely a big presence. We definitely missed him. He’s a big-time player in this league now.”

Luke Walton was scoreless against Phoenix a day after being removed from practice by Jackson because of a sore right ankle that wouldn’t allow him to run at full speed. “This may be something that goes on,” Jackson said. “It may be something we have to keep track of during the season.”

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com


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