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Mike Brown defends himself, Princeton-style offense

Nov 1, 2012, 10:56 AM EDT

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Mike Brown should be glad there is not an election next Tuesday on his status as Lakers coach.

To say Lakers fans are livid after an ugly 0-2 start would be to underestimate the level of frustration around the City of Angels. It’s not just that the Lakers lost — although that is never accepted well — but how they lost. It’s been ugly. They have been outworked for two straight games by teams with less talent.

Taking the brunt of the blame is Brown’s implementation of a Princeton-style offense — a system based on passing big men and cuts off the ball that had a lot of success after the college where it got its name because it allowed smart but less-athletic teams to compete with the big boys.

Except that while the Lakers have big boy athletes they’re not playing flowing basketball — they are thinking and not simply reacting. It led to a poor shooting first game and 25 turnovers against Portland on Wednesday. They have Steve Nash and Dwight Howard but have run few classic pick-and-roll sets.

Leading the new crusade against the offense were Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal on Inside the NBA on TNT after the Lakers first loss. Barkley said he wants his accountants from Princeton, not his offense. Mike Brown laughed off the criticism, reports Mark Medina at the Los Angeles Daily News.

“I’ve been criticized by those guys before. It’s okay,” Brown said with a laugh. “It comes with the territory. I think they’re funny guys. They’re very funny and a joy to watch on TV for a lot of people. I’m okay with that….

“The first thing is with our offense, every time down the floor — and if they want to, they can call Steve Nash and ask him — Steve Nash has the right to play pick and roll if he wants to,” Brown said. “He has said it himself that he doesn’t feel like he’s as burdened because he doesn’t have to make every play for everybody all the time with what we’re trying to do. He can give it up and still have a chance to get it back. He’s said that he feels as fresh as he’s ever felt in his career because he doesn’t feel the pressure of making every single play.”

Nash said that. He also said he deferred to much and tried to get the Princeton sets going rather than calling his own number and that he needed to be more aggressive. He said he was thinking too much.

Last season the Lakers ran more traditional NBA sets and thought teams defended those too easily. Kobe Bryant and others wanted a return to a read-and-react offense. But when you have an abundance of talent simple makes some sense. It’s old Vince Lombardi football theory — you can run the power sweep all the time, and if you have the talent and can execute it the other team will not be able to stop it even if they know it is coming.

But now the Lakers are committed to the more complex series where Nash is supposed to push the ball on the break and then if it’s not there choose between pick-and-roll or Princeton or other standard sets. I can’t imagine why that is taking a while to get down.

But the Lakers knew the offense might take a while to come on line, it was their defense that was going to keep them afloat until then. Of course, through two games the Lakers defense has been worse than the Bobcats’ last season (literally, they are giving up five more points per 100 possessions than the worst team in NBA history). Part of that is the turnovers leading to easy buckets. And part of that is Dwight Howard is not right and a dominant defensive force. And part of it is effort.

It’s a whole lot of things that have the Lakers 0-2. And while it’s too early to panic or vote Mike Brown out of his chair (he’s lucky the patient Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak have the only votes that count) the Lakers have a lot of things to fix.

  1. bringbackkosar - Nov 1, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Subtraction by addition! Pat Riley must be laughing his ass off

  2. ohsoblessed1 - Nov 1, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    Brown is suspect to me. It’s been two years and is team is still figuring it out. C’mon! Where is Phil. I bet you he would win with this talent. Just asking, who do you all think should be the next coach for the Lakers?

    • cosanostra71 - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:48 PM

      The issue with this article is that the Lakers’ biggest problem in their first two games has been a complete inability to defend. Their offense, while not perfect, has been decent. They are shooting close to 50% on the year. However, they look confused and lost on defense. I thought that was supposed to be Mike Brown’s specialty?

  3. jimsjam33 - Nov 1, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Byron Scott or Phil Jackson . End of discussion !

    • BigBeachBall - Nov 1, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      kurt rambis

      • cosanostra71 - Nov 1, 2012 at 7:59 PM

        Rambis has shown nothing that suggests he would be a successful head coach. He is a good assistant but not the best in the lead chair, kind of like Mike Brown.

  4. 1972wasalongtimeago - Nov 1, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    To every Laker fan who posted a comment after every Heat loss/setback/awkward quote/perceived failure……not so much fun when every 2 minutes there’s a story about how your team is on the brink of implosion and disaster is it.

    So nice that we don’t have to win every game and be perfect doing it anymore. No “Fire Spo” talk. No “LBJ/WADE can’t co-exist” talk. No “Ringless” talk. Nothing. All they have now is “bandwagon fans” or “LeBron’s Hairline” talk which when you have nothing to say, is all you can say.

    Going to be a great year. Not for L.A., of course. I don’t think they’ll be able to hold up under the pressure. Dwight Howard isn’t mentally strong enough. Kobe and Nash don’t have time machines. Buss doesn’t have Mike Brown’s back like Riley/Arison had Spo’s, and he will never win the fans over. But in Miami, our team, is going to be a joy to watch.

    • savvybynature - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:21 PM

      Another Heat fan who still feels like a victim. Yawn.

    • miamatt - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:54 PM


      Spot on, my friend, spot on… I can appreciate how ludicrous it is that all of a sudden this Laker team “sucks”, and everybody has a reason why it will NEVER work…

      Wonderful to have an amazing team in our backyard to watch… don’t know if it would be better for Miami to be the team to stomp the Lakers out in the Finals, or to watch them collapse without even getting there… hmmm…

    • cantonbound13 - Nov 1, 2012 at 5:15 PM

      Here come the sensitive, bandwagon Heat fans. I must say you are aweful proud of your 2 questionable championships. The first came with Tim Donaghey admitting he fixed games as the official & Diva Wade breaks the record for freethrow attempts in a finals series. The second comes in a lockout shortened season. In a season where Vince McMahon, I mean David Stern, rejects a trade sending the best point guard in the NBA to the Lakers. Why did Stern reject the trade? Because clearly it would have ruined a chance for LeBron to be given his first ring.
      ’72, I would think that you would know what a true championship team is. Your name referrs to the perfect 72 Dolphins, right? How can you gloat when your Heat are no where near being a clear cut championship team?

  5. moseskkim - Nov 1, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    Mike brown defends? He should help the lakers defend the pick n roll.

  6. joshm5683 - Nov 1, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    As a Lakers fan, the defense worries me more than anything. They are scoring fine and are being pretty efficient, I think Kobe is well over 50% shooting…..they need to cut down on turnovers which will come in time. The defense is a mess though, like really bad. D12 just doesn’t seem right, maybe hes still healing and getting his legs under him, because he was out so long, but he doesn’t look right out there. He missed 2 dunks in the 1st game and 1 in the 2nd, and we’re not talking people around him trying to do a crazy acrobatic dunk, those I would look past……..these are point blank all alone under the hoop type dunks. I also kept hearing about how much he would help the pick n roll defense, but he has been really slow recovering and very indecisive about when to come and help. This isn’t all on D12, the Lakers wings could make it easier by trying to stay in front of their guys and fighting through more screens without fouling……..but man that defense is a mess. After the 1st 2 games I want to know more of what Mike Brown is doing to correct that rather than an offense thats shot over 50% those same games.

  7. lakerluver - Nov 1, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    I have more faith in Mike B., Mitch and Jim Buss than I do in Chucklehead Barkley, Shaq and Jet. Yeah, those dudes played the game but very few great former players make great coaches, owners or G.M.’s.

  8. paulhargis53 - Nov 1, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    It’s funny how you castigate fellow posters for their
    “expertise” when they don’t agree with you. Now Barkley et al are know nothing’s too because they don’t agree with your pov….how hypocritical….

    Yet you sing the praises of Magic, who has also never coached or been in a meaningful front office position.

    God what an annoying pos you are.

    You remind me of Kevin Bacon in Animal House- “Remain calm-all is well, as chaos goes on around you.

    Boy, the “experts” are chuckleheads now that they aren’t singing the lakers praises- that’s you in a nutshell, homeristic, hypocritical, and dumb as a bag of hammers.

    • 00maltliquor - Nov 1, 2012 at 1:52 PM

      Magic Johnson coached before.

  9. echech88 - Nov 1, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    0% chance Mike Brown makes it to the All Star Break.

    They are paying soooo much money in luxury tax penalties to be anything less than awesome.

    • 00maltliquor - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:04 PM

      Not a chance in hell that would happen (although I wouldn’t be opposed to that). Like the article stated Jim and Mitch are very patient, and even if this season would be a disaster (which it will NOT) by the All-Star break, they would let Mike Brown play out the season in its entirety.

      Another reason why it wouldn’t happen is because who else is out there? Phil Jackson is just not going to come back. I fully believe him that he is retired. Stan Van Gundy is the best avalible but no way in hell would that ever happen because we have Dwight. Which sucks ’cause SVG is my favorite coach. I would be stoked on Byron Scott, but he’s locked up in CLE. Mike D’Antoni would be interesting to pick up as an assistant coach to run the offense while MB just focused on the D. That could be a killer tandum. Mike D doesn’t have to run that 8 sec. or less offense but something better to fit the players we have since we’re not exactly spring chickens.

      I just pray that MB gets his act together and stops trying to play it off like everythings going to be alright and that the offense that he’s running is going to work and goes back to the drawing board.

  10. ajnoyz - Nov 1, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Brian Shaw would fare better as a head coach for the Lakers coz he already the dynamics of what Kobe, Pau, and Dwight are made of. Or why not try to lure Jerry Sloan into context?

  11. xcastorx - Nov 1, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    For me the Lakers is just a team for the superstar players and a jobless coach to come to Lakers just to make big money and just play ordinary basketball and pissed off their fans.

  12. ajnoyz - Nov 1, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    Mike Brown needs to be wise. He can’t make a reason that Nash prefers this way or that so he won’t think much attr offensive end. Mike Brown, as a head coach, should not point to it as his defense. If he sees the Princeton offense doesn’t play out well for his, then he should demand his playmaker to do another plays which will be efficient enough. Coz, Nash prefers or likes it that way, he should just do nothing as a coach and let it play out. Mike Brown cannot reason out Steve Nash on this. It’s his job to demand adjustments among his players and he should do that.

  13. blakspartan - Nov 1, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    I’m sorry but I’m distrusting mike brown seriously lakers should have beaten Portland

  14. ohsoblessed1 - Nov 1, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    I agree, we should have beat Portland and I’m really afraid we are going 0-3 cause we may get waxed by the Clips.

  15. aventador12 - Nov 1, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    We’ll see how our boys do tomorrow night against the Clippers. I saw part of their game last night and even though they had over 25+ turnovers and mistakes, they still out worked the Grizzlies and won, especially when CP3 played clutch in the 4th quarter. Their bench played extremely well with Jamal C. leading the way. It was a collective effort to say the least. I have faith, but it rue as he’ll will be a great game to watch tomorrow night against our boys.

    • BigBeachBall - Nov 1, 2012 at 1:16 PM

      perfect game for a clipper fan to go to…

  16. lakerluver - Nov 1, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    If you’re a bandwagon LAKERS fan you’re probably worried right now. But if you’re a real LAKERS fan you should know that the franchise is in very capable hands. Let all the smartphone “experts”, naysayers & talking heads have their say. The LAKERS management team has proven beyond a doubt that they know what they’re doing. They have a 30 year track record of mostly excellence. Patience!! Mitch and the Buss family has earned that!! I trust them wholeheartedly. If Brown proves that he’s not the coach for this team it will be addressed at the end of this season. But many of these same “experts” & talking heads were the same ones saying Spoelstra couldn’t coach and should be fired. I would argue Mike Brown’s track record as a head coach was more impressive than Spoelstra’s prior to last season. Patience, fellow LAKERS fans, patience!!

  17. paulhargis53 - Nov 1, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Hypocrite, lakerluver is a Hypocrite!

    Way to turn on your fellow fans idiot!

    You yourself admitted you are a bandwagon fan, you had a different team before Magic came along. You’re pathetic.

    0-3 coming up!

  18. lakerluver - Nov 1, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    I didn’t have a fave team before Magic got drafted by the LAKERS. He’s still my fave player ever (followed closely by Kobe, Worthy and Michael Cooper). Had he gone to Boston (perish the thought!) I’d be a Celtics fan today. I support the LAKERS no matter what. That means I support the decisions management makes. Unlike some of you “experts” I don’t think I know more than they do. Their whole lives revolve around the LAKERS and basketball. I’m just a fan.

  19. lakerluver - Nov 1, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    I love me some Kurt Rambis aka Clark Kent!! Every championship team needs a Rambis!!

  20. paulhargis53 - Nov 1, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    lakerluver, thank you for proving EVERTHING I just said about you!!

    You’d have been a Celtics fan if Magic went there- hypocrite.

    You trust the “experts” when they are pro laker. Anything that is anti laker, means they know nothing?- hypocrite.

    You are such a loathsome homeristic person. I love watching you bury yourself like you just did.

    Thank God Magic didn’t play for the Celtics, I’d be embarrassed to share a fanhood with you.

    You’ve been exposed, you should quit posting, or at least change your name on here, I’d be ashamed if I were you.

  21. edge661 - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    Sources close to a source say brown is on the hot seat. Phil is back n the building

  22. lakerluver - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    The LAKERS could’ve started 20-0 and the naysayers would’ve said, “go 30-0 and THEN you’ll impress us”! Blah, blah, blah…let’s see how they look in May/June!!

  23. e39er - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    It’s 2 games in the season? Come on, this team will be good believe that, first 10 games for Mia resulted in a 5-5 record and keep me in mind first game Mia played was Boston and they got mopped, it’s a work in progress, only thing I like to see more is pick & roll you have Pau who can hit the midrange or Dwight who can just dunk it home, it does look like Kobe & Dwight aren’t 100% and now with Nash’s injury that’s the only thing stopping this team, everyone talking about his team not able to handle the pressure is delusional, this team will be good until then just enjoy basketball

    • passerby23 - Nov 1, 2012 at 9:40 PM

      I get what you’re saying. They’re valid points: it’s 2 games, guys haven’t played together, they aren’t 100%, the Heat did the same, etc. However, the Lakers are older than the Heat. They have no bench. I just wonder if the defense will improve. Getting things right on offense does not mean quicker, more athletic teams will not run you ragged up and down the court.

      As poorly as Miami sputtered, I don’t ever remember their defense being the problem. Miami had/has great athletes, whereas LA is pretty old. I still think they turn it around, but I could also see it going further south as well.

  24. miamatt - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    As much as I love watching the Lakers fall flat on their respective faces, it really is too early to give a damn. The NBA has the most meaningless regular season of any North American professional sport, and the early portion especially. The only thing the Lakers have shown is what their flaws are when it goes wrong- lack of flow on offense, terrible free throw shooting by a guy who will get to the line frequently (sound familiar?), and uninspired defense. They have penty of time to fit the pieces together.

    Still, it is nice to see the other shoe drop with regards to media/fan overreaction. One week ago a favorite to win it all, today they suck. Who knew?

    • passerby23 - Nov 1, 2012 at 9:48 PM

      That’s all true, but other inescapable facts are age and no bench. It worked well enough for Miami in the first year together because the Big 3 could log heavy minutes being in their primes. Nash, Kobe, and Gasol cannot log 35-40 minutes. Another problem is that the Heat thrive in an uptempo game. Teams do not want to run with them, while speeding the Lakers up is a big problem.

      Is 2 games an overreaction? Yes, but you’re right, you do see their flaws.

  25. paulhargis53 - Nov 1, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    As for your posting about Magic, I will just let that sink in to our fellow posters. You were a magic Johnson fan, not a Lakers fan prior to magic. Hmmmm…….

    You are for the experts when they say what you want to hear, but when they dont, they know nothing. Hmmmmm…

    No we woyldnt have said go 30-0. You are getting ridiculed be cause you and others like you, had them in the finals before a game was played. They look like horsesh*t and you deserve every ounce of venom thrown your way.

    You’re a loudmouth dunce and I will take every chance I can get to smack you around.

    0-3 come Friday. What do you think about that squish mitten?

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