Lakers Coach Mike Brown to face former team for first time
The Cleveland Cavaliers who step onto the Staples Center court Friday won’t resemble the group that walked off the floor in defeat under Coach Mike Brown in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Gone from the team that lost to Boston in six games are LeBron James, Mo Williams, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, J.J. Hickson and Shaquille O’Neal. Also missing from the Cavaliers will be Brown, whose team’s collapse in the series after holding a two-games-to-one lead cost him his job.
Brown is now the Lakers’ coach, trying to bring his new team something he could not achieve in Cleveland: an NBA title.
That’s not to say Brown didn’t succeed in his five seasons in Cleveland. He won a franchise-record 66% of his games and took the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007. But he couldn’t win the title that owner Dan Gilbert coveted and had his offensive imagination and player rotations questioned by James.
The always gracious Brown hardly seemed bitter after his dismissal. He thanked Gilbert for his first NBA head coaching opportunity and later said working with James helped prepare him for his next superstar pupil, the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant.
Bryant has slightly upstaged Miami’s James this season, averaging 30.3 points to James’ 29.0 points despite playing with a torn ligament in his right wrist. Bryant’s last two performances have been superlative; 48 points in a victory over Phoenix on Tuesday and 40 in a triumph over Utah the following night.
“They’re both competitive, they both want to win,” Brown said when asked about Bryant and James. “There’s just a different feel to the two guys that it’s hard to put into words right now. They’re both obviously guys that know how to perform at a high level.
“Their games are very different on both ends of the floor, but especially offensively. LeBron is a guy who is still learning and still growing and the reality of it is, being down there with Dwyane Wade is helping him. Every year, every game, he’s getting better.”
The differences carry over to their personalities, Brown said.
“LeBron, he’s a guy that likes to laugh and joke and he knows there’s a time to be serious,” Brown said. “He’s youthful, I guess. That’s probably the word, where Kobe is not as much. Kobe is more serious-minded, but Kobe knows how to have fun in his own way too.”
Bynum an All-Star?
Bryant is the top vote-getter among Western Conference guards in All-Star balloting. No surprise.
But Lakers center Andrew Bynum leads West centers in voting … by a wide margin. Bynum has 496,597 votes, easily outpacing the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, who has 134,961, according to figures released Thursday by the NBA.
Bynum, 24, has never been an All-Star. He is in his seventh NBA season.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol is fourth in voting for West forwards, trailing Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, the Clippers’ Blake Griffin and Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki.
Bryant has 690,613 votes, ahead of second-place vote-getter Chris Paul of the Clippers (540,173). All-Star voting concludes Jan. 31. The All-Star game is Feb. 26 in Orlando.
An MRI exam on Steve Blake showed a fracture of the cartilage that connects the rib to the sternum, and the reserve guard is listed as day to day.
Blake sustained the injury against Phoenix on Tuesday and aggravated it late in the third quarter against Utah on Wednesday. “It hurts to breathe and move and laugh and cough,” Blake said after the game against the Jazz.
Times staff writer Mike Bresnahan contributed to this report.
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.