Julius Randle, seen at a pre-draft workout in June, had 10 points and eight rebounds in a Lakers preseason game Monday. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)
The question made Lakers forward Julius Randle initially uncomfortable. After all, he did not want to “jinx” his alma mater.
But a moment later, Randle sounded fully confident that the top-seeded University of Kentucky will keep its 34-0 undefeated record intact en route to the 2016 NCAA men’s basketball national championship.
“They’re the most talented team and best team out there,” Randle said following Wednesday’s practice at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. “I haven’t watched other games other than Kentucky. But from what I understand, they have the toughest bracket. I’m not worried about it.” Continue reading →
The snickering started as soon as Lakers Byron Scott saw Nick Young.
With Young staying sidelined for the past 10 games because of a swollen left knee, he spent that idle time fixing up his haircut. The Lakers are still awaiting on the results surrounding his CT scan taken on Monday, a team official saying the holdup simply hinges on an East-Coast based doctor to analyze and inform the franchise on the results. The original scans were read and then misplaced, leaving the Lakers in a state of indecision considering they want medical opinions before taking the next step.
But that did not prevent Young from soaking up all the attention.
“It’s called being at home doing nothing,” said Young, who said his new look came from recently watching Jamie Foxx in ‘Booty Call.’ “I felt like it was time for a change.”
Most of the Lakers rolled their eyes at Young’s antics.
Scott joked that Young hair “looks like a bunch of worms running around” and concluded he “lost a bet.” Lakers rookie forward Julius Randle called Young’s haircut “very special” and compared the look to the character “O-Dog” in “Menace to Society” Lakers forward Ed Davis offered a “no comment” on Young’s hairstyle before siding with Scott since he controls playing time. When asked by Young’s haircut as he walked past him, Lakers forward Wesley Johnson said, “That’s him.”
But what about Scott’s criticism?
“People with no hair wouldn’t understand,” said Young, a jab at Scott being bald. “He had the ability to try things with his hair. But when it’s over with, you tend to turn into a hater to people who got hair. I would be mad at somebody who had hair if I didn’t have hair.”
Young enjoyed all the attention. But when he fielded questions about his left knee, Young walked away. He only shot free throws for a few minutes at the end of Wednesday’s practice after spending most of that time receiving treatment and then watching the team’s scrimmage from the sideline. The Lakers (17-49) have no information other than ruling Young out for Thursday’s game against the Utah Jazz (30-36) at Staples Center.
When will the Lakers know about Young’s health?
“Hopefully sometime this week,” Scott said. “The sooner, the better. Hopefully before the end of this week is over with, we’ll have an idea of whats going on.”
Young has averaged 13.4 points on a career-low 36.6 shooting percent clip, a mark that dipped in January (32.2 percent) and February (32.4 percent). That left Scott outlining a best-case scenario that does not seem likely with 16 games remaining.
“We get results today and start getting him on work tomorrow. But if it’s prolonged a week or so longer, it minimizes his chance of coming back.”
Lakers#6 Jordan Clarkson is contested by “n21″ and Nuggets#23 Jusuf Nurkic in the first half. The Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA February 10, 2015. (Photos by John McCoy / Los Angeles Daily News)
A speedy and sharpshooting point guard kept attacking him. A suffocating defense kept swarming him. A recent shooting slump kept following him.
Yet, Lakers rookie guard Jordan Clarkson stayed calm throughout the process. He stayed locked in on defense. He still created open looks. He knocked those shots down, too.
Sure, Clarkson still committed three first-quarter turnovers in the Lakers’ 108-105 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday at Oracle Arena, which prompted Lakers coach Byron Scott to yank him. Clarkson also sat in the fourth quarter until the final 3:30 shortly after Jeremy Lin committed two of his five turnovers on consecutive possessions.
But Clarkson still quashed any notion that he may have hit the so-called rookie wall, providing a team-leading 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting, six rebounds and three assists. He also largely defended Golden State’s Stephen Curry, whose 19 points came on only 5-of-14 shooting.
“I don’t see how you get tired at 22 years old,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said before reflecting on his 14-year NBA career, including 11 with the Showtime Lakers. “I don’t see how you buy that crap anyway. I didn’t know ice was until I was 26 or 27.”
Yet, former Lakers forwards and Time Warner Cable SportsNet analysts James Worthy and Robert Horry believed fatigue and the so-called rookie wall led to Clarkson shooting a combined 32.2 percent clip in the previous three games.
“James is trying to be sympathetic to these young guys nowadays and is getting a little soft,” Scott said with a smile. “Gotta find something to talk about.”
Clarkson acknowledged that teams are loading up on screens and forcing him to speed up his tempo, which he believed led to his three turnovers. But as far as playing more games, more practices and more minutes than he ever experienced in college? Well, Clarkson found it absurd.
“I haven’t really thought about it with minutes or hitting a rookie wall,” Clarkson said. “Of course it’s a long season, but I’m still here and my motor is still going.”
Clarkson used that motor effectively against Golden State.
He attacked the lane aggressively to create both open runners and jump shots. Clarkson collaborated with the Lakers’ frontline in attacking the perimeter early both to deny open three-point shots and prevent Curry from running pick-and-roll. Through all those sequences, Clarkson appeared more vocal in both directing his teammates where to cut on offense and where to rotate on defense.
But first things first.
Clarkson narrowed back criticism toward himself. He called his game just “all right” because of his three turnovers. Clarkson also faulted himself for missing a layup as the Lakers trailed 104-101 with 32 seconds left.
“I got to be more vocal as a point guard, getting guys into places and continuing to talk to my teammates,” Clarkson said. “We’ve been around each other. We’re trying to play more with guys. The guys I’ve been on the floor with are different. But I’m trying to get everybody on the same page.”
All of which Clarkson believes will prevent him from ever hitting that rookie wall.
Lakers#17 Jeremy Lin shoots, but can not hit a 3-pointer against Nuggets#3 Ty Lawson and Nuggets#00 Darrell Arthur in the 4th quarter. The Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 106-96 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA February 10, 2015. (Photos by John McCoy / Los Angeles Daily News)
OAKLAND — He charged up and down the court, determined that his aggressive playmaking would make a positive difference.
Jeremy Lin attacked the basket. He drew frequent trips to the foul line. Lin disrupted the passing lanes. It all appeared part of Lin’s fourth-quarter charge that would lead the Lakers to a rare victory. But just when it appeared he would write that script, Lin literally dropped the ball.
He committed two costly turnovers that soon became a turning point in the Lakers’ 108-105 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday here at Oracle Arena. Lakers coach Byron Scott then removed Lin for the final 3:30 in favor of rookie guard Jordan Clarkson. It concluded a bitter ending for Lin after showing a promising beginning. Lin’s five turnovers overshadowed him scoring seven of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, shooting eight of 10 from the foul line, taking a key charge and collecting a steal.
Scott described Lin’s play as “okay” and credited him for “playing good solid basketball” because of his aggressiveness and defense. But then Scott focused back on Lin’s two turnovers that he called “big,” the latest example explaining why Scott believes Lin often makes bad decisions. With Lin averaging 2.2 turnovers this season and 3.2 in the past five games, how does he reduce those numbers?
“That’s a good question,” Scott said. “I don’t know how you get out of making bad decisions. All we can continue to do is point them out to him, watch film and have him just learn from those experiences in making those bad decisions.”
That film will show Lin throwing a jump pass that Warriors center Andrew Bogut intercepted. That miscue set up guard Stephen Curry delivering a behind-the-back dish to Andre Iguodala for an open layup that gave Golden State a 100-95 lead with 4:05 left. On the next possession, Warriors forward Draymond Green deflected Lin’s pass into traffic. Scott then removed Lin in favor of Clarkson, who had initially sat in the fourth quarter partly because he committed three turnovers.
“I told those guys, you’re the point guard, you have to get us into something every time. You can’t just be flip with the basketball,” Scott said. “This is one of those teams where if you try to thread the needle, there are so long and so quick, you can’t do that. You can’t make the home run play. You have to make the obvious play. That’s where we got ourselves in trouble in trying to make these home-run passes and they were off to the races.”
Lin maintained he never heard Scott offer such analysis to him.
“I haven’t talked to him about the turnovers,” Lin said of Scott. “He hasn’t given me feedback on what he wants me to do to be better.” Continue reading →
Lakers head Clippers Byron Scott doesn’t look happy during the Clippers’ 114-89 victory over the Lakers Wednesday night Jan. 7, 2015 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Kevin Sullivan)
OAKLAND — Amid all the frustrations he has felt over the losses, the game’s evolution and the current players’ mindset, Lakers coach Byron Scott often repeats a phrase nearly every day.
“Different day,” Scott said. “Different age.”
Scott might be saying that again. He sounded incredulous over the Lakers’ 108-105 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday at Oracle Arena for reasons beyond their 18 turnovers. He also questioned the officials rewarding Golden State guard Stephen Curry two free throws to open the fourth quarter over a foul Lakers guard Jeremy Lin committed with 30.4 seconds let in the third quarter.
“They said the scorekeeper didn’t put it up on the board. So they just went back and reviewed it and now they get two free throws,” Scott said. “It boggles my mind. I guess they can review the things the want to review.”
Lakers forward Wesley Johnson had fouled Curry after he canned a 27-foot three-pointer that extended the Warriors’ lead to 81-74 with 1:31 left. Because Lin foul on Curry on a non-shooting play represented the Lakers’ second foul within the last two minutes, Curry immediately should have been awarded two foul shots. Instead, Curry eventually lost the ball on a turnover. Curry was then granted two foul shots to open the fourth quarter and sank both of them for an 84-78 lead.
“I never saw a call being made and you shoot free throws and it’s over,” Scott said. “I’ve seen a whole lot in my 30-something years in the NBA.”
The message sounded sobering, just like some well-needed medicine that also proves difficult to swallow.
Jabari Brown learned he did not make the Lakers’ roster. Instead of offering the usual excuses that Brown became the casualty of a numbers game, Scott avoided the pleasantries and cut to the chase. Lakers coach Byron Scott told Brown he did not show enough aggressiveness both to thrive in the NBA and show he remained hungry enough to make it.
Five months later, Brown still remembered those words and has vowed since the Lakers signed him to a 10-day contract last week that Scott would no longer have that impression. Scott already has changed his view following Brown’s second NBA game. Brown posted nine points on 4-of-5 shooting in 22 minutes off the bench in the Lakers’ 91-86 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday at Staples Center, leading Scott to make the following declaration.
“He is one of those guys next year who will belong in this league,” Scott said. “He guards people and is a tough kid. Offensively, he takes what you give him. He makes good decisions too, which is important. So I think he has a place in this league.”
Where that place resides currently remains undecided. Brown will have two more games with the Lakers (17-48) both tonight in Golden State (52-13) and on Thursday against Utah at Staples Center. But the Lakers will then have to sign Brown to another 10-day contract if they plan to keep him. Yet, the likelihood of that seems more and more likely considering Nick Young’s CT scan scheduled for today may reveal his swollen left knee has not healed enough to return anytime soon, or even this season. After all, the Lakers originally signed Brown partly because Young missed the past 10 games.
But just as it played out in training camp, Scott’s assessment on Brown’s standing with the team had nothing to do with the number of roster spots available. It had everything to do with his play. Brown also impressed Scott in his NBA debut in Thursday’s loss against New York, his seven points on 3-of-6 shooting in 18 minutes off the bench prompting Scott to say, “out of all our guys, I thought Jabari played the best.”
“That’s a good compliment, especially from a guy who played and won championships,” said Brown, referring to Scott winning three NBA titles with the Showtime Lakers. “I’m dedicated and hard working so I’m going to try to keep it going.”
Brown certainly did that against Atlanta.
A minute after checking into the game late in the first quarter, Brown converted on a fast-break layup. Early in the second quarter, Brown pick-pocketed John Jenkins and then received a pass from Carlos Boozer for the open layup. After making that basket, Brown sprinted back on defense. He stayed on the wing. Brown then quickly rotated to the top of the key to contest Kyle Korver’s missed three-pointer.
“I felt good out there,” Brown said. “I’m just trying to play hard on the defensive end and hit open shots.”
Brown fulfilled that job description with the Lakers’ Development League affiliate, the D-Fenders, where he averaged a team-leading 24.4 points per game. But Scott hardly sensed Brown made much impact in training camp, where the undrafted rookie from University of Missouri posted a combined five points, two rebounds and an assist in 22 minutes through four exhibition games.
“He’s been much more aggressive since,” Scott said of Brown. “He was really passive when he was with us. But now he comes in and looks to be aggressive on both ends.”
Brown plans to keep that same mindset tonight when the Lakers play at Golden State at Oracle Arena, where a contingent of friends and family near his Berkeley hometown will see him in a purple and gold uniform.
Brown predicted “it’s going to be fun” and embraced what he called “the challenge” in matching up against Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, whom Brown labeled “two of the best guards in the league.” Then, Brown will continue his ongoing quest in ensuring Scott both offers positive feedback and grants him a permanent role.
“I’m a player who can help them moving forward,” Brown said. “I’m a guy you can put in, help bring in energy, and make good things happen.”
Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson, right, goes up for a shot as Houston Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas, of Lithuania, defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
The shots left his fingertips, making Jordan Clarkson feel good every time about the outcome. But unlike nearly everything that has turned out for him in the past two months, those plays did not provide another moment that the Lakers’ rookie grew before everyone’s eyes.
Instead, the shots kept falling short. Once it all ended, the Lakers’ 91-86 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday at Staples Center featured Clarkson scoring 10 points on a 4-of-13 clip, marking his third consecutive game he has shot within the 30 percent range.
But as Clarkson hits a rookie wall that could partly entail fatigue, he has still exerted himself enough to still positively influence the game. Clarkson still finished with a near triple double with 10 points, a career-high eight rebounds and six assists.
“He played hard,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “He was out there doing the things he needed to do. He just didn’t have a good shooting night. But he guarded people and he made an effort on that department.” Continue reading →
“Lakers head coach Byron Scott talks about the upcoming NBA season at the Lakers training faciltiy in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze) “
The Lakers scanned the lineup card and instantly became irritated.
The Atlanta Hawks offered no bulletin board material or any demeaning comments about the Lakers’ losses or their depleted roster. But Atlanta’s actions spoke loud enough. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer sat three starters, including DeMarre Carroll as well as All-Stars Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague, in hopes to ensure strong health for more important games. In other words, so that Atlanta remains fresh for the NBA playoffs, which the Lakers will miss for the second consecutive year.
“When teams rest against you, you feel disrespected,” Lakers guard Wayne Ellington said. “We wanted to come out and we wanted to fight and let them know they can’t do that against us.”
Well, the Hawks discovered they could.
The Lakers still lost, 91-86, to Atlanta in what marked the team’s seventh defeat in the past eight games. The Hawks even lost All-Star guard Kyle Korver, who lasted 10 minutes before suffering a broken nose at the mercy of Ed Davis’ inadvertent elbow. But with Lakers coach Byron Scott marveling how the Hawks “play without an agenda,” Atlanta (52-14) still punished with the Lakers (17-48) with a heavy dose of Dennis Schroder (24 points), Al Horford (21 points), Shelvin Mack (18 points) and Kent Bazemore (13 points).
As Lakers guard Wayne Ellington called Atlanta “the Spurs of the East,” the Lakers showed how they have regressed since collecting a win five months ago in Atlanta that goes beyond Kobe Bryant’s season-ending shoulder injury and Nick Young’s ongoing absence from a swollen left knee.
The Lakers shot 40 percent of the field and committed 22 turnovers and took them nearly 3 1/2 quarters before Ryan Kelly (13 points) and Jordan Clarkson (10 points) became the lone players to post double-digits in scoring. That left Scott fuming over fundamental concepts, such as ball movement and setting screens.
“We have to do a better job of setting screens for each other,” Scott said. “That’s just being unselfish. That’s the bottom line. You have to be committed to doing that on a night to night basis.” Continue reading →
Portland Trail Blazers’ Steve Blake (25) defends against Los Angeles Lakers’ Nick Young (0) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday Feb. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)
Lakers forward Nick Young will get a CT scan on Monday after experiencing minimal improvement in the swelling in his his left knee.
The procedure will definitely keep him sidelined for both when the Lakers (17-47) host the Atlanta Hawks (51-14) on Sunday at Staples Center as well as when the Lakers play Monday in Golden State. Young had originally planned to travel with the Lakers to receive treatment. But Young will stay in Los Angeles because of his latest appointment.
Young has missed the past nine games because of his latest injury. He has averaged 13.4 points on a career-low 36.6 shooting percent clip, a mark that dipped in January (32.2 percent) and February (32.4 percent).
“Lakers Coach Byron Scott has a word with Lakers#17 Jeremy Lin in the first half. The Lakers played the Houston Rockets in the opening game of the 2014-2015 Season. Los Angeles, CA. 10/28/2014 (Photo by John McCoy Daily News )”
Lakers coach Byron Scott will soon make a move that Jeremy Lin supports.
Scott plans to start Lin at point guard, likely with 10 games left in the season. The timing is not definitive. The Lakers (17-46) will host the Atlanta Hawks (51-14) on Sunday at Staples Center featuring Jordan Clarkson at point guard for the 22nd consecutive start. The Lakers will also feature Wayne Ellington (shooting guard), Wesley Johnson (small forward), Jordan Hill (power forward) and Tarik Black (center), a lineup that has started for the past three contests.
But Scott plans to start Ryan Kelly at power forward at some point and Lin at point guard, the latter scenario seeming more definitive on the timing.
“I want to see how much of a difference it is now as opposed to the start of the season,” Scott said after Sunday’s morning shootaround at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “He knows the offense better and he knows what I need from him every single night on both ends of the floor. Now to see him in a starting role, it would be a little bit of a change. He was thinking so much back earlier in the season. Right now, he’s just playing.”
Lin started the first 19 games of the season only to lose his starting spot in favor of veteran guard Ronnie Price because of Scott’s preference for his defense and floor leadership. Lin averaged 11.6 points on 44.9 percent shooting and five assists in 29.6 minutes per contest as 23 games as a starter. In 40 games off the bench, Lin averaged similar numbers with a 10.6 points per game average on 42.6 percent shooting and 4.6 assists despite less playing time (23.6 minutes per game).
Lin cited his adjustments in playing Scott’s Princeton-based offense and sharing ball-handling duties with Kobe Bryant. But Scott downplayed if Bryant’s absence because of a season-long right shoulder injury will make it easier for Lin to play as a starter.
“His role won’t change,” Scott said. “It will be the same. I want to keep it as simple as possible. But anytime you don’t have Kobe on the floor, it will be different. You can play without the ball a whole lot more since he draws so much more attention, he draws easier shots. When he’s not on the floor, it makes it tougher.”
“You have to move the ball better and set better screens and all the things we’ve been talking about,” Scott said. “We don’t want him to be a ball stopper. I just want guys to still continue to move on the offensive end so we can get the best possible shots.”
Clarkson has excelled as a starter, averaging 14 points on 44.5 percent shooting and 4.1 assists in 30.2 minutes. The Lakers also appear invested in developing Clarkson, whom the Lakers hold as a team option for the 2015-16 season. That juxtaposes with Lin, who will become an unrestricted free agent after making $14.9 million this past season.
Yet, Scott argued featuring Clarkson off the bench will also provide insight on how he plays in a different role.
“I’d just like to see JC come off the bench,” Scott said, “and see what he provides.”