Brown gets pleasant reception
All the right things were said beforehand, Kwame Brown’s first game since the boos cast around Staples Center displaced the injury being mourned by those around the team.
Brown committed too many turnovers, missed too many easy shots and permitted the crowd’s cascade of boos affect his play too much.
It shouldn’t have happened.
“It’s over with,” Brown said. “I’m just a little upset with myself that I let it bother me as much as it did. It kind of got me into a cycle of turnovers. I’ve got to just come out and play hard.”
He was talking, of course, of his seven turnovers and several missed shots against the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, his first home game since replacing injured Andrew Bynum when the boos greeted his miscues.
Teammates rallied around him and Brown owned up to his mistakes.
Against the Denver Nuggets on Monday, the lights dimmed, the starters were announced and the audience . . . cheered Brown’s introduction.
Not as loud as the applause for Kobe Bryant, but there were no discernible hisses or hoots.
And the approval grew louder when Brown converted two easy baskets early, both dunks, both assisted by Lamar Odom. A miss off the backboard then followed an awkward-looking jump shot.
The crowd stayed behind him and booed his involvement only when officials called an offensive foul after Brown made a layup and when he had the ball stripped away.
Brown is only listed an inch shorter than Andrew Bynum, but is trying to fill a much larger shoe size.
With Bynum sidelined at least eight weeks because of a knee injury and Chris Mihm out at least another week, the Lakers have few other options.
Brown is in the last season of a three-year, $24.9-million contract, and saddled with high expectations throughout his career, beginning when Michael Jordan picked him for the Washington Wizards as the No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft.
“Life isn’t fair,” Brown said of the expectations. “It’s not about fair or unfair. I have a job to do for the team and I allowed something like a boo to get me out of a game plan and stop playing. That’s what I can’t do. Whether they boo or not, I got to go out there and play hard and run the court.”
Coach Phil Jackson spoke before the game of a recovery for Brown, as though he were his injured center.
“I told him I expect a good game,” Jackson said. “I expect a recovery. He’s a professional and this is part of what guys do that are pros. They come back out and play well and rebound. It’s not going to be easy at home.
“Definitely, there’s got to be a little anxiety there. That’s natural. But we very much decided that this is not going to be any different than anything else. We’re going to go into him if he’s open, and expect him to do some things.”
Brown did some things, fumbled some others. In the third quarter, Marcus Camby blew past him for a dunk and Jackson quickly replaced Brown with Ronny Turiaf.
Brown finished with seven points, 11 rebounds and two turnovers. He didn’t play in the fourth quarter.
“He had some moments when he played well, got after it, got some rebounds,” Jackson said of Brown. “He got involved in the game and never got lost in it. That was important.”
An average night, but not one that matches the output of the rapidly improving Bynum.
Still, the Staples Center crowd stood behind Brown, almost apologetically so.
Early on during a moment of relative quietness, a male fan’s baritone voice resonated throughout the Staples Center sellout crowd of 18,997.
“I love you Kwame,” he yelled.
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Tell of a trade
Kwame Brown was acquired by the Lakers in a four-player trade with Washington in 2005. In the deal, the Lakers gave up forward Caron Butler and guard Chucky Atkins for Laron Profit and Brown. A comparison between Brown and Butler since the trade:
*--* BROWN WITH THE LAKERS G GS PTS REB FG% 2005-06 72 49 7.4 6.6 52.6 2006-07 41 28 8.4 6.0 59.1 2007-08 17 8 5.3 5.1 51.4 *--*
*--* BUTLER WITH THE WIZARDS G GS PTS REB FG% 2005-06 75 54 17.6 6.2 45.5 2006-07 63 63 19.1 7.4 46.3 2007-08 37 37 21.7 6.9 48.3 *--*