Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash draw rave reviews in five-on-five scrimmage

Once their Hall of Fame induction officially materializes for Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, these images will likely become lost amid the dizzying array of memorable performances.

But for a pair that spent more time in the past year bonding in the training room than actually on a basketball court, Bryant and Nash showed plenty of moments in the team’s first formal five-on-five scrimmage on Wednesday that left the Lakers inspired. Both Bryant and Nash appeared to shed plenty of layers of rust after playing in only a combined 21 games last season because of too many ailments to count.

After playing in only six games last season amid left Achilles and left knee injuries, Bryant provided numerous highlights that included a right-handed dunk, multiple pull-up jumpers and fluid movement. A week ago, Bryant impressed the Lakers during an informal five-on-five scrimmage with his movement, shooting accuracy and lift, though he did not dunk. This scrimmage also featured three officials.

“I understand the level of curiosity,” Bryant said. “I just do what I do.”

After appearing in only 15 games last season because of nerve root irritation in his back and hamstrings, Nash appeared like his vintage self in so many ways. He ran pick-and-roll sets naturally. Bryant set Nash up for an open 18-foot jumper that he canned. Nash set up others too many times to count.

“Steve impressed me and Kobe impressed me,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “For not playing basketball that much, to play the way they did today and get up and down the floor the way they did yesterday, I was impressed.”
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Lakers’ individual tickets go on sale on Thursday

"Lakers host their annual Media Day in El Segundo, CA. Monday September 29, 2014.  (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)"

“Lakers host their annual Media Day in El Segundo, CA. Monday September 29, 2014. (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)”

Lakers’ individual tickets will go on sale beginning on Thursday at 10 a.m., available through either the Lakers’ Web site or by calling 1-888-929-7849.

The Lakers say 1,000 tickets are available for each of their 41 home games at Staples Center, but that people are limited toward buying four tickets per game. These tickets won’t be available to purchase at the Staples Center box office.


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

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Kobe Bryant supportive of Pau Gasol

Kobe Bryant says he was "sad" Pau Gasol left for the Chicago Bulls. But Bryant was also happy for Gasol. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant says he was “sad” Pau Gasol left for the Chicago Bulls. But Bryant was also happy for Gasol. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant hardly seems the sentimental type.

He displays his dominating personality during epic performances or with fiery exchanges with teammates. Bryant shows a sharp and sarcastic sense of humor. For all the dramatics that surround Bryant’s legend, often he would rather let his work tell the whole story than trying to wax poetic about it.

But Bryant always held a special soft spot for Pau Gasol, whose departure this offseason to the Chicago Bulls struck an emotional cord in Bryant’s heart.

“When he called me and told me, I was sad because when he got here, we turned this organization around,” Bryant said, mindful of the Lakers’ acquiring Gasol in 2008 from Memphis immediately resulted in three NBA Finals appearances and two NBA titles. “So I was sad and told him that. But at the same time, I was happy for him because he felt really excited and rejuvenated about going to a new situation.”

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Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash to sit out second two-a-day session

The Lakers will hold out Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash out of practice soon, but the reasons hardly point to any setbacks the veteran guards experienced thus far in training camp.

Bryant practiced for two hours and 15 minutes of the Lakers’ three-hour practice on Tuesday, while Nash played for about 90 minutes without any limitations or setbacks. But in the interest of maximizing the health of Bryant and Nash, Lakers coach Byron Scott will sit them out of the evening portion of the team’s scheduled two-a-day session on Wednesday. Bryant and Nash will still practice on Wednesday morning.

“I want them to get to scrimmaging,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “That’s important sine they haven’t played much basketball in over the last year. I think both of them want to get the scrimmaging in and want to play.”

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Nick Young keeps Lakers’ Media Day entertaining

"Lakers Nick Young is all smiles as he does a interview as the LA Lakers host their annual Media Day in El Segundo, CA. Monday September 29, 2014.  (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)"

“Lakers Nick Young is all smiles as he does a interview as the LA Lakers host their annual Media Day in El Segundo, CA. Monday September 29, 2014. (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)”

His loud voice carried across the Lakers’ practice facility. His wide smile instantly created positive energy. His playfulness instantly created laughs among teammates, coaches and reporters alike.

The Lakers will begin training camp on Tuesday, hoping that a healthier Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, Byron’s coaching staff and renewed hunger will scrub away the stench from last season’s 27-55 record, the tram’s worst record in L.A. franchise history. But when it comes toward providing colorful quotes, Nick Young already appears in mid-season form.

After endlessly photobombing teammates’ interviews and playfully talking trash to them during the Lakers’ Media Day on Monday, Young opened up his interview with a heavy dose of bravado.

“I’m feeling great,” said Young, in high spirits two months after the Lakers signed him to a four-year, $24 million deal. “I’m a star. That’s about it.”
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Julius Randle, Carlos Boozer eager for a fruitful partnership

"Lakers host their annual Media Day in El Segundo, CA. Monday September 29, 2014.  (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)"

“Lakers host their annual Media Day in El Segundo, CA. Monday September 29, 2014. (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)”

In between countless workouts and film sessions, Julius Randle had a rare moment to himself where he could soak everything in. The Lakers drafting him seventh overall became a “dream come true.” So did teaming up with Kobe Bryant, his childhood idol.

Randle had plenty of time to register it all the past three months. But as he put on the Lakers’ uniform for the team’s annual media day on Monday, everything struck him at once.

“I was looking at myself in the mirror not too long ago,” Randle said. “Let me keep this on.”

Yet, Randle fully understands nothing becomes guaranteed in ensuring that he will always wear that purple and gold uniform laced with a “16 X” logo indicating the number of championships they won.

When the Lakers drafted Randle, it appeared likely he would start and arguably become the second most important player on the team behind Bryant. Since then, the Lakers acquired 12-year NBA veteran Carlos Boozer off the amnesty wire, and Lakers coach Byron Scott has indicated he currently favors him to start at power forward.

“Carlos probably shoots the ball a little bit better,” Scott said. “But Julius probably handles the ball better too. They have a lot of things they can help each other with, but Carlos is one of those guys who is a positive guy and can be a mentor to him.”

Randle sounded open to the idea.

“That doesn’t bother me at all,” Randle said. “I don’t want anything given to me in the first place. He’s been at this level and he’s played at such a high, productive level. So whether he starts or not, he deserves what he gets because he’s put in the time and he’s been successful. But I have to prove myself through my work ethic and me producing because nothing’s going to be given to me.”
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Steve Nash in better health, but how long will it last?

Steve Nash, who has missed 99 games over the last two season, admits there’s no guarantees for this one. THOMAS R. CORDOVA — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Steve Nash, who has missed 99 games over the last two season, admits there’s no guarantees for this one. THOMAS R. CORDOVA — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The positive vibes lasted all summer for Steve Nash, finally able to train and play basketball without nerve root irritation flare up in his back in unexpected moments. Unlike the past two years where he missed a combined 99 games because of root damage to his back and hamstrings, Nash practiced all summer unscathed.

Yet, Nash sounded well aware that his positive spirits and health may sour as quickly as one of his nifty no-look passes.

“It’s been such a bad run with that nerve that I don’t wan to make any forecasts,” Nash said. “I felt great this summer, but it’s a lot different working out in a gym on your own than it is pounding up and down every day. So there’s no guarantees. I’m just trying to enjoy every day for what I have and what I can give.”
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Kobe Bryant enters 2014-15 season with mixed emotions

Kobe Bryant is surrounded by the media as the Lakers host their annual Media Day in El Segundo. Thomas R. Cordova—staff photographer

Kobe Bryant is surrounded by the media as the Lakers host their annual Media Day in El Segundo. Thomas R. Cordova—staff photographer

A calming presence loomed around Kobe Bryant as he walked around the Lakers’ practice court, filming endless promotional spots and answering endless questions amid a swarm of people commanding his attention and time.

But as the Lakers’ 2014-15 season officially started with the team’s media day on Monday at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo, the pleasant and smiling exterior masked the more conflicted emotions Bryant felt inside. Bryant remains only a season removed from when he played only six games because of injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left knee, a stretch that coincided with the Lakers finishing with their worst record in L.A. franchise history. Hence, why Bryant had plenty on his mind.

“It’s a mixture of excitement, it’s a mixture of a little nervousness, it’s a mixture of rage,” Bryant said. “It’s a mixture of a lot of things. I’m trying to see if I can prove to myself that I can be myself. All those words and the doubts adds fuel to that.”

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Lakers depth chart breakdown: Ryan Kelly

Los Angeles Lakers Ryan Kelly (4) defends against Utah Jazz's Derrick Favors (15) in the first quarter during an NBA basketball game Monday, April 14, 2014, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Los Angeles Lakers Ryan Kelly (4) defends against Utah Jazz’s Derrick Favors (15) in the first quarter during an NBA basketball game Monday, April 14, 2014, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Below is the ninth in a series previewing the story lines surrounding each player on the Lakers’ roster for the 2014-15 season. This post focuses on Lakers forward Ryan Kelly.

1. Where does Kelly fit in the Lakers’ frontcourt?
It almost seems inevitable that one of the Lakers’ forwards will wind up losing in a game of musical chairs. Barring any major injuries, the Lakers will not be able to find a consistent and productive role for all of their power forwards, including Carlos Boozer, Ed Davis, Julius Randle and Kelly (playing each player 12 minutes a game would seem pretty counter productive). This left Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak acknowledging that coach Byron Scott may resort toward playing small for a number of reasons.

The Lakers do not have any player listed above seven feet, leaving Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre as the lone true centers. The Lakers’ glut of forwards could leave opportunity for someone, such as Kelly, to play at small forward. That might become a reality for Kelly given his strong outside shooting and floor spacing. But that creates a whole other list of challenges. He would then compete for minutes against Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and Xavier Henry, all of whom may also see some time at shooting guard. Regardless of how this plays out, it seems clear that Kelly enters the 2014-15 season with a number of unpredictable variables that could determine his role. Given Kelly’s professional and hard-working personality, it appears he will understand such issues. But it creates an additional challenge that Kelly must master.
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Jeremy Lin, Steve Nash star in another parody video

In exactly one day, Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin will have more clarity on how their common experiences could shape them into having a fruitful partnership.

Both entered the NBA as underdogs. Both thrived under former Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni in separate stints of their career. Both have something to prove this season.

And as the video above shows, both have an incredible sense of humor. Nash made a cameo appearance in Lin’s latest parody video that mostly entails his friends pressuring him to take advantage of the Hollywood spotlight and appear in various commercials. The end of the video then features Lin concluding he would rather concentrate on basketball, leading his two friends to argue over who can emulate Nash and Bryant to help Lin prepare for the season.

But just as they settle on which Lakers stars they will emulate, Nash makes a surprise appearance and takes over to help Lin. This marks the second time Nash and Lin teamed up together on a parody video, appearing last year in a spoof that poked fun on how Lin’s personality changed through “Linsanity.” Perhaps this marks the beginning of a fruitful on-court partnership.


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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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