Bobcats hire Lakers assistant as coach

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Bobcats have hired Los Angeles Lakers assistant Steve Clifford as their new coach.

Two people familiar with the situation said Monday that Clifford had agreed to a three-year contact. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement has not been made public.

Clifford replaces Mike Dunlap, who was fired after going 21-61 in his only season as coach.

Clifford has worked as an assistant in New York, Houston, Orlando and Los Angeles but has never been a head coach at the NBA level. He has worked under both Jeff and Stan Van Gundy.

He is the sixth coach of the Bobcats since 2007.

Clifford had been scheduled today for a second interview with the Milwaukee Bucks for their coaching vacancy.

Clifford came to Los Angeles with Dwight Howard from the Magic. Before joining the Lakers, he spent five seasons with Orlando, working alongside Stan Van Gun­dy. During that time, the Ma­gic were 259-135 and reached the NBA Finals in 2009.

PACERS REGROUP: Pacers coach Frank Vogel walked into Monday's practice with a simple message for players as they adapt to Miami's new wrinkle – using LeBron James in the post.

He's not going to overhaul the team's philosophy for Game 4. They just need to execute better.

"We've got to do a better job on the ball, we've got to be more active on our helps and we've got to double (James) more," Vogel said. "We're not going to double him every time he touches the ball, but we'll look at some things and try to break his rhythm."

Indiana trails 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

James scored 22 points in Game 3 and seized control of the offense by working from the post. The surprise move allowed the Heat to beat the Pacers at their own game, outscoring Indiana 52-36 in the paint and opening up mid-range jumpers for James' teammates.

"I'm much better than I was two or three years ago," James said Monday when asked about playing the post. "I've still got a lot of things to improve, but I could work down there all game now. That's something I probably couldn't have done two years ago."


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