Even Los Angeles’ interim coach admits that the Lakers could use Phil Jackson right now.
One day after a tough loss, the Lakers try for their first win since Rudy Tomjanovich’s sudden resignation as they visit the struggling Atlanta Hawks.
Tomjanovich resigned as coach of the Lakers on Wednesday citing health reasons. Jackson’s name has been mentioned as a possible replacement, and interim coach Frank Hamblen said Thursday that he would be eager for Jackson to return.
Hamblen, a 57-year-old career assistant who won five championships with the Chicago Bulls and the Lakers under Jackson, reiterated that sentiment before Los Angeles’ 103-102 loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday. Jackson won three consecutive championships as coach of the Lakers.
Lamar Odom scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers lost on Yao Ming’s free throws with 15.2 seconds left. Forward Brian Cook missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds to play as the Lakers opened a five-game road trip.
“My focus just shifted the second half,” Odom said. “I just had to think, ‘To the hole, to the hole’ until I started making plays. Then I knew I was in a rhythm.”
The Lakers fell to 5-6 without Kobe Bryant, who has pulled out his share of last-second wins for the Lakers. Bryant, who is on the injured list with a severely sprained right ankle, has not played since Jan. 13, but Hamblen said that he should return during their current road trip.
Chucky Atkins added 21 for the Lakers, who had five player in double figures.
The Hawks are coming off their third straight loss, an 84-79 defeat to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. Antoine Walker and Al Harrington each scored 26 points for Atlanta, which has lost 10 of its last 12.
“I came back and could have made a couple of plays that I messed up on that could have possibly won the game for us,” Harrington said. “At the end of the day, we applaud the effort, but no cigar.”