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Lakers win and wait for word from Phil Jackson

The Lakers clearly want to bring Phil Jackson back as coach, and hopeful fans chant his name during 103-90 win over Sacramento. But he hasn't said 'yes,' yet.

November 11, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times

The "We Want Phil!" chants were heard again at Staples Center.

Will Lakers fans and players get their wish?

Another day passed without Phil Jackson and the Lakers reuniting, though the players weren't preoccupied in a 103-90 victory Sunday over the Sacramento Kings.

Then Kobe Bryant reiterated his desire for Jackson to return, saying he would be "excited," seemingly uncaring that the coaching search would seep into Monday.

"Nothing concerns me about this organization," he said. "They always seem to make the right decisions."

The Lakers gave Jackson time to think through the concept of rejoining them after the sides met Saturday, allowing him to mull or meditate or whatever he does.

Team management met with Mike Dunleavy on Sunday and spoke to Mike D'Antoni over the phone. The two Mikes are the backup plan, with D'Antoni believed to be favored over Dunleavy. It was unclear if the Lakers have spoken with former Portland coach Nate McMillan.

What's clear is the franchise is hoping to bring back Jackson. The fans, too.

The first pro-Jackson chant began midway through the second quarter, the Lakers down by one. The other one happened in the fourth quarter, the home team easily ahead of the Kings.

Lakers trailing? The fans want Jackson. Lakers winning by 20? The fans want Jackson.

The Lakers' next game is Tuesday against San Antonio at Staples Center. Then they play Phoenix on Friday, also at home.

Steve Nash, the last Lakers player of importance to weigh in on Jackson, finally did so Sunday night.

"It would be obviously a coup for the franchise," he said. "To have somebody with his, I don't want to say pedigree because that sounds silly, but his success rate and his history with this club, and with Pau [Gasol] and Kobe in particular, is fantastic. For me personally it would be a terrific experience."

Nash added his endorsement to the effusive ones provided by Bryant and the more subtle but equally important words uttered by Dwight Howard in recent days.

Nash seemed fine with the triangle offense Jackson would employ if he returned for a third tour with the Lakers.

"It's won a lot of championships. It's hard to argue against that," Nash said. "I look at it as a great opportunity for me to try something new at a different stage of my career."

Of course, Nash is much more familiar with D'Antoni, who is waiting on the side in case Jackson decides against the job.

"Obviously I think everyone knows how much I love Mike," said Nash, who played four seasons under D'Antoni in Phoenix. "If he were the coach, it would be seamless and terrific for me, and I think the team as well."

D'Antoni was most recently employed by the New York Knicks, who fired him last season after an 18-24 start. Dunleavy coached the Lakers for two years in the early 1990s and coached the Clippers for seven seasons until 2010.

As for Sunday's game, Howard had a breezy time against the undermanned Kings, finishing with 23 points and 18 rebounds. Bryant had 20 points and six assists. Gasol and Metta World Peace each had 18 points.

The Kings were kind enough to give the Lakers a break before tipoff. Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins was suspended by the NBA for two games because he confronted San Antonio radio announcer Sean Elliott "in a hostile manner" after the Spurs beat the Kings on Friday, 97-86.

With 17.3 points and 9.8 rebounds removed from the lineup, the Kings struggled to score. Jason Thompson (15 points) and Isaiah Thomas (13 points) were their only starters to score in double figures.

The Lakers (3-4) have won two consecutive games. Better times might be in front of them. All they need now is a coach.

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