The joyful man sat by his locker. Nick Young scrolled through his phone. He teased one particular reporter as he often does. He then listened to some music.
That pre-game routine then came to an abrupt halt. Lakers coach Luke Walton approached him and indicated he would like to speak with Young privately. Walton hardly berated Young, though. With Walton planning to start Young in place of an injured Luol Deng, the Lakers’ coach simply challenged Young to take advantage of that opportunity by playing defense.
Nearly two hours later, the Lakers secured a 124-115 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday at Citizens Business Bank Arena as Young provided 14 points on a 5-of-8 clip, four rebounds and two steals. The play impressed Walton so much that he described Young’s defense as “spectacular.”
“Obviously he’s going to make shots here or there,” Walton said. “But defensively, he’s fighting over screens, making one-on-one [stops] and getting in and mixing it up.” Continue reading →
Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson argued the triangle offense helped keep tension between Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant at bay. (Will Lester/Staff Photographer) Kobe and Shaq
The tension between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal disturbed Phil Jackson so much that he once likened it to “sandbox stuff.”
Yet, there marked one significant thing that Jackson believed prevented Bryant and O’Neal from always throwing sand at each other. Of course, talent came into play when the two won three NBA championships together. But Jackson also pointed his triangle offense that established structure for both players.
“By having an offense that was focused on really putting the ball in the middle of the center and having that triangle system in place, that gave the whole emphasis to the team to put the ball inside and we can dominate at this particular position,” Jackson said on “The Big Podcast with Shaq” for an episode released on Monday. “As the game goes on, whether it’s situations presenting itself or Shaq is out of the game, Kobe had an opportunity to do things that are important to his game and find a way to contribute.” Continue reading →
ONTARIO — The plays looked so easy as D’Angelo Russell navigated all over the court and seemingly did everything.
He made outside shots. He attacked the basket and converted on a floater and bank shot. He threw nifty passes. He forced turnovers.
Time and time again these moments happened. All of which created a montage of entertaining plays in the Lakers’ 124-115 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday at Citizens Business Bank Arena that capture both Russell’s talent and potential.
He posted a team-leading 33 points, three assists and three steals, while shooting 13-of-19 from the field and 4-of-7 from 3-point range. This marked the second consecutive exhibition game he posted at least 20 points. And after blemishing his preseason play with a handful of turnovers, Russell trimmed that number to two.
The source of Russell’s production goes beyond the skills that made the Lakers draft him No. 2 overall last year. It also stems from a rookie season that featured fluctuating roles, tension with Lakers coach Byron Scott and only flashes of the kind of play Russell has shown thus far in training camp.
“I wasn’t upset with last year. But I knew what I was capable of, and I didn’t get to showcase it,” Russell said. “So going into this year, I wanted to start summer league. I knew I was going to play in summer league. Preseason, I wanted to show what I’m capable of and that I’ve been working on it. That’s what I’m going to prove this year.” Continue reading →
Lakers head coach Luke Walton, right, gives instructions to Brandon Ingram during a preseason game against the Kings at Honda Center on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (Photo by Kyusung Gong, Orange County Register/SCNG)
ONTARIO — His past job gave Luke Walton a first-hand look at a daily clinic that featured the Golden State Warriors mastering the 3-point shot.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson buried them seemingly anytime and anywhere they touched the ball. The Warriors created more open looks with crisp ball movement and balanced floor spacing. And with those ingredients staying consistent, Walton spent the past two years as a Warriors assistant seeing that team lead the league in both 3-point shots made and 3-point field-goal percentage.
Walton said he has not set any expectations for the Lakers in both 3-point attempts and shots made. After all, the Lakers’ young and developing roster can hardly draw comparisons to the Warriors.
Instead, Walton has outlined specific offensive principles he believes he elevate the Lakers’ outside shooting.
“The floor should be spaced with free-flowing ball movement going side-to-side. If you’re a shooter and you’re open, I want you to shoot it,” Walton said. “Whether they go in or not, a lot of times that’s out of our control as coaches. As long as you put the time and work in and it’s a shot within the rhythm of the offense and it’s not a forced 3-point shot, we’ll keep encouraging them to keep taking them.” Continue reading →
Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson, left, tries to steal the ball from the Kings’ George Papagiannis during a preseason game at Honda Center on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (Photo by Kyusung Gong, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The uproar all focused on the shot.
Lakers rookie forward Brandon Ingram pumped his fist after he unexpectedly banked in a 3-pointer. His teammates from the bench smiled and clapped as they saw the rookie bask in the moment following some early shooting struggles. And the Lakers’ fans at Staples Center cheered loudly after seeing Ingram’s potential as an outside shooter.
How that play unfolded in the Lakers’ 101-97 preseason loss to Denver on Friday at Staples Center did not garner nearly as much attention. Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson had just scored on a basket. He stole an inbounds pass. He then set up Ingram at the top of the key for the wide-open 3-pointer.
All of which perfectly captured how Clarkson has become the Lakers’ most efficient player thus far despite an unassuming role. He rarely calls much attention to himself. For at least the first two preseason games, Lakers coach Luke Walton also has featured Clarkson in a reserve role while starting veteran guard Lou Williams. That has not stopped Clarkson though from leading the Lakers with an average of 13.5 points through two exhibition games.
“It’s cool as long as I’m on the court. I want to impact the game and be aggressive on offense,” Clarkson said. “I’m going to score and get after it defensively. It’s the same thing for me.” Continue reading →
It has become ingrained in Brandon Ingram’s mind not to expect to spend his rookie season in the starting lineup immediately. But sometimes external circumstances will thrust him in that position and test his readiness.
The Lakers’ second preseason game might mark one of those moments. The Lakers (1-0) have listed veteran forward Luol Deng as doubtful for Friday’s exhibition against the Denver Nuggets (1-0) at Staples Center because of a bruised left knee. He collided with Lakers forward Anthony Brown during Thursday’s practice. Although the Lakers had not yet diagnosed him then, Leng admitted feeling pain in his left knee after practice before downplaying the severity of it.
Ingram showed a mix of good and bad in his preseason debut in the Lakers’ win against Sacramento on Tuesday at Honda Center. He only scored two points and missed all five of his shots in 27 minutes off the bench. But Ingram also added two rebounds, two blocks and one steal. Deng had eight points on a 3-of-7 clip in 16 minutes as a starter.
Subsequently, Deng’s possible absence could open up more playing time for Brown and Nick Young, who had a healthy scratch in the preseason opener.
The Lakers have not just spent their offseason making changes to their roster. They also made changes to their training staff and analytics department.
The Lakers officially announced the hirings of Jennifer Swanson (Head Physical Therapist), Stacey Robinson (Massage Therapist and Sean Light (Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach). The Lakers also hired Lorena Martin (Director of Sports Performance Analytics) and Jae Kim (Basketball Data Analyst). While Martin will report to assistant general manager Glenn Carraro, Kim will report to Director of Basketball Analytics Yuju Lee.
The Lakers also added Joshua Wright, who will serve as the Assistant to Lakers coach Luke Walton. Continue reading →
Lakers’ Tarik Black, right, goes for a basket past the Kings’ George Papagiannis during a preseason game at Honda Center on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (Photo by Kyusung Gong, Orange County Register/SCNG)
ANAHEIM — The big man threw down a dunk with thunderous force.
On the surface, the play could have just revealed Tarik Black’s bruising strength with his listed 6-foot-9, 250-pound frame. But symbolically it could have represented Black finally unleashing his power that often went unused in a previously frustrating season.
But instead of sitting on the bench, Black played a large part in securing the Lakers’ 103-84 victory over the Sacramento Kings in their preseason opener on Tuesday at Honda Center. Black represented a second unit that chipped away at a 13-point deficit in the second half. He posted 15 points on 5-of-5 shooting and five rebounds. And even if it’s necessary to consider the Kings mostly rested their starters, Black validated something he felt all along as he mostly sat on the bench last season.
“I’ve always had faith in myself and knew I could play, even when I did get opportunities last season, I did positive things,” Black said. “I just didn’t have the opportunities.” Continue reading →
The Lakers and Kings locked arms during the national anthem before their preseason opener on Tuesday at Anaheim’s Honda Center. Photo: Mark Medina/Southern California News Group
ANAHEIM — The Lakers’ first sign of unity did not happen on a play. Instead, it happened when the players locked arms together during the national anthem before Tuesday’s exhibition.
With San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial justice issues, the Lakers wanted to express their own protest while remaining sympathetic to those that view the anthem as paying respect toward the military. The Kings made a similar gesture.
“We fully support our players in exercising their right of expression over an issue that is so important,” the Lakers announced in a statement. “We also applaud the NBA and the NBA Players Association for their collaborative work in expanding the dialogue and for their spirit of cooperation. Finally, we also look forward to furthering our participation on this issue through our Building Bridges with Basketball campaign and our Community Conversation events.” Continue reading →
#11 Yi Jianlian at LA Lakers Media Day at their El Segundo training facility. Photos by Brad Graverson/SCNG/The Daily Breeze/09-26-16
It has become nearly impossible for Yi Jianlian not to stand out. His 7-foot-0, 250-pound frame makes Yi noticeable in a crowd already filled with tall basketball players.
Yi has cast even more attention, though, for what he has done with the basketball. During closed portions of training camp practice and the tail-end sessions that the media has seen, Yi has made a large chunk of shots from 3-point range.
So much that Walton called Yi “probably our best 3-point shooter out of the bigs,” including starting center Timofey Mozgov and rookie center Ivica Zubac.
“He’s been shooting the heck out of the ball, which is obviously something we can use,” Walton said. “He’s a big man that can step behind the 3-point line and help space the ball. I’m a big believer in playing an open space style of game.”