The lights dimmed down. The starters walked through player introductions. And then moments after the lights turned back on, the Lakers and Nuggets tipped off in what appeared to be an ordinary NBA game. There was one key difference, though. The Lakers didn't have their head coach patrolling the sideline.
Mike Brown left before the start of the Lakers' 103-97 victory over Denver on Friday night for what the team called "personal reasons." But his players hardly had much time to react to his sudden departure.
"It happened so fast," Lakers forward Metta World Peace said. "We couldn't even focus on it. We had a game to play. It happened right when we were going out there."
Good thing the Lakers has apparently developed a backup plan. Assistant coach John Kuester had already taken over head-coaching duties once this season. Brown missed the Lakers' 95-90 loss Feb. 6 at Philadelphia because of a one-game suspension stemming from his ejection two days earlier against Utah.