COMMENTARY | Former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown thinks this year's team still has a chance to turn things around, despite the fact that they will enter NBA All-Star weekend with a sub-.500 record for the first time since the 1993-94 season.
"I think it can be done," Brown said Wednesday, speaking in a telephone interview with "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" on ESPN Radio. "Mike (D'Antoni) has a different philosophy and it's worked for him the many years he's been coaching in the NBA. And I'm sure he'll figure it out, which he's been doing."
Following Tuesday's win vs. the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers sit in 10th place in the Western Conference and 5.5 games behind the Houston Rockets for the final playoff spot. That's a significant ground to make up, especially considering the Lakers' issues on the court and from an injury standpoint.
Los Angeles lost key reserve Jordan Hill for the season with a hip injury and former All-Star Pau Gasol for at least six weeks with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. Dwight Howard continues to play through a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Worse yet, is a seemingly poor fit between D'Antoni and his players. Brown spoke of such later in the interview:
"Then you talk about having two bigs," Brown said speaking of Howard and Gasol. "And both of those bigs are agile and capable runners but they're not the type of runners that you need to have to play in a system that going to score those types of points."
The pieces don't fit, and that's been the most glaring weakness of these Lakers. Personnel problems continue to plague them through ugly losses, spats between players and a season that has been marred by not having any identity to speak of when the Lakers need a go-to scheme.
But Brown didn't pile on, instead choosing to take the high road.
He could have easily done so, as he was fired unfairly after going 1-4 through the Lakers' first five games. Though critics were quick to bash the Princeton offense during that brief stint, L.A. scored relatively capably at 98.8 points per game over that period. By comparison under a more offensive-minded head coach who had visions of averaging 110 points per contest, they're averaging 101.6 and are sixth in the NBA.
It was their defense that plagued them then, and it still does at this point in the season. They've allowed 100.5 points per game to opponents this season, making them 23rd in the league in that aspect. That stems from poor transition defense and not having enough athleticism to keep up with the team speed of the NBA's elite.
The Lakers have been through a perfect storm of adversity with their biggest issues exposed. Aging stars and a systematic non-fit can't be solved in the course of half a season. But as Brown indicated, the Lakers still have time to do enough to sneak into the postseason.
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