Lakers’ Kobe Bryant adjusting to heavy legs

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, center, gets double teamed by Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (21) and center JaVale McGee, right, as he drives to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, center, gets double teamed by Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (21) and center JaVale McGee, right, as he drives to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Even when the shots are not dropping into the basket, Kobe Bryant remains determined that they will. He will keep firing away confident those once inaccurate attempts will soon morph into a hot shooting streak.

But even Bryant has his limits. He enters the Lakers’ (3-11) game on Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center averaging a league-leading 26.7 points per game albeit on a career-low 38.1 percent shooting. In the second half of the Lakers’ past two games, Bryant has shot a combined 7-of-24 from the field. Said Bryant: “My shots have been really short even though my legs feel good.”

Hence, Bryant spent Tuesday discussing with Lakers coach Byron Scott and strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco about changing his routine.

“It’s a fine balance at 36 trying to find a rhythm of strengthening the legs as the season goes on without wearing them out,” Bryant said. “We’re in uncharted territory in terms of trying to figure it out. But we will.”

Bryant openly envisioned spreading out non-game days that will entail different recovery approaches. Some days will consist of ice baths. Others will consist of weight lifting sessions on his lower body. And other days, Bryant will do absolutely nothing, such as during Tuesday’s practice.

Meanwhile, Scott conceded he could decrease Bryant’s playing time that has currrently entailed playing between 30-40 minutes per game. Bryant has averaged 35.7 minutes per contest through 14 appearances. Scott added his approach will hinge on how Bryant performs in the Lakers’ homestand this week, which includes games against Memphis (Wednesday), Minnesota (Friday) and Toronto (Sunday). The Lakers then have a three-game, five-day trip the following week with stops in Detroit (Tuesday), Washington (Wednesday) and Boston (Friday).

“It’s a work in progress,” Scott said. “He’s played 19 years. He knows his body better than anybody. But we can see also that watching the tap everything was a tad short. That tells me the legs were a little fatigued.”

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Ferguson ruling: Lakers’ Kobe Bryant calls for “serious legal system conversation”

"Demonstrators protest and block traffic as they take to the streets as a show of civil disobedience in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri on November 23, 2014.  Police erected barricades and businesses were boarded up November 23, 2014 as the clock ticked down to a grand jury decision on whether to indict a white officer for shooting dead an unarmed black teenager.    AFP PHOTO / Michael B.ThomasMichael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images"

“Demonstrators protest and block traffic as they take to the streets as a show of civil disobedience in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri on November 23, 2014. Police erected barricades and businesses were boarded up November 23, 2014 as the clock ticked down to a grand jury decision on whether to indict a white officer for shooting dead an unarmed black teenager. AFP PHOTO / Michael B.ThomasMichael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images”

It sounded chilling to hear Lakers guard Kobe Bryant say it.

But with a grand jury declining on Monday to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for his role in the death of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown three months ago in Ferguson, MO, Bryant suggested a similar incident could happen again. After all, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot 2 1/2 years ago by George Zimmerman despite remaining unarmed and only wearing a hoodie in his Florida neighborhood.

“You can sit here and argue about it until we’re blue in the face and protest about it,” Bryant said following practice on Tuesday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “Until we have a serious legal system conversation, it’s going to keep on happening.”
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TWC SportsNet panel discusses Xavier Henry’s injury

As if the Lakers did not have enough injuries already.

They learned on Monday night that they would love Xavier Henry for the 2014-15 season after an MRI confirmed a ruptured left Achilles. Henry only averaged 2.2 points in 9.6 minutes through nine games, making his absence far less severe than season-injuries to veteran guard Steve Nash (back) or rookie forward Julius Randle (power forward). But it still diminishes the Lakers’ depth. It also denied Henry the chance to prove he could regain the explosiveness he has last year that enabled him to average a career-high 10 points per game. He had offseason surgeries on his left wrist and right knee. Henry also became limited in training camp with back spasms and needed to go to Germany to have Regenokine treatment on his right knee.

This all became a topic of discussion Monday night on Time Warner Cable’s Access SportsNet where host Kelli Tennant, analyst Dave Miller and I talked about Henry’s injury and his efforts this past offseason to become healthy.

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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’ Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash upset over Ferguson ruling

The common links between Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash go beyond their Hall of Fame credentials. Or their recent struggles in battling through injuries.

Both Bryant and Nash also expressed outrage via Twitter over the a grand jury declining on Monday to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for his role in the death of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown. The incident has sparked protests before and after ruling. The incident inflamed racial tensions. The incident also sparked strong reaction thus far from Bryant and Nash.


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Lakers’ Byron Scott plans to rest Kobe Bryant more in practice

"Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach Byron Scott studies the action in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)"

“Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach Byron Scott studies the action in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)”

The lift from Kobe Bryant’s legs have looked sluggish. So has his shooting percentage. It has become so noticeable that even Bryant himself has commented in recent days about fatigue catching up to him.

Lakers coach Byron Scott pledged he would play Bryant between 30-40 minutes in hopes to preserve his 36-year-old body. So will Scott scale back Bryant’s playing time even more?

“Still kind of keep it where it is,” Scott said. “It prompts me to give him more days off, if anything, so I can keep it in the 30-40 range.”
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Lakers’ Xavier Henry out for season with ruptured left Achilles

An MRI taken on Monday shows that Lakers reserve forward Xavier Henry has a ruptured left Achilles tendon, an injury that will sideline him for the rest of the 2014-15 season.

Henry suffered the injury during a 3-on-3 drill during Monday’s practice, and Lakers officials immediately feared what the MRI later confirmed. The Lakers (3-11) have played only 14 games, but they already have season-ending injuries to veteran guard Steve Nash (back) and rookie forward Julius Randle (right leg). Lakers reserve forward Ryan Kelly is also sidelined for at least the next five weeks amid recurring injuries to his hamstrings.

Because of their long-term absences, Nash, Randle and Henry will have missed a combined 236 games due to injuries. Last season, the Lakers missed a combined 319 games in what marked their worst season in L.A. franchise history.

Henry is scheduled to have surgery on Tuesday morning with Dr. Neal ElAttrache and Dr. Steve Lombardo of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic. As of now, the Lakers have not offered any estimated recovery timetable other than Henry will not play for the remainder of the season.

Henry only averaged 2.2 points in 9.6 minutes through nine games while playing for two games for the Lakers’ Development League affiliate, the D-Fenders. That marks a steep dropoff from the career-high 10 points he posted last season despite missing 39 games because of injuries to his left wrist and right knee, both of which had offseason surgery. Henry also underwent the so-called Regenokine treatment on his knee in Dusseldorf, Germany, but Lakers coach Byron Scott noticed his explosiveness had diminished.

The Lakers have not committed toward what their next step will entail. But they would be eligible to apply for a disabled player exception that would be worth about $550,000, about half of Henry’s salary. The Lakers were granted a $1.5 million disabled player exception for Randle, but are still waiting from the NBA on their $4.5 million disabled player exception on Nash. All of the exceptions have to be used separately either to sign a player through free agency or through a trade.

With the Lakers fielding four injured players, they are also eligible to apply for the NBA’s hardship exception, which allows a team to add a 16th player on their roster. Once Kelly returns, the Lakers would then have to trim their roster down to 15. Only Ronnie Price and Wayne Ellington have non-guaranteed contracts;.

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’ Xavier Henry to have MRI on possible ruptured left Achilles

The Lakers believe Xavier Henry ruptured his left Achilles on Monday during a three-on-three drill. He will have an MRI this afternoon. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

The Lakers believe Xavier Henry ruptured his left Achilles on Monday during a three-on-three drill. He will have an MRI this afternoon.
(Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

It seems hard to imagine given how full the Lakers’ training room has already become. But the Lakers just took another significant turn with their injury-ravaged roster.

Lakers forward Xavier Henry will receive an MRI on Monday after the team feared he ruptured his left Achilles tendon during a three-on-three-on-three drill during this morning’s practice. That means Henry will likely stay sidelined for the rest of the 2014-15 season.

“Knowing the kid I know him and how hard he worked, obviously we’re all very hurt for Xavier,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “We know he worked his butt off to get back. It’s a down day for us.”

The incident prompted the Lakers to end practice immediately.

“He made a move like most guys do when they mess up their Achilles,” Scott said. “No one hit them or anything like that when they went down. It pretty much said to us that he heard a pop. We helped him in the locker room.”

That’s a similar feeling Kobe Bryant described happening when he tore his left Achilles tendon on April 2013. The injury sidelined Bryant for eight months before playing in only six games before injuring his left knee in what ultimate kept him out for the rest of the 2013-14 season.

Henry’s absence is hardly as significant as Bryant’s, obviously. Henry re-signed with the Lakers to a one-year deal this offseason worth around $1 million after averaging a career-high 10 points per game. Henry also only averaged 2.2 points in 9.6 minutes through nine games after rehabbing this offseason on a surgically repaired right knee and left wrist. Scott had also expressed doubt Henry could restore his athleticism after Henry had Regenokine treatment on his knee in Dusseldorf, Germany. That non-invasive procedure involved blood being removed from Henry’s knee and spun in a centrifuge. Doctors then created a serum and inject it back into his knee to fight off proteins and molecules that cause inflammation.

Meanwhile, the Lakers already have season-ending injuries to Steve Nash (back) and Julius Randle (right leg). Lakers forward Nick Young also sat out for six weeks after having surgery on his right thumb, while Ryan Kelly has played in only three games amid overlapping hamstring injuries.

With the Lakers (3-11) entering Wednesday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies (2-12) with their worst start in franchise history, can things get any worse?

“I try not to because it might rear its ugly head and show me whats next,” Scott said, laughing. “I’ll go home tonight and say a prayer for Xavier and the rest of the guys that we have injured.”

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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’ Ed Davis downplays right ankle injury in sluggish first start

The Lakers gushed over Ed Davis’ endless energy. The Staples Center crowd marveled at his blocks that he spiked powerfully away from the basket. The potential seemed so promising that public sentiment expressed on Twitter and in message boards suggested Davis should soon take a spot in the Lakers’ starting lineup.

That finally happened, but it hardly looked pretty in the Lakers’ 101-94 loss on Sunday to the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. With Lakers forward Carlos Boozer nursing a sore left shoulder, Davis posted only four points and five rebounds before fouling out in 22 minutes.

“This was more of an opportunity to play and help the team,” Davis said. “But I fouled out so I didn’t do a good job of that.”

It also didn’t help that Davis rolled his right ankle that he said happened in the third quarter after landing awkwardly following a rebound attempt. Though he eventually reentered the game, Davis quickly went back into the training room for more treatment after fouling out with 10:38 left in the fourth quarter.

“I think I should be fine,” Davis said. “I can walk right now. I’m not in a boot so that’s a good sign.”

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Lakers’ Nick Young suggesting cast hurts his shooting stroke

So much for Nick Young’s swag carrying the Lakers to an undefeated mark.

That fun lasted for two games. But that was hardly present during the Lakers’ 101-94 loss on Sunday to the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. There, Young’s seven-point effort on 2-of-12 shooting hardly matched the performance of his girlfriend Iggy Azalea, the Australian rapper who won favorite rap album and best rap album at the 2014 American Music Awards taking place across the street at Nokia Theatre.

Young vowed he has “no excuses,” but he then said he’s “still trying to find my rhythm” as he nurses a soft cast to support his surgically repaired right thumb that kept him out for the previous six weeks.

“It’s still tough for me playing with a cast on,’ Young said. “I’ll still go out there and compete every night. It’ll fall for me.”

They didn’t fall for Young against Denver. He missed all five of his second-half attempts, including a 30-foot heave just as time expired in regulation. His lone attempt in overtime came on a 10-foot jumper that fell short.

That hardly jibes with the high-volume shooting he unleashed last week against Atlanta (17 points on 6-of-10 shooting) and Houston (16 points on 6-of-15 shooting). But Young suggested he felt more effective in those games while relying on his adrenaline rush stemmed from his initial return. Now, Young said he feels limitations with dribbling with his right hand and adjusting his grip on the ball.

But Young will have to get used to it. He said he will wear the soft cast “for a while” so it can protect the stitches on his thumb.

“I still got to get the hang of things,” Young said. “It’ll come back. I’m not less confident. I have the same confidence in my shot and my teammates.”


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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’ 101-94 loss to Denver prompts Kobe Bryant dependency question

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) battles Denver Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo (10) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) battles Denver Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo (10) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

The clock started ticking away. The Lakers needed a basket to secure the win. So those circumstance meant one thing, and one thing only.

Kobe Bryant would have the ball in his hands. He would shoot the ball. And the Lakers’ success would hinge on whether or not he made the basket.

It didn’t go in.

“I could have gotten a better one,” Bryant said, “but that was a shot I practiced my entire career.”

Bryant’s 19-foot fallaway jumper clanked off the rim just before regulation expired. Nick Young was left standing open at the top of the key. And though the Lakers’ 101-94 loss on Sunday to the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center did not become official until overtime, Bryant’s missed shot opened up a debate that has become all too common during his 19-year career.

Have the Lakers become too dependent on Kobe Bryant?

“Not really,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I thought tonight because of the way they were loading up, they did a great job in forcing them to come at him. When they came at him, he did a great job of finding guys. We just missed shots.”

Not everyone agrees.

“At times, we fall into relying on No. 24 a lot,” Lakers forward Nick Young said. “We got to believe in ourselves. I believe in everybody on this team. Kobe is going to be Kobe. But we have to find a way to put the ball in the hole with everybody else.”

That hardly happened.

Wesley Johnson’s one-handed dunk over Denver’s Danilo Gallinari on a fast-break may have sparked the Lakers enough for Robert Sacre to dance from the bench and ignite the 18,997 fans at Staples Center. The play have given the Lakers a 85-82 lead with 3:15 left in the game. The play have signaled the Lakers (3-11) were ready collect their third win in the past four games by relying on defensive hustle and offensive balance.

But then it didn’t.

The Lakers did not score in the rest of the fourth quarter. Bryant’s 27 points on 10-of-24 shooting featuring him missing seven of his last eight attempts. And though Scott also cited the Lakers’ woes in the fourth quarter and in overtime both from the foul line (7-of-11) and offensive rebound disparity (9-2), Bryant’s shooting accuracy became a topic of conversation.

“I feel like I took myself out of rhythm a little bit. In the third quarter, I might have been too passive and let the game get away from me a little bit,” said Bryant, who attempted only one field goal in the third quarter. “I tried to gain it back a little bit. It’s a tough balance.”

Scott believes he can correct that balance by

three offensive rebounds

“I could have gotten a better one,” Bryant said. “But that was a shot I practiced my entire career.”


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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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