Mike Brown defends Princeton-style offense

Only two regular season games in the books, and Lakers Coach Mike Brown already faces plenty of skepticism about his new offense.

Of course, that will come as the Lakers opened with an 0-2 record for the second consecutive season under Brown’s watch. But plenty of respected basketball minds are leading the charge.

TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith took particular aim at the Lakers incorporating elements of the Princeton system.

“Mike Brown has to nix the Princeton thing,” Barkley said, “and let Steve Nash push the ball.”

Added Smith: “That style of play will keep every team in the game with you.”

So what does Brown think?

“I’ve been criticized by those guys before. It’s okay,” Brown said with a laugh. It comes with the territory. I think they’re funny guys. They’re very funny and a joy to watch on TV for a lot of people. I’m okay with that.”

Brown’s professed to his team to “block out all the noise,” but the Lakers coach provided an in depth explanation defending his new system.

“The first thing is with our offense, every time down the floor — and if they want to, they can call Steve Nash and ask him — Steve Nash has the right to play pick and roll if he wants to,” Brown said. “He has said it himself that he doesn’t feel like he’s as burdened because he doesn’t have to make every play for everybody all the time with what we’re trying to do. He can give it up and still have a chance to get it back. He’s said that he feels as fresh as he’s ever felt in his career because he doesn’t feel the pressure of making every single play.”

Nash has indeed made those comments. But he has conceded feeling as if he needs to incorporate the Princeton system at the expense of pick-and-roll sets. Regardless, the Lakers’ offense actually looked fluid in their 116-106 loss Wednesday to the Trail Blazers. Dwight Howard (33), Kobe Bryant (30), Pau Gasol (16) and Metta World Peace (16) all cracked double figures. Still, the Lakers committed 24 turnovers, a large reason why Portland scored 19 fast-break points and shot 50 percent from the field.

“It’s timing on things,” Bryant said. “We’re trying to get the offense down on who’s going to go where.”

Brown maintained, however, these initial struggles are worth the investment in implementing his complex offense. Because the Princeton system is based on reads, cuts and passes every player makes on the floor, the Lakers in theory would have more options.

“We could spread the floor and play pick and roll all the time … but it will make us one-dimensional,” he said. “So when we play the good teams, they’ll figure out how to stop that one thing that we’re good at … and when we’re in seven-game playoff series, for sure the later we get into the playoffs, they’ll be able to take us out of the offense because we’ll be so one-dimensional. What we’re trying to do, we’re trying to eliminate that and be hard to guard because it’s a read-based offense.”

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter.

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