Warriors-Lakers Preview


Apparently, the Los Angeles Lakers weren't prepared to wait more than five games for things to turn around.

Having fired coach Mike Brown following a 1-4 start, Los Angeles takes on the visiting Golden State Warriors on Friday night.

The stunning dismissal of Brown came just hours before this game and very early in his second season as Lakers coach. Assistant Bernie Bickerstaff will take over on an interim basis, though a search for a new coach will begin immediately.

"This was a difficult and painful decision to make," general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "Mike was very hard-working and dedicated, but we felt it was in the best interest of the team to make a change at this time. We appreciate Mike's efforts and contributions and wish him and his family the best of luck."

Los Angeles began the season with championship expectations after trading for center Dwight Howard and point guard Steve Nash, adding two superstars alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. However, signs of trouble surfaced quickly with the club going 0-8 in the preseason for the first time in franchise history.

The Lakers went on to lose their first three regular-season games, and after finally winning last Sunday, looked listless again in a 95-86 loss at Utah on Wednesday.

"We're all frustrated," Brown said after that game.

Los Angeles hasn't had Nash for the last three contests due to a bruised shin, and the club had been trying to adjust to Brown's new Princeton-style offense. The new-look roster also appeared to be in the process of trying to mesh, as the Lakers rank near the top of the league with 93 turnovers and went 4 of 23 from 3-point range Wednesday.

Brown guided Los Angeles to a 41-25 mark and into the second round of the playoffs in 2011-12.

Bryant, who finished with 29 points but missed all four of his 3-point attempts versus the Jazz, is averaging 27.2 points and shooting 56.0 percent despite a nagging foot injury.

Howard is putting up 22.4 points per game but has failed to record double-digit rebounds in three straight. He's averaging 9.6 boards - 3.4 below his career mark.

He has averaged 27.0 points and 18.3 rebounds in his last four versus Golden State, while Bryant is averaging 34.6 points and 50.4 percent shooting in his last five against the Warriors. Bryant scored a combined 79 points in two home wins over Golden State last season.

Howard might have an easier time in the paint Friday with Warriors center Andrew Bogut out. Bogut missed all four meetings with the Lakers last season after fracturing his ankle, and though he's played in four games this season, he'll sit out the next week to 10 days to get some added rest.

Looking for a fifth straight victory over the Warriors (3-2) and 17th in 18 meetings, Los Angeles has won 33 of 36 meetings at Staples Center. The Lakers have averaged 114.1 points and won their last eight at home in the series by 13.5 points per game.

Golden State is 2-1 on the road and looks to build on a 106-96 home victory over Cleveland on Wednesday. David Lee played through flu-like symptoms to record 22 points, 14 rebounds and six assists while Stephen Curry scored 21 as the Warriors prevailed despite blowing a 17-point lead.

"These are those games that you have to have when you look back on the season,'' guard Jarrett Jack said. "You can't be like, 'Ah, this is one of those games that we kind of gave away.' No matter who's in uniform, you have to go out with that mindset that we have to get this 'W' no matter the situation is.''

Lee has scored 42 points in the last two games after totaling 30 in the first three. He's averaged 21.8 and 10.8 boards in his last four versus Los Angeles.

Curry is averaging a team-high 17.4 points but shooting 36.7 percent. He missed all four meetings with the Lakers last season.

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