NBA Report: Brown, L.A. suddenly ulcer-free

Well, it’s finally over. The L.A. Lakers will not finish the season 0-82.

These are the type of things that happen when the fairly young and disjointed Detroit Pistons come to town, as the Lakers turned their 108-79 victory Sunday into 48 minutes of garbage time.

The Lakers haven’t started 0-3 since superfan Jack Nicholson made a name for himself in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Or something like that.

Now, they’re 1-3, and maybe this Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol experiment will pay off yet. (Although it’s hard to tell for certain, considering the injured Nash didn’t play.)

But a win is a win is a win, and by golly, the Lakers really needed it. Or more accurately, coach Mike Brown needed it. The rest of the Lakers probably weren’t too worried. They had yet to take the entire blame, after all.

Kobe, who scored a mere (for him) 15 points a couple nights after scoring 40, gave the type of “Win One for the Gipper” postgame speech that Brown certainly had to appreciate.

“That was more just helping Mike out, man,” Bryant told L.A. reporters. “So he wouldn’t have an ulcer over there or a heart attack over there.”

Bryant was specifically referring to Brown’s decision to insert Bryant and Howard (28 points, seven rebounds) back into the game with the Lakers leading by 24 early in the fourth quarter. If you’re in danger of having an ulcer … with your team up by two dozen in the fourth … well, let’s just say Brown had seen better days.

On a more serious note, yes, it was just the Pistons. They also have now started 0-3, and have looked pretty clueless doing it. But a victory, any victory, can sometimes be the launch a talented team such as the Lakers needs to start moving toward basketball nirvana.

“I think it’s more of a relief for Mike than it is for anybody else,” Bryant said. “We’re good.”


• Along with Nash, newcomer Antawn Jamison has really struggled to get into a groove with the Lakers. In four games, he’s averaging just 4.3 points on 42-percent shooting off the bench. But there may still be hope: Jamison made his first 3-pointer of the young season Sunday.

• Brown is 1-3 with Howard as his starting center. Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn has a career record of 2-0 without Howard.

• Shooting guard J.J. Redick has played particularly well for the Magic, averaging 22.5 points on a sizzling 64 percent from the floor. Also, former Boston benchwarming point man E’Twaun Moore has put together two very nice games. Moore was waived by Houston before the season.

• It’s been a good week for Purdue guys who once played for the Celtics. Moore is doing his thing in Orlando, and big man JaJuan Johnson was the first overall pick in the D-League draft.

• This whole Andrei Kirilenko-Brandon Roy comeback deal will probably work out better in Minnesota once Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio return from injuries. Until then, you’ll probably see a lot of 19-point road losses, like the one the Timberwolves suffered Sunday in Toronto (105-86).

• New Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry? Absolutely outstanding so far, folks. Lowry is averaging 23.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists in three games. That’s James Harden territory.

• Yeah, Harden has become the NBA’s early-season measuring stick in his new top-option role with Houston. But good luck matching his averages of 35.3 points, 6.3 assists and 6.3 rebounds through three games.

• How about Atlanta winning in Oklahoma City on Sunday? Oh, by the way, the Hawks didn’t have Josh Smith in that game.

• No one is convinced Hawks GM Danny Ferry wanted his team to actually be good this year. The plan seemed to involve getting a nice lottery pick, rebuilding with all those expiring contracts, then firing coach Larry Drew. OK, that’s not what the plan seemed to be — I just sort of thought it up. But it sure seemed to make OK sense.

• And with that, I give you reason No. 917 why I was never named GM of an NBA team.

• Truth is, with Al Horford, Lou Williams, Jeff Teague, Smith and others, the Hawks are no patsies. Better watch out for these guys once they figure out all the newness. And clearly, they’re getting close.

• Finally, this column can’t end without mention of New York. The Knicks have looked harmonious, talented and capable of being carried by Carmelo Anthony. (And goodness knows, we’ve all had our doubts about Carmelo.) But blowing out Miami and Philadelphia over the weekend can make you a believer, if even for just a few days. In the lives of Knicks fans, that counts a lot.

Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO