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Phil Jackson's comments on Miami coaching draw fire in Florida

Orlando Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy says Lakers Coach Phil Jackson is out of line to suggest Miami's Erik Spoelstra could be replaced if the Heat's poor play can't be halted.

November 24, 2010|By Mike Bresnahan

Forget Miami. The Lakers might be starting a rivalry with Orlando too.

Sure, the teams played in the 2009 NBA Finals, but there hasn't been much fervor between them since then…until Wednesday, when Orlando Coach Stan Van Gundy said he didn't like Phil Jackson's comments on the Miami Heat coaching situation.

Jackson on Tuesday said he could eventually see Pat Riley coming down from the front office to coach the Heat if Erik Spoelstra can't reverse Miami's surprisingly poor start with LeBron James.

"To second-guess another coach and comment on a situation he knows nothing about, I think, it's inappropriate and it's also ignorant," Van Gundy told reporters. "I don't mean that commenting on Phil's intelligence, he's obviously a very smart guy. I mean it as ignorant — he doesn't know what that situation was and he doesn't know what that situation in Miami is now.

"I don't think that, unless their relationship's changed drastically, that he and Pat talk on a regular basis. So I doubt he would have any insight ever on what's going on in Miami."

Van Gundy stepped down as the Heat's coach in 2005 because of family and personal reasons, and Riley replaced him.

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade was also unhappy with Jackson's comments.

"The only thing surprising about it is a coach saying it about another coach in this league," Wade said to reporters. "I expect that from someone else to say it, but not another coach. It's unfortunate. But I guess Coach Jackson has earned the right to say what he wants, and he continues to exercise that right."

Jackson on Tuesday said if Miami didn't improve its play, "the weight's going to fall there."

He added: "It's easier to change coaches than it would be to change teams after they made all those player adjustments."

The Lakers did not practice Wednesday, and Jackson was not available for comment about Van Gundy's remarks.

Artest idling

The Lakers had just finished putting away Chicago on Tuesday, but Ron Artest didn't seem satisfied.

He sat out the entire fourth quarter while the Lakers went with a three-guard lineup, hammering the Bulls with three-pointer after three-pointer on the way to a 98-91 victory.

Artest wanted more action.

"I can't wait for a challenge. I'm telling you... I can't play any ball because these games are just ridiculous," he said. "I can't wait to play a team where I can strap up, put on my jockstrap and play some damn basketball. But it's fun. We are playing well. But it's been tough. We're up 30, 20 at halftime…I want to play basketball, I can't even play. But we've got guys, we've got a great team."

Artest made one of eight shots against the Bulls and scored only two points in 17 minutes, bringing his season average down to 8.7 points a game.

It's safe to say he was looking forward to the Lakers' game Friday at Utah.

"Utah's tough," he said, smiling. "They're serious. Definitely serious."

So are the Lakers, it appears, with plenty of depth and a 13-2 record despite the absence of Andrew Bynum.

The Lakers' victory over the Bulls added a slight historical context to a still-young season. They became the sixth Jackson-coached team to win 13 games before losing for a third time. The other five teams went on to win an NBA championship (1992, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2009).

The Lakers are also off to the third-best start in team history through 15 games, one behind the 14-1 teams of 2001-02 and 2008-09.

More reserve fuel

So much has already been made of the Lakers' reserves, but the Bulls saw first-hand what Shannon Brown, Steve Blake and Matt Barnes have done in just one month together.

The trio combined for 37 points and made nine of 17 three-point attempts Tuesday.

"Everybody in the league knows that their bench is like a transition team, where they get out in the open and try to shoot a lot of [three-pointers]," Bulls guard Derrick Rose said. "And they were hitting [Tuesday]."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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