Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Updated: March 29, 7:48 AM ET
Mike Brown stands by substitution
By Brian Kamenetzky
El Segundo, Calif. -- One night after sitting All-Star center Andrew Bynum for all but 5:23 of the second half in his team's 104-101 win over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown has no plans to alter his decision-making process.
"I'm going to coach the team how I think I need to coach it. It's as simple as that," Brown said Wednesday after practice in El Segundo. "If I feel like I need to make a sub, then I'll make a sub. If I feel like we're not getting production from certain guys out on the floor -- production the right way -- then I'll make a change. I don't think it's any more complicated than that."
Bynum was removed from Tuesday's game at the 9:33 mark of the third quarter after attempting a 3-pointer from the top of the key early in the shot clock with the Lakers holding on to a quickly-diminishing six-point lead. He started the fourth, but was removed in favor of Josh McRoberts with 9:10 remaining in the game and did not return.
"That's something that I felt could have taken us out of rhythm, and so that's why I took him out of the game," Brown said Tuesday of Bynum's ill-timed 3-point shot. "I brought him back for a little bit and then I took him out again and I just felt it was best to go with the group that we had out there."
Brown said Wednesday he pulled Bynum in the fourth because his effort defensively was subpar, but wouldn't ascribe it to the earlier benching.
"You would have to ask him," he said. "I don't know."
Bynum, averaging 18.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks in 46 games, was not available for comment Wednesday afternoon.
After his initial removal from the game, Bynum was seen by television cameras laughing with teammates. As the action continued, Bynum appeared disengaged from the game and his teammates, remaining seated during several fourth-quarter timeouts and not joining his team in the huddle.
"He took me out of the game, so I just sat where he put me," Bynum said.
As for the shot prompting his removal, Bynum, who is 1 of 7 from beyond the arc in his seven-year career, showed little remorse, saying he hoped to "expand his game" with more perimeter shooting.
"I guess, 'Don't take 3s' is the message, but I'm going to take another one and I'm going to take some more, so I just hope it's not the same result," Bynum said in Oakland. "Hopefully, I make it."
Brown said he hadn't seen Bynum's comments, but showed no outward displeasure when they were communicated to him.
"I'm OK (with it). He can say anything he wants," Brown said. "At the end of the day, if I feel like a guy isn't playing the right way for our team, I'll make a change. I don't know if there's any more than that."
Brown gave no indication he had communicated individually with Bynum, but that his young center was a full participant in practice Wednesday "and was great." Bynum also has been critical of Brown's practice and shootaround schedule this season, but Brown said things are fine between the two.
"I don't think there's anything wrong with our relationship." Brown said.
Forward Pau Gasol, recently named a team captain after Derek Fisher was moved to the Houston Rockets at the NBA's trade deadline, said the matter had been discussed with Bynum.
"We talked about it, and we addressed it," Gasol said. "Obviously, we want Andrew to do well for us and be at his best. He's had a tremendous year, and he'll continue to have it. We don't want to make too big a deal of one isolated action or isolated game."
Gasol wouldn't question Bynum's effort on the floor, but indicated his lack of engagement was a topic of conversation, beyond the questionable 3-point attempt.
"It's something that regardless of what happens during games or any particular action, you still have to be with the group. You can get upset with another player, you can get upset with a fan, you can get upset with yourself, with a coach, but you still have to make sure you're involved with what's going on with your team," he said.
The benching of Bynum came at a busy time for the Lakers, only one game after Brown created a stir removing Kobe Bryant for a short stretch in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss to Memphis, and just one game ahead of Thursday's highly anticipated matchup at Staples Center between the Lakers and the Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder.
The game will mark the return of Fisher, who signed with the Thunder after a buyout with the Rockets.
"It'll be very emotional, I think, for most of us that Derek means so much and has meant so much and have been through so much together," Gasol said. "I think that it's a lot, but obviously, we're happy for him that he's a part of a very good team. If he can't be with us we always wish him the best, and he's in a good situation."
The game represents a major test for a Lakers team that has replaced Fisher's production, and then some, with fifth-year point guard Ramon Sessions, but is still trying to fill the leadership void left by the five-time champion's departure.
"We have to step up to the challenge and make sure we do the right things on both ends of the floor, and protect our home floor against a team that is ahead of us. If we're able to do things right and be able to be successful against them, it will be good also for our confidence," Gasol said.
"Obviously, Derek is a special person, a special player, who brought other things to the table. But we're fine where we're at. We have no choice but to be fine, and we'll be good. It's just a matter of getting through this month and building momentum to the playoffs, and getting to the playoffs at the best shape possible."
I'm going to coach the team how I think I need to coach it. It's as simple as that. If I feel like I need to make a sub, then I'll make a sub.
-- Mike Brown