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NBA notebook: Lakers fire coach Mike Brown after 1-4 start

Associated Press The Los Angeles Lakers fired coach Mike Brown on Friday after a 1-4 start to his second season in charge. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak announced the surprising move several hours before they hosted Golden State. Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff will coach the Lakers against the Warriors while the club’s top brass searches for Brown’s replacement after just 18 months in charge. “The bottom line is that the team is not winning at the pace we expected this team to win, and we didn’t see improvement,” Kupchak said. 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. But the Lakers went 0-8 during the preseason last month for the first time in franchise history before stumbling into the regular season with an 0-3 start. After finally beating Detroit last Sunday for their first win, the Lakers looked listless again in a loss at Utah on Wednesday, dropping to last place in the Western Conference. Los Angeles’ defense has been largely poor, and the players still haven’t figured out the new offense installed by Brown during training camp. Combined with their aging core of talent and a massive payroll, Kupchak and owners Jim and Jerry Buss decided they couldn’t wait another game to start winning. Brown, whom the Cavaliers fired as coach in 2010, was dismissed in a morning meeting. Brown was hired in May 2011 to replace 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson, signing a four-year deal worth roughly $18 million in May 2011. “I have great respect for the Buss family and the Lakers’ storied tradition, and I thank them for the opportunity they afforded me,” Brown said in a statement issued by the Lakers. Brown is a protégé of San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. He led Cleveland to the 2007 NBA finals and went 272-138 with the Cavaliers, becoming the most successful coach in franchise history while compiling the league’s best regular-season record in each of his last two seasons. Kupchak said he hadn’t reached out to any candidates, but thinks it’s likely the Lakers will hire an experienced coach who isn’t currently working.

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