Lakers forward Metta World Peace talks with Coach Mike Brown during a game… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Lakers Coach Mike Brown on Thursday continued to downplay any friction between himself and forward Metta World Peace, basically saying there is only peace and goodwill between them.
Their dust-up began with World Peace saying before Tuesday's game against Atlanta that he was frustrated with his role and with Brown's substitution patterns. World Peace went so far as to criticize Brown's background as a former video coordinator, saying, "He's all stats."
Brown defended World Peace's remarks then and again Thursday.
"I don't feel like he overreacted," Brown said. "I don't take anything personal. Like I said, I went back and we talked about it and I thought I was real with him and real with whoever else asked me about it."
World Peace, who is averaging just 4.9 points, did not speak with reporters after practice, but Brown said World Peace would start against Phoenix on Friday.
It has been a sharp fall for rookie forward Devin Ebanks, who in less than two months went from Lakers starter to being assigned to their D-League team, the D-Fenders.
Ebanks was assigned to the D-Fenders on Wednesday after averaging just 2.7 points through 15 games for the Lakers.
"This is an opportunity for him to go to the D-League and get some minutes because right now we don't have any minutes for him," Brown said.
Brown added that a lot would have to happen before Ebanks, who averaged 16.5 points in six games with the D-League's Bakersfield Jam last season, can return to the Lakers.
"Well, first of all, the guys in front of him have to be playing really bad and we have to be playing really bad as a team in order for him to get an opportunity," Brown said. "And he's got to keep bringing it every day."
Brown was asked whether he was happy with the players he has for the system he wants to run.
"Yes, I am," he said. "Don't get me wrong. I'm like any other coach. If there's a way to help this team get better, then you always look at it. But I'm excited about the group of guys we have in this gym right now."
One of the players that might have helped the Lakers improve apparently is off the market. Free-agent guard J.R. Smith is reportedly close to signing with the New York Knicks.
Legging it out
The lockout-shortened season has had far-reaching effects on everyone in the NBA, largely because players don't get much of a chance to rest their weary legs.
And because Lakers forward Pau Gasol spent his off-season playing in Spain, whereas other players mostly rested, his legs are in double overtime.
"They're holding up pretty good," Gasol said, glancing down as if to check and make sure. "They're not too tired. They know they're going to get a break in a few days."
That would be during the NBA All-Star break, which begins after the Lakers' Feb. 23 game at Oklahoma City and ends when they face Minnesota on Feb. 29.
Streak in peril
Guard Derek Fisher went home with sinusitis and is listed as day to day. Fisher has played in 524 consecutive regular-season games dating back to the 2004-05 season, the longest active streak in the NBA. Asked whether Fisher would play against Phoenix, Brown said, "I think so, but I don't know."