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L.A. Lakers fire head coach 5 games into season

By Jason Hanna, CNN
updated 6:44 PM EST, Fri November 9, 2012
head coach Mike Brown has paid the price for the Lakers' poor start to the new NBA season.
head coach Mike Brown has paid the price for the Lakers' poor start to the new NBA season.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lakers coach Mike Brown sacked after team's poor start to the new NBA season
  • His assistant Bernie Bickerstaff will be interim head coach for Friday night's game
  • Team's management decided to make the move Thursday following loss to Utah

(CNN) -- The Los Angeles Lakers' 0-8 preseason and 1-4 start to the regular season was too much for the front office to take.

The NBA team on Friday fired second-year head coach Mike Brown, whose efforts to implement a new offense and mesh free-agent signings with stars who won a title two years ago didn't turn into wins.

"Really, it came down to ownership and management looking at the record, looking at the improvement level, and wondering a month or two or three down the road, will we be in the same spot," General Manager Mitch Kupchak told reporters.

Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff will be interim head coach for Friday night's game against the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers said.

The Lakers, just two years removed from an NBA championship, are loaded with high-profile talent with the likes of all-stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, and they added former league MVP Steve Nash and former Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard in the off-season.

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But Nash has missed most of the season's early games with an injury, and the Lakers struggled with a complex new offense Brown was implementing.

"I never thought we got to the point where the offense was flowing," Kupchak said. "You could see flashes of it, but we never got to a point (where it was consistent through a game)."

A reporter asked Kupchak whether a desire to make Howard's first year a smooth one was a factor in the decision. The star center would be a free agent at season's end if he doesn't sign an extension.

"Obviously, we know he is a free agent this summer, and you want to make the experience for him as good as possible, but we have a lot of other people we need to (please) as well," Kupchak said.

Kupchak said the team's management decided Thursday night to make the move, a day after the Lakers lost a 95-86 game at Utah.

Brown released a statement saying he had great respect for the family of Lakers owner Jerry Buss "and the Lakers' storied tradition, and I thank them for the opportunity they afforded me."

"I have a deep appreciation for the coaches and players that I worked with this past year and I wish the organization nothing but success as they move forward," Brown said.

Before taking the Lakers job in May 2011, Brown, 42, compiled a 272-138 regular-season record in five seasons as head coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

CNN's Joseph S. Miller contributed to this report.

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