The Los Angeles Lakers will again be without Rudy Tomjanovich, and they may have to get used to that.
With Tomjanovich still ill and considering retiring, the Lakers face the Portland Trail Blazers for the first time this season.
Tomjanovich missed Sunday’s victory over Charlotte because of a stomach virus. Health problems are the reason Tomjanovich, who returned to the coaching ranks this season after recovering from bladder cancer, is thinking about not returning.
“He’s considering several options and resigning is one of them. That decision has not been made,” Lakers spokesman John Black said. “There won’t be an announcement tonight. He won’t coach tonight because he’s not feeling well. This has nothing to do with cancer.”
Frank Hamblen, the only holdover from former coach Phil Jackson’s staff and the only current assistant with experience as an NBA head coach, took over for Tomjanovich on Sunday. He will coach the team again Tuesday.
Center Chris Mihm outplayed Charlotte’s rookie of the year candidate Emeka Okafor, who shot just 2-for-10 before leaving late in the game with an ankle injury. Mihm had 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots as Los Angeles improved to 4-4 since Kobe Bryant sprained his right ankle Jan. 13 in a victory over Cleveland.
Bryant was on the bench with his teammates for the first time since his injury because it was the first time he didn’t need continuous therapy on the ankle.
“I’m used to seeing Rudy jumping around and being vocal out there, so it was it was strange not seeing him,” Mihm said. “But Frank did a great job. He commanded a presence. He kept guys under control, made subs when he needed to and made sure we didn’t panic out there.”
Mihm’s defensive play helped the Lakers hold the Bobcats to less than 42 percent (38-of-91) from the floor. Los Angeles had allowed at least 100 points in six of its previous seven games.
“We needed to win, by any means. It was our longest losing streak of the year, so of course it felt good,” said Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who has totaled 31 points, 22 rebounds and 15 assists in his last two games. “Chris Mihm played really well, and we needed a game like that from him. He was all over the boards, blocking shots—he was everywhere.”
Portland also had a solid defensive effort in its last game, a 90-86 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night. Joel Przybilla had 10 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks, and Theo Ratliff had seven blocks as the Trail Blazers held the Clippers to 42.5 percent (34-of-80) from the field.
Damon Stoudamire had 18 of his 22 points in the second half as Portland rallied from a 12-point third-quarter deficit and won for the second time in three games following a season-high six-game winning streak.
“They had to dig down and find something inside them to win that game,” Portland coach Maurice Cheeks said. “I wanted that one more than normal.”
Prior to Friday’s game, swingman Darius Miles was suspended by the team for two games after an argument with Cheeks the previous day.
“Coach is a great guy and he hates when it comes to something like this with the players, because he’s all for the players,” Ratliff said.