Mike Brown optimistic despite start
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Heading into Tuesday's 96-71 win against the Utah Jazz, the Los Angeles Lakers faced the prospect of starting 0-3 for the first time since the 1978-79 season. While Lakers coach Mike Brown wasn't happy about the results, he remained optimistic.
"We're still feeling our way," Brown said following the team's shootaround Tuesday afternoon. "It's tough to swallow, but we'll be fine."
Following Tuesday's win, the Lakers will play six opponents widely expected to challenge for playoff spots over the next seven games. Brown acknowledged the risk of starting slowly in this year's compressed 66-game NBA season but isn't concerned about the team's long-term prospects.
"Obviously you don't want to put yourself in a hole, but we're going to be in the playoffs," he said. "Where we're going to sit, I don't know. Hopefully we don't bury ourselves too deep at the beginning of the year, but when we get clicking ... we're going to be really good, and once we get to the playoffs this is an experienced, veteran team."
"We want the No. 1 seed overall, but with this group right here, I'm not afraid to play in anybody's gym."
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While Utah made its season debut in Tuesday night's game, the Lakers polished off the last leg of their lone back-to-back-to-back sequence this year, and were again without the suspended Andrew Bynum. Still, Brown said he wouldn't place any restrictions on his players regarding their minutes.
"Especially early in the season, I'm OK with the minutes that we're playing," he said.
Instead, Brown is looking at his team's workload away from games.
"I just have to do a better job personally of making sure I don't keep the guys too long every day. I have kept them in the film room and the gym a bit, and I have not given them a day off yet since training camp started," Brown said. "It's a fine line. This group is mentally tough, and right now they're showing it to me by coming in and putting their hard hat on and going to work, whether it's shootaround or practice or the game."
The Lakers spent the morning watching film of their loss Monday in Sacramento, and after Brown said he found more positives in the tape than he expected, he noted challenges in the team's current learning curve, exemplified by instances in which players reverted back to older schemes practiced by the previous staff.
In a nutshell, there is still de-programming going on both offensively and defensively.
"After watching the tape, yes, it was quite evident," Brown said.
Asked when he thought his group might all be on the same page, Brown smiled. "Hopefully it doesn't take too long," he said.
Brian Kamenetzky covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.