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Lakers, Jackson talk about reunion

A fan holds up a sign for Phil Jackson during the Lakers-Warriors game Friday.

Associated Press

A fan holds up a sign for Phil Jackson during the Lakers-Warriors game Friday.

LOS ANGELES —The Lakers, who showed Phil Jackson the door in 2004 and rehired him as coach in 2005, are considering completing the cycle again after firing his latest successor, Mike Brown, one season and five games into a four-year, $18 million contract.

Jackson met Saturday with general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive vice president Jim Buss, and the three agreed to talk again in a couple of days, the team said on its website, a day after it fired Brown in the wake of a 1-4 start.

There was no comment from Jackson, 67. He lives in Playa del Rey, Calif., minutes from the Lakers' practice center, and is still in a relationship with owner Jerry Buss' daughter, Jeanie.

Former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni was also on the Lakers' shortlist, but he had not been contacted as of midday Saturday, the New York Times reported.

Kupchak said the Lakers are likely to hire a veteran coach who isn't currently employed.

The job is Jackson's if he wants it, the New York Times and ESPN said. Jackson would require Jim Buss to once again relinquish the organizational reins but this time hand them to him rather than back to Kupchak, Comcast Sportsnet reported.

If Jackson returns, it likely would be for a two-year deal, ESPN reported.

Since leaving the Lakers in 2011, Jackson has tried to find a front-office role with several teams but has received no offers.

When his first Lakers contract expired in 2004, Jackson intended to retire, having won three titles with them before Detroit ended their turbulent season in the NBA Finals. Never­theless, he was surprised when Jerry Buss made no attempt to persuade him to stay.

The next season, with center Shaquille O'Neal gone, new coach Rudy Tomjanovich bolted 43 games into his five-year, $30 million contract and the team fell to 34-48. Jackson signed a three-year, $36 million deal, the highest coaching salary in NBA history, to return.

Jackson wound up staying six more seasons, and the Lakers won titles in 2009 and 2010. With his contract up after their 2011 second-round playoff sweep by Dallas, Jackson retired again.

In their first game without Brown — whose new Princeton offense had been the subject of much Lakers grumbling in the young season — the Lakers beat the Warriors 101-77 at home late Friday behind assistant-turned-interim-head-coach Bernie Bickerstaff. The crowd at Staples Center broke out its first chant of "We want Phil" during the third quarter.

Bickerstaff gave the players Saturday off. He will coach tonight's game against Sacramento, the Lakers said.

Lakers star Kobe Bryant made it clear he thinks the team could switch gears and win quickly if Jackson returned with the triangle offense that made him arguably the greatest coach in NBA history with 11 championships, five with the Lakers.

"Are you doubting the Zen Master?" Bryant said after Friday's game. "Knowing him the way I do, I think it's really just a matter of health, if he feels physically up to doing it. He's a perfectionist. We all know he's a perfectionist. If he feels like he can come in here and give what he demands from himself, then I think he would be interested."

Bryant has stayed in contact with Jackson during the coach's retirement.

"A lot of it is Phil's fault," Bryant said of the struggles of the coach's successors. "He teaches guys to be thinkers. He teaches us the little nuances, the details and the intricacies of the game that just a lot of people don't know. It's no fault of their own."

Meanwhile, Brown got a vote of support from LeBron James, who was coached by him for five years with the Cavaliers. "I think (the firing is) unfortunate," James said. "I just don't think he got a fair shake, honestly. With the shortened season last year (because of the lockout), and five games into this year, he didn't really get a full season."

Rockets' McHale takes leave of absence

Rockets coach Kevin McHale has taken an indefinite leave of absence to deal with a family matter. Assistant coach Kelvin Sampson will be in charge while McHale is out, the team said.

"Kevin is a devoted family man who is needed back home in Minnesota at the moment," general manager Daryl Morey said in a statement.

"The Rockets organization will keep Kevin and his family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

He didn't provide details of the situation.

Sampson said he addressed the players in a film session Saturday afternoon and he hoped they could use the situation as a positive. Houston was 2-3 entering Saturday's late game against Detroit.

"We lost our leader," Sampson said. "I think we can use this as a catalyst to bring us together and fight for him."

game highlights: Paul George scored 20 and the host Pacers kept the Wizards winless with an 89-85 win. … The 76ers won their third straight, 93-83 over Toronto. All three victories have come on the road, the first time the 76ers have such a streak since February 2003.

around the league: Bulls starting guard Kirk Hinrich, signed in the offseason, in part to fill in for injured star point guard Derrick Rose, left a game against the Timberwolves with a right hip strain. Rose, recovering from torn ligaments in his left knee, is not expected to return until January at the earliest.

INDIANA 89, WASHINGTON 85

WASHINGTON (85): Ariza 2-5 0-0 4, Booker 5-11 0-0 10, Okafor 8-18 1-2 17, Price 5-12 0-0 12, Beal 6-11 2-3 17, Vesely 0-1 0-0 0, Pargo 0-1 0-0 0, Seraphin 2-7 0-0 4, Webster 2-4 2-2 8, Crawford 3-6 0-0 9, Singleton 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 35-79 5-7 85.

INDIANA (89): George 8-12 2-2 20, West 4-16 3-3 11, Hibbert 3-15 1-2 7, Hill 3-9 1-2 8, Stephenson 5-7 0-0 12, Green 6-12 2-2 15, T.Hansbrough 1-2 4-12 6, Mahinmi 3-4 1-1 7, Augustin 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 34-80 14-24 89.

Washington 22 27 23 13— 85

Indiana 23 26 21 19— 89

3-Point GoalsWashington 10-24 (Beal 3-3, Crawford 3-6, Webster 2-4, Price 2-7, Pargo 0-1, Singleton 0-1, Ariza 0-2), Indiana 7-16 (Stephenson 2-2, George 2-5, Augustin 1-2, Hill 1-3, Green 1-4). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsWashington 45 (Okafor 8), Indiana 57 (Hibbert 12). AssistsWashington 26 (Price 14), Indiana 16 (Hill 5). Total FoulsWashington 21, Indiana 12. TechnicalsSingleton, West. A12,036 (18,165).

PHILADELPHIA 93, TORONTO 83

PHILADELPHIA (93): T.Young 5-11 6-6 16, Wright 5-12 1-1 15, Allen 0-5 0-0 0, Turner 2-7 4-5 8, Holiday 6-11 3-5 16, Hawes 5-10 2-4 12, N.Young 7-12 1-2 16, Ivey 3-3 2-2 8, Wilkins 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 34-73 19-25 93.

TORONTO (83): Anderson 3-8 0-0 7, Bargnani 9-19 2-4 23, Valanciunas 3-6 2-2 8, Calderon 5-11 0-0 14, DeRozan 6-17 6-8 19, Johnson 1-2 0-0 2, Ross 2-5 0-0 6, Lucas 1-7 1-2 4, Davis 0-1 0-0 0, Kleiza 0-1 0-0 0, McGuire 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 30-79 11-16 83.

Philadelphia 20 32 17 24— 93

Toronto 26 7 29 21— 83

3-Point GoalsPhiladelphia 6-14 (Wright 4-8, Holiday 1-1, N.Young 1-4, Turner 0-1), Toronto 12-26 (Calderon 4-7, Bargnani 3-6, Ross 2-5, DeRozan 1-1, Lucas 1-1, Anderson 1-5, Kleiza 0-1). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsPhiladelphia 54 (Turner 12), Toronto 45 (Valanciunas 8). AssistsPhiladelphia 21 (Ivey, Holiday 5), Toronto 20 (Calderon 11). Total FoulsPhiladelphia 19, Toronto 21. TechnicalsDeRozan. A19,800 (19,800).

Lakers, Jackson talk about reunion 11/10/12 [Last modified: Saturday, November 10, 2012 10:55pm]

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