Stein: Lakers interested in Mike Brown

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Here’s the report, according to the ultra-reliable Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

The Los Angeles Lakers are taking a deliberate approach to their search for a successor to Phil Jackson, but NBA coaching sources told ESPN.com the team has added Mike Brown to its list of candidates.

The former Cleveland Cavaliers coach, now working as an analyst for ESPN, is expected to interview “soon” with the Lakers, sources say.

Brown would become the fourth known candidate for the job, along with former Houston Rockets coach Rick Adelman, ex-Los Angeles Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy and Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw, who is regarded as the only serious in-house contender to replace Jackson.

Brown would certainly be an interesting choice for the Lakers. Brown, a former San Antonio assistant, is known for being a defense-first coach with limited offensive skills. That’s not a reputation he deserves.

Brown’s teams were mediocre offensively when his starting backcourt consisted of Eric Snow and Larry Hughes. Show me a coach who can get a good offense going while starting Eric Snow and Larry Hughes, and I’ll show you a miracle worker. Once the Cavaliers acquired Mo Williams and Delonte West before the 2008-09 season, they became very good offensively. In fact, the Cavaliers posted a better offensive efficiency mark in both the 2008-09 and 09-10 season than the Lakers did last year.

Brown’s offense was often reliant on LeBron James, but isn’t that just Occam’s Razor at work? As we saw this season, the Cavaliers did not have a lot of player capable of creating shots on their own around James. And it was hard enough for Erik Spoelstra to get LeBron to buy into playing off the ball while he was surrounded by Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh; should Mike Brown really be thought less of for not getting James to work with Mo Williams as the other primary ballhandler? Brown can coach on both ends of the floor, and his poor offensive reputation is a complete travesty.

The main issue with Brown for the Lakers is whether he’s done enough to earn the respect of the Laker veterans, namely Kobe Bryant. Even though Kobe’s matured over the years, he’s still prone to hijacking the offense and doing things his own way, and he may not want to listen to a coach with 11 less rings than his previous one.

Even though Rick Adelman hasn’t won a championship either (thanks to Kobe, one could argue), but he’s been a head coach much longer than Brown has, and that extra experience could prove invaluable when coaching a veteran team like the Lakers. Plus, the Princeton offense was built for skilled high-post players like Pau Gasol. Adelman should still be the Lakers’ first choice, but Brown would do a better job in Los Angeles than most think he would.

LeBron James passes Wilt Chamberlain for fifth on all-time scoring list

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LeBron James followed Wilt Chamberlain’s footsteps in establishing himself as a great player then joining the Lakers.

Now, LeBron has passed Chamberlain on the all-time scoring list.

LeBron scored 44 points in the Lakers’ win over the Trail Blazers on Wednesday to move ahead of Chamberlain for fifth in career points. LeBron now trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.

The leaderboard:

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LeBron had his finest game with the Lakers on Wednesday, posting 44 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and three blocks in a 126-117 victory. He tried and failed to get a triple-double late, but he still got the win and an enhanced place in NBA history.

Next up for LeBron: Jordan, the only top-six all-time scorer who never played for the Lakers.

76ers lose Jimmy Butler’s, Timberwolves win Robert Covington’s and Dario Saric’s first games with new teams

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Jimmy Butler had 14 points in his Philadelphia debut, but the 76ers collapsed late and lost at Orlando, 111-106, after Terrence Ross hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 8.7 seconds left that helped the Magic finish off a big comeback Wednesday night.

Orlando scored 21 straight points in the fourth quarter, then held the 76ers without a field goal over the final 3 1/2 minutes.

Nikola Vucevic had 30 points for the Magic, including two free throws with 5.8 seconds remaining.

Joel Embiid finished with a triple-double of 19 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for the 76ers, who lost for the seventh time in nine road games. J.J. Redick led Philadelphia with 22 points but committed two turnovers in the final 31 seconds.

Butler played 33 minutes and shot 6 for 12 from the field. The four-time All-Star was acquired Monday from Minnesota in a five-player trade.

Meanwhile in Minneapolis, the Timberwolves improved to 2-0 since trading Butler with a 107-100 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points and 16 rebounds. Andrew Wiggins scored 23.

The game was Minnesota’s first with forwards Robert Covington and Dario Saric. They were acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers along with injured guard Jerryd Bayless in exchange for the disgruntled Butler.

The trade was completed Monday, meaning Covington and Saric did not join their new teammates in time for the Timberwolves’ 120-113 victory over Brooklyn that night.

Covington started Wednesday, scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds. He drained a pair of long, catch-and-shoot 3s in the third quarter as the Timberwolves were trying to hold off a Pelicans comeback.

E'Twaun Moore scored a season-high 31 and Anthony Davis had 29 points and 11 rebounds for the Pelicans, who had won three straight.

TIP-INS

76ers: Embiid made all three of his 3-pointers in the first 4:09 of the game. … Ben Simmons is 23 for 28 (.821) from the foul line at home, and 22 for 44 (.500) on the road.

Magic: F Jonathan Isaac played 16 minutes after missing six games with a sprained right ankle. … By winning for the fifth time in seven games, the Magic broke a four-game losing streak against the 76ers.

Pelicans: C Nikola Mirotic returned after missing two games with a right ankle sprain. He had 16 points and 10 boards. . Head coach Alvin Gentry said PG Elfrid Payton is close to returning from his own right ankle sprain, but he sat out his ninth straight game.

Timberwolves: The win was Minnesota’s fifth straight against New Orleans. . G Derrick Rose (left knee soreness) did not dress after playing 39 minutes in the win over Brooklyn on Monday. Rose is averaging 19.2 points and 4.8 assists per game this season. . Teague played for the second time in three days after missing six games with a bruised left knee.

UP NEXT

76ers: Home against Utah on Friday night.

Magic: Home against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.

Pelicans: Host the New York Knicks on Friday night.

Timberwolves: Host the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

PBT Extra: Philadelphia has Jimmy Butler. Now what?

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Not long after the trade sending Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia was announced, there were some Sixers fans were on Twitter planning the championship parade route.

Reality, of course, is never quite so simple. The Orlando Magic made that clear knocking off Philadelphia in Butler’s debut.

What should we expect from these Sixers now? I get into it in this latest PBT Extra. Expect exceptional defense. However, are the big three of Buter/Joel Embiid/Ben Simmons willing to make the sacrifices necessary to their game to win at the highest level? We will see.

Reggie Bullock game-winner gives Pistons coach Dwane Casey victory in return to Toronto

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Revenge is a dish best served with two seconds left in a tie game.

Pistons coach Dwane Casey – certainly not thrilled with the Raptors firing him earlier this year – guided his new team to a 106-104 win in his return to Toronto tonight. Detroit erased a 19-point second-half deficit and got the ball with two seconds left, giving Casey and Reggie Bullock chances to shine.

Casey drew up a great play, an alley-oop to Glenn Robinson III. But Pascal Siakam made an even better play to knock the ball out of bounds.

The Pistons’ second play of the possession proved even more effective, as Bullock slipped toward the rim and hit the game-winner.

What a satisfying victory for Casey.