Lakers’ Larry Nance Jr. ruled out against Memphis

Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. (7) scores against the Atlanta Hawks during the 2nd quarter, at the Staples Center. the Lakers won 109-94. Los Angeles Calif., Sunday, November ,27, 2016. (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily News /SCNG)

Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. (7) scores against the Atlanta Hawks during the 2nd quarter, at the Staples Center. the Lakers won 109-94. Los Angeles Calif., Sunday, November ,27, 2016. (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily News /SCNG)

MEMPHIS — The injury bug has pinched the Lakers again.

The Lakers (10-11) ruled reserve forward Larry Nance Jr. out for tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies (12-8) at FedEx Forum because of a right knee contusion. Nance suffered the injury after colliding with Toronto’s Fred VanVleet in Friday night’s loss to the Raptors.

Lakers coach Luke Walton said he “would think he would be available next game” on Monday against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. Then Walton conceded uncertainty. Nance has averaged 7.6 points and 5.8 rebounds in 22.1 minutes off the bench. The Lakers are already without point guard D’Angelo Russell (left knee) and shooting guard Nick Young (right leg), though the Grizzlies will not have Vince Carter (right hip), Mike Conley (lower back), James Ennis III (right calf), Chandler Parsons (left knee), Zach Randolph (personal) and Brandan Wright (left ankle).

“Without Larry it’s going to be tricky because he is such a big part of what we do,” Walton said. “We’ll have to be creative and do different lineups based on how the game is going. It definitely hurts not having him tonight.”

The Lakers plan to reevaluate Russell on Monday when he visits with team doctors in Los Angeles. Young has stopped wearing a boot to protect the strained muscle in his right calf since Friday, though he has not started rehabbing yet. Walton said Young will see team doctors when the Lakers return to Los Angeles as well.

“It doesn’t hurt when he walks anymore,” Walton said of Young. “Playing at this level, you have to be able to do a lot more than just walk without pain.”


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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him him at mmedin@scng.com

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Lakers appreciate Jose Calderon’s flexibility with roles

The Lakers have appreciated the steady presence from veteran point guard Jose Calderon (left). Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

The Lakers have appreciated the steady presence from veteran point guard Jose Calderon (left). Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

TORONTO – Usually, Luke Walton has evaluated his starting point guard by how much he has blended his scoring talents with both running the offense and elevating his defense. With D’Angelo Russell out of the lineup for the past week recovering from a sore left knee however, Walton judged his replacement through a different lens.

After veteran guard Jose Calderon logged the first of many nights as the Lakers’ starting point guard, Walton observed and joked how many ice bags the 35-year-old Calderon had around his knees.

“I feel great,” Calderon said, laughing. “He’s always joking around with the pads and the old guys. But you always have to be ready.”

The Lakers (10-10) enter Friday’s game against the Toronto Raptors (12-6) at Air Canada Centre with Calderon fulfilling that job description the most.

Calderon spent the first two games sitting out because of a left calf injury that bothered him in training camp and has since fully healed. He then played spot minutes in six games while becoming healthy scratches for six others in between. Calderon then has started seven of the past eight games while Russell has sat out to recover from his sore left knee.

During that stretch, Calderon has averaged 6.7 points on 56.76 percent shooting and 4.29 assists in 16.7 minutes per game. He has also shown to Walton that “physically he’s much better than I thought he would be,” which the Lakers’ coach attributed to Calderon playing only limited minutes for the Spanish national team in the 2016 Rio Olympics and taking care of is body. And Walton called Calderon a “very smart player” for various reasons.

“He helps stabilize the first unit that has been a different lineup way too many times this year already,” Walton said. “Just having a veteran that knows how to play and can run an offense and knock down open shots, it’s been nice to have him to lean on when D’Angelo is out.”

It also has been nice for the Lakers to have Calderon after acquiring him last offseason from the Chicago Bulls, which looked to shed salary in their successful free-agent chase for Dwyane Wade. The reasons reflect why Calderon has considered this season “perfect” and “what I expected.”

“I’m happy with the way things have been going. I’m comfortable out there every day and I’m feeling more comfortable with my teammates. I’m ready for whatever role,” Calderon said. “I’m here to help this team to win. It doesn’t matter what. If I’m on the bench, it’s the bench. If I’m playing five or 30 minutes, I’m good.”

When Calderon has fulfilled the latter role, the Lakers have liked his steady veteran presence, his consistent outside shooting (42.9 percent) and hustle. When Calderon has fulfilled the former role, the Lakers appreciated how engaged he has remained in practice, in team huddles and on the bench. So much that both Calderon’s teammates and Walton himself have credited him for providing observations and tips on various player and game tendencies.

“If the coach decides that’s my role for that game, I can’t just be sitting there with a long face and do nothing,” Calderon said. “That’s how I’ve been forever. I’m a team player and that’s all I worry about. Everything is taken care of when you go out there and do your best. Every little possession and every little detail can help you win a game or that possession. It’s an easy way to get involved in the game just in case it happens.”

Those qualities remind the Raptors of what Calderon brought to their team from 2005 to 2013 before the Detroit Pistons acquired him in a trade. He remains the Raptors’ all-time leader in assists (3,770). Toronto coach Dwane Casey then joked he could be Calderon’s agent for all the compliments he handed him.

Casey called Calderon a “winner.” He praised his Olympic experience as a two-time silver medalist (2008, 2012) and bronze medalist (2016). And Casey expressed appreciation both for Calderon’s on-court contributions and mentorship.

“Having Jose Calderon on any team is special,” Casey said. “I think he’s a special person, a leader by example, a coach on the floor and a good person. His heart is in the right place.”

So much that Raptors forward DeMar DeRozan largely credited him for becoming a a two-time NBA All-Star and securing a five-year deal worth $145 deal million last summer to stay in Toronto.

“I credit a lot of the player I am today to Jose,” DeRozan said. “He gave me a lot of confidence early on, trusting me and giving me the ball, trusting me to shoot and never get down if you have a bad game and if you’re missing a few shots. He always believed in me.”

Calderon called DeRozan a “great guy” and said he feels “happy” for his growth entering his 8th NBA season before offering similar optimism about the current Lakers.

“There is great chemistry and good mix with the young guys with the vets,” Calderon said. “I think the coaching staff is doing a great job with how we’re playing together and playing as a team.”

But as much as Calderon waxed nostalgia about returning to Toronto and reflecting on his first regular-season game here nearly 11 years ago, this place also marked his own rite of passage.

After playing six seasons in the Spanish Pro League, Calderon played on a struggling Raptors team that went through three coaches (Sam Mitchell, Jay Triano, Casey) and only two NBA playoff appearances in seven full seasons. After shooting 16.3 percent from 3-point range his rookie season, Calderon spent the majority of his offseason taking “a lot” of outside shots and subtly tinkering with his form.

“It’s about confidence and always doing the same thing,” Calderon said. “I think that’s the same thing. I think mentally you have to be ready. Some days go in and some days you don’t. There’s nothing you do with the ball. You have to be ready.”

Calderon stayed ready thus far with the Lakers by making the best with both limited playing time and his elevated role during Russell’s absence.

“It’s kind of easier this way. It’s been great. We have so many guys. Even if you don’t feel great that night, somebody else will come in and do your job and do better if they need to,” Calderon said. “It’s been good so far. I’m okay. I’m healthy. I’m feeling really really good and out there enjoying basketball.”

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mmedina@scng.com

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Lakers’ Nick Young ruled out for Wednesday’s game against Chicago

Los Angeles Lakers Media Day in El Segundo Monday September 28, 2015. Nick Young smiles during interview. Photo By  Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze

Los Angeles Lakers Media Day in El Segundo Monday September 28, 2015. Nick Young smiles during interview.
Photo By Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze

CHICAGO — The Lakers have ruled Lakers guard Nick Young out for tonight’s game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center for what the team termed a “right leg injury.” The Lakers have not released the results of an MRI Young took on Wednesday after suffering what the team called a strain in his right Achilles tendon in the opening minutes of the Lakers’ 105-88 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday at Smoothie King Center.

The Lakers will surely miss Young, who has had a resurgent season thus far under first-year coach Luke Walton by averaging 14.1 points on 45.8 percent shooting in 26.4 minutes as a starter. It does not help that Lakers starting point guard D’Angelo Russell is sidelined for at least another week while rehabbing on his sore left knee.

While veteran guard Jose Calderon has started in Russell’s place in six of the past seven games, Young’s absence could either spur Jordan Clarkson, Lou Williams or even Marcelo Huertas to the starting lineup. Clarkson has averaged 15.1 points on 45 percent shooting in 27.8 minutes off the bench, while Williams has posted 16.6 points on a 45.6 percent clip in 23.5 minutes as a reserve.

Though Clarkson and Williams lead the Lakers’ in bench scoring, Walton could start seldom-used Huertas for various reasons. Though Huertas has averaged 1.1 points on 25 percent shooting and 2.3 assists in 8.4 minutes through seven appearances, the Lakers like his ability to run a balanced offense. Walton also has stayed reluctant in breaking up the team’s reserves unit since it leads the NBA in scoring (52.4).


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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Lakers’ Metta World Peace in new sports mockumentary series

Apparently, there involves an untold story on why Ron Artest changed his name to Metta World Peace. In a a new sports mockumentary series called “The 5th Quarter” the Lakers’ forward shares a story either real or imagined regarding what went into his name change.

The episode will go live at midnight PST on Wednesday, Nov. 30 here.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Lakers’ Nick Young expected to play vs. Hawks

Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young #0 celebrates after making the game winning 3-pointer. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 111-109 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA 11/22/2016. Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young #0 celebrates after making the game winning 3-pointer. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 111-109 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA 11/22/2016. Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

EL SEGUNDO — As the Lakers anxiously wait for two key pieces of their young core to heal, they still cleared up some space in their trainer’s room.

Lakers coach Luke Walton believes forward Nick Young will return for when the Lakers (8-9) play host to the Atlanta Hawks (10-6) on Sunday at Staples Center. After missing Friday’s loss to Golden State because of a sprain in the second toe of his left foot, Young participated in all of Saturday’s practice without any reported setbacks.

Meanwhile, Walton expressed uncertainty if forward Julius Randle will play after missing the previous two games with a hip pointer. He tried to complete Saturday’s practice, but was held out for the second half. Randle stayed on the court after practice ended to participate in non-contact two-on-two and shooting drills with some of the Lakers’ assistants.

“I hope he plays tomorrow, but we’re not going to rush him,” Walton said. “It’s not worth it. If he can’t go out and play the way he plays in being a dynamic playmaker and pushing the ball in transition and doing all those things for us, then it’s more important to get him more rest.”

Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell remains sidelined for at least the next two weeks after having a non-invasive procedure earlier this week on his sore left knee. He took some stationary shots in street clothes at the end of practice. Before, Russell watched practice while receiving treatment.

It appears the Lakers’ starting lineup appears unclear besides Young (shooting guard), Jose Calderon (point guard) and Timofey Mozgov (point guard). Walton admitted the Lakers coaching staff considered starting backup guard Marcelo Huertas in recent games along with Calderon to avoid disrupting the second unit. Instead, Walton decided to start Jordan Clarkson at shooting guard, rookie Brandon Ingram at small forward and sliding Luol Deng at power forward.

“This could all by my fault,” Walton said. “I wont give us the game in Oracle [where the Lakers lost by 43 points]. But we could be up 2-1 on the Warriors if I possibly listened.”

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Follow L.A Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mmedina@scng.com

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Lakers’ Brandon Ingram unexpectedly lands first NBA start vs. Warriors

Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram drives to the basket as the Warriors' Andre Iguodala defends during the first half of Wednesday's game in Oakland. AP Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez

Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram drives to the basket as the Warriors’ Andre Iguodala defends during the first half of Wednesday’s game in Oakland. AP Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez

OAKLAND — The stoic reaction reflected Brandon Ingram’s personality as the Lakers’ 19-year-old rookie has relied on his actions to speak louder than his words. It also revealed his mindset on both assuming a larger role and handling the pressure that comes with it.

Ingram maintained he hardly flinched when he learned shortly before the Lakers’ 149-106 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday at Oracle Arena that he would start at small forward while Luol Deng would slide at power forward in place of an injured Julius Randle (hip pointer). Even though the Lakers hardly had any answer to stop the Warriors’ firepower, Ingram hardly showed many nerves as he posted a career-high 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting and three rebounds in 34 minutes. Lakers coach Luke Walton called the performance “good,” before also noting Ingram’s three turnovers.

“It’s the same thing if I’m coming off the bench. It’s the same game,” Ingram said. “The only thing that was different is that I was starting. But it was the same thing for me.”

Before, Ingram had viewed things differently. He never publicly complained about his role to open his rookie season. The Lakers also have liked how Ingram has embraced the learning process as he has assumed ball-handling duties, a post-up role and closeout duties. Yet, Ingram admitted the move made him more motivated to prove he was worthy of the start.

So while Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell has his development on hold for at least the next two weeks while recovering from a sore left knee, Ingram’s progress advanced to another stage.

“It’s never easy to start your first NBA game, but I think he did a pretty good job,” said Lakers veteran guard Jose Calderon, who started in place of Russell in three of the past four games. “He hit outside shots. Like everybody else, I think we could’ve started a little bit better.”
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Lakers’ Jose Calderon handles starting point guard role nicely in win over Thunder

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton look on as Los Angeles Lakers guard Jose Calderon #5 welcomes Los Angeles Lakers guard Louis Williams #23 to the bench in the first half. The Los Angeles Lakers played the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA 11/22/2016. Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton look on as Los Angeles Lakers guard Jose Calderon #5 welcomes Los Angeles Lakers guard Louis Williams #23 to the bench in the first half. The Los Angeles Lakers played the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA 11/22/2016. Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

The job description calls for Jose Calderon to work hard in practice without any guaranteed playing time. The Lakers want him to mentor the team’s younger players without any assurances he will receive anything in return. And the Lakers expect Calderon to stay ready to step on the court on short notice.

Despite that challenging framework, the early returns suggests Calderon can fulfill that challenge. While Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell missed his second game in a week because of persisting knee soreness, the Lakers secured a 111-109 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday at Staples Center for reasons beyond Nick Young making a game-winning 3-pointer.

Calderon chipped in with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting, six rebounds and four assists in 22 minutes. He ensured a balanced offense that featured double-digit performances from Jordan Clarkson (18 points), Young (17), Timofey Mozgov (16), Lou Williams (13) and Brandon Ingram (11). And for all the mixed head-scratching and amusement over Young stealing an intended pass for him, Williams pinpointed a different factor that ensured the Lakers (8-7) snapped their 8-game losing streak to the Thunder (8-7).

“I thought Jose played really well,” Williams said. “I thought Jose did a phenomenal job of filling in and giving us that veteran leadership on the floor. He was able to make some big, timely shots. And he held it down.”
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Lakers taking ownership of defensive issues

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton shakes hands with Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black #28 in the 4th quarter. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Brooklyn Nets 125-118 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA 11/15/2016. Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton shakes hands with Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black #28 in the 4th quarter. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Brooklyn Nets 125-118 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA 11/15/2016. Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

The self-criticisms came out of the Lakers’ mouths much faster than most of their defensive rotations.

After the Lakers’ 118-110 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday at Staples Center, it seems safe to say forward Julius Randle would give himself an “F” for his work on Taj Gibson, who had 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting and seven rebounds. It also only took 19 seconds for Gibson to pen the game with a turnaround hook shot.

“I did a terrible job in defending Taj,” Randle said. “I just didn’t play well.”

Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. sounded just as critical. The Bulls outrebounded the Lakers, 56-37. Chicago forward Jimmy Butler lived out his pre-game prediction by scoring 40 points on 14-of-23 shooting. And the Bulls had 60 points in the paint.

So even if Nance collected a career-high 18 points and six rebounds, he still outlined something both he and reserve forward Tarik Black could do better.

“Our interior defense is obviously something that has to get better,” Nance said. “Whether I take more of a shot-blocking role or Tarik can, or we can just keep guys out of the middle more.”

Can the Lakers (7-7) fix those issues when they host the Oklahoma City (8-6) on Tuesday at Staples Center? Good luck. The Lakers rank 27th out of 30 NBA teams in points allowed (109.6). They have the unfortunate task of defending Thunder guard and former UCLA standout Russell Westbrook, who posted a triple double last month against the Lakers. And they face an Oklahoma City team that ranks third in total rebounding (46.6).

Nonetheless, Lakers coach Luke Walton liked hearing about his players’ self-evaluations.

“That’s what we want,” Walton said. “We don’t want them to be too hard on themselves. We want them to be critical of themselves. We want them to take more ownership. If we have defensive coverages and they’re out there and something is not working, we want them to be given the freedom as a group make that change and guard it differently.”

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Lakers’ Larry Nance Jr. posts career-high performance in loss to Bulls

Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. dunks against Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic on Sunday at Staples Center. AP Photo/Alex Gallardo

Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. dunks against Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic on Sunday at Staples Center. AP Photo/Alex Gallardo

As he continuously fulfills the highlight reels and furthers his case for the 2017 NBA Dunk contest, Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. outlines a pretty simple explanation for endlessly defying gravity.

“I just jump as high as I can,” Nance said, “and try to get a hand on the ball.”

But as he demonstrated in the Lakers’ 118-110 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday at Staples Center, Nance posted a career-high 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting and six rebounds by not just relying on his athletic abilities. He also showed a knack for fulfilling the old adage in being in the right place at the right time.

He threw a tip pass to Lakers forward Tarik Black for an easy basket. Nance slid toward the hoop between defenders for a few putback dunks. He made himself available for open looks.

“He’s going to get those putbacks. He’s going to do the little things on defense,” Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell said. “He’s going to talk. On offense, he finishes around the rim. He rolls, sets great screens and does all the little things.”
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Former Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar expresses concerns about racial inequalities

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at the South Los Angeles Get Out The Vote Rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in June. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at the South Los Angeles Get Out The Vote Rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in June. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Below is a Q&A with former Lakers and UCLA center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar about his political and social activism, racial inequalities, athletes that take social and political stands, among other issues.

You have listed Jackie Robinson, Dr. Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X as some of your mentors. What did you learn from them/which messages resonate with you?

Abdul-Jabbar:
“From all four, I learned the meaning of courage. For each of them, it wasn’t enough to talk about what was right, they took action, putting their own safety in peril in order to do the right thing. Their example of enduring so much public hatred yet still forging head to further the cause of equality made me realize I would be ashamed if I didn’t do my part.”

What racial issues did you experience as a child, college student and even a professional athlete?

Abdul-Jabbar: “Every person of color or of a religious minority or exploring gender identity in this country has stories of being discriminated against. My experiences were no worse than theirs. Yes, I was called all the popular racial slurs from the time I was in middle school until today. Every time I write an article I unleash the hounds of racism who bark and snarl in the anonymity of the internet.

There are two aspects of racism, and all discrimination. First, is the physical threat. When I was in high school, I was coming come by subway from playing basketball with some friends and got off in Harlem in the middle of a protest demonstration that turned violent. People were running everywhere to escape the violence. Even though I had nothing to do with the protest, I was suddenly running for my life, cursing the fact that I was so tall and therefore more of a target. This awoke me to how much being black was a constant physical threat to my life.

The second aspect is the intense feeling of betrayal by the society I was born into, raised in, and love. Yet, people feel entitled and justified in trying to make me feel less of an American and less of a human being than they are. Today, that betrayal comes in the form of institutional racism that results in unarmed black people being killed by police, by rampant poverty, and by politicians who do nothing because they don’t get donations from the poor.”
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