GM hopes Lakers get mentally tough
General manager Rob Pelinka hopes the Los Angeles Lakers will come out of a tumultuous trade deadline period with more mental toughness for the stretch run. After 10 days of teamwide uncertainty during their widely reported pursuit of disgruntled New Orleans superstar Anthony Davis, Pelinka said he believes the Lakers will bounce back strongly. Pelinka already saw signs of it Thursday night, when Los Angeles beat Boston on Rajon Rondo’s dramatic winning basket just a few hours after the deadline passed and Davis remained with the Pelicans. “What I’ve come to learn is that any time in life you face a challenge or a moment of adversity, you have to look at that as an opportunity,” Pelinka said Friday. “When you go through anything as a team, if you go through adversity, you can choose how to respond. Does it draw you closer together, or does it push you further apart?” Pelinka and his boss, Magic Johnson, also remain confident in the Lakers’ ability to end the franchise’s five-year playoff drought this spring, even without Davis in purple and gold. After a prolonged slump during the longest injury absence of LeBron James’ 16-year NBA career, the Lakers (28-27) began Friday in 10th place in the Western Conference, but just three games behind sixth-place Utah. The Lakers’ playoff drought is more than double the previous longest in franchise history. “I think we — really (owner) Jeanie (Buss), Magic, Luke and I — are all aligned,” Pelinka said. “We really want to make a push to try to make the playoffs this year. It’s been a five-year absence for our fans, and we think that’s an important step to return to contending for championships.”
DUCKS COACH FIRED >> Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray tried to give Randy Carlyle as much time as possible to turn things around. But a sevengame losing streak and freefall into last place in the Western Conference showed Murray that a turnaround wasn’t coming soon. Murray announced that he would take over as interim coach for the remainder of the regular season after firing Carlyle on Sunday. Anaheim will hire a new coach following the season. “What has happened here lately and how we have played, it was time for change,” Murray said during a conference call. “Some people thought I waited far too long but this team has a history of coming on and charging late. I realized it wasn’t going to happen a few days ago that it wasn’t going to happen.” After no firings last year, the Ducks are the sixth team to make a change this season, joining Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, Edmonton and Philadelphia. The 62-year-old Carlyle, the winningest coach in Ducks history, was in his second stint with Anaheim. He led the team to the Stanley Cup in 2007 and three appearances in the Western Conference Final (2006, 2007, 2017). Anaheim has made the playoffs six straight seasons but won just two of its last 21 games. The Ducks were second in the Pacific Division on Dec. 18 after winning 11 of 13, but they have gone 2-15-4 since. Saturday’s 6-2 loss at Philadelphia capped a five-game trip where the Ducks had been outscored 29-7.