Lakers' Mike Brown keeps them guessing with ejection, lineup moves

Reporting from Salt Lake City — The Lakers gathered Sunday in a meeting room inside their Philadelphia hotel to watch the Super Bowl.

It might be the last game the players get to spend with Coach Mike Brown for a while.

Brown could be suspended by the NBA for making contact with a referee in the fourth quarter of the Lakers' 96-87 loss to Utah on Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena.

Upset by a no-call on Earl Watson after the Jazz guard knocked Pau Gasol over while making a steal, Brown bounded onto the court and appeared to bump referee Zach Zarba. The gesture earned Brown two technical fouls and his first ejection of the season.

Just as Brown continues to feel out his players, oddly inserting the increasingly seldom-used Darius Morris and Josh McRoberts in the fourth quarter, the Lakers are still learning about their first-year coach.

This much seems clear: Brown won't sit quietly if he thinks one of his players has been wronged by an official. He earned another technical foul last month when the Clippers' Blake Griffin pushed rookie Morris in mid-air, the coach becoming so animated that he had to be restrained by two assistants.

There was no holding him back Saturday.

"I was trying to give our team some juice and it didn't," Brown said of his ejection. "It cost us points and helped those guys win the game."

Ironically, Brown's technicals came only a few hours after he had discussed the merits of self-restraint with reporters before the game.

"We don't want anybody getting techs because it's giving free points away to our opponents," Brown said. "That's why very seldom do you see me arguing or complaining to the refs because at the end of the day I know they're human and they're going to make mistakes.

"In the same breath, I always try to think of the guys on my team. They're busting their behinds out there and to give away a free point at any point in the game is not good."

Seconds, anyone?

The Lakers' bench continues to sputter when not playing the likes of the Charlotte Bobcats.

The reserves combined for only 12 points against Utah, with point guard Andrew Goudelock enduring one of his worst games of the season. The rookie made a bad pass that resulted in a turnover, shot an airball and was trapped along the sideline before Brown rescued him by calling a timeout … and that was just in the second quarter.

Goudelock, who had averaged 12.2 points over his previous five games, finished with four points on one-for-five shooting to go with only one assist in 18 minutes.

"Sometimes it's tough to watch a rookie out there run your team," Brown said, "especially playing against a veteran group like that."

Goudelock was hardly the only member of the second unit who struggled. Troy Murphy and Jason Kapono combined to miss all five of their shots and McRoberts was a non-factor in four minutes.

Forward Matt Barnes, the most productive reserve with five points and six rebounds, appeared to be upset with coaches when he was removed midway through the fourth quarter.

Sweeter homecoming

Kobe Bryant is getting old in NBA terms, but going home never does. The Philadelphia native has played more than a dozen games in his hometown over his 16-season NBA career, but the visit holds even greater meaning as he approaches retirement.

"I think more now than before because my career has kind of come full circle, so to speak," Bryant said. "You start out 16 years old and now here I am, 33. So I think it's more special now."

How many more times does he think he'll go back to where the Lakers play Monday before calling it a career?

"It's not many," he said. "You can definitely count them on one hand."

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