Chick Hearn’s widow, Marge Hearn, passed away on Saturday night

Marge Hearn, the widow of former Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn, died on Saturday night at age 98 of what the Lakers described as natural causes.

“We are very sad at the passing of our beloved Marge Hearn,” Lakers president Jeanie Buss said in a statement. “We consider ourselves blessed and fortunate, however, to have had her be a part of the Lakers family for six decades. She was truly the First Lady of the Lakers, sitting alongside her husband, the Voice of the Lakers, Chick Hearn.”

Chick Hearn spent 42 years broadcasting for the Lakers, which entailed calling 3,338 consecutive Lakers games from Nov. 21, 1965-Dec. 16, 2002. The streak stopped after Chick Hearn underwent heart surgery. Chick and Marge Hearn were married from 1938-2002 until Chick passed away.

Marge Hearn attended the Lakers’ unveiling of Chick’s statue outside of Staples Center on April 21, 2010. Then, Marge kissed her hand and touched Chick’s bronze lips.

Marge Hearn is survived by their grandaughter (Shannon Hearn) and great-granddaughter (Kayla Hearn-Newman).

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Lakers’ Byron Scott to have “open competition” between Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr.

Lakers forward Julius Randle likely will compete for the starting forward spot for the rest of the 2015-16 season. (photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)

Lakers forward Julius Randle likely will compete for the starting forward spot for the rest of the 2015-16 season. (photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)

For at least one game, Julius Randle will not have to worry about his role and his minutes will entail.

Randle will start for the eight consecutive game when the Lakers (9-40) host the Charlotte Hornets (22-25) on Sunday at Staples Center with forward Larry Nance Jr. staying sidelined with recurring soreness in his right knee. But after that, it’s anybody’s guess. Presuming Nance Jr. returns soon, Lakers coach Byron Scott plans to have Randle and Nance Jr. fight for the starting spot.

“Absolutely,” Scott said. “I want it to be open competition. I think guys should feed off of that.”

But here’s the challenge: both Randle and Nance Jr. have seemed more well fed when both start. In the past seven games he has started, Randle has posted four double doubles and shot 51.4 percent from the field in just under 30 minutes per contest. Throughout the season, Randle has fared better as a starter than as a reserve in points (12.1, 9.5), field-goal percentage (43.8%, 37.2%), rebounds (7.9, 7.0) and minutes played (28.7, 24.5). The same thing applies to Nance Jr. in his starting and bench roles in points (7.3, 3.9), field-goal percentage (55.6%, 50.8%), rebounds (6.0, 3.6) and minutes played (23.1, 16.8).

Yet, Scott said he hopes that Randle earns the starting spot because of the big-picture implications.

“I want him to go against some of the best players in this league. That’s mostly starters. It is a priority,” Scott said. “Right now with Julius, because of Larry getting injured, he got that position back. But when Larry’s healthy, he’ll get it back.”

Why?

“I don’t know if he’s better as a starter,” Scott said of Nance Jr. “But I think obviously we’ve played better at the beginning when he started. That’s why I made the change because our starts were terrible in the first quarter. I thought a guy like Larry that brings energy and doesn’t demand the ball would be a better fit.”

Scott has generally liked Randle’s recent play, calling his 23-point and 14-rebound performance in Friday’s loss against the Clippers “one of his best games overall.”

“I loved how aggressive he was and how well he played,” Scott said. “I hope he can keep progressing like he has and keep hitting that mid-range shot. He obviously has gotten a lot more consistent with it. I think he feels more comfortable taking them.”

But Scott then argued Randle has “still has a ton of room of improvement” after committing six turnovers and not taking enough advantage of his size on defensive switches.

“Some of it is trying to go too fast and some of it is trying to go through two defenders,” Scott said. “Sometimes you just have to say, ‘I can’t beat them right now. Let me bring it back out.'”

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Lakers’ Byron Scott envisions Kobe Bryant’s shoulder issues to be “ongoing” for rest of season

akers’ Kobe Bryant during recent NBA game against the Bulls on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

akers’ Kobe Bryant during recent NBA game against the Bulls on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

The evolving pattern regarding Kobe Bryant’s tenuous health made it obvious. The three season-ending injuries Bryant has suffered in consecutive seasons may have given it away, too.

But with Bryant still listed as questionable for when the Lakers (9-40) host the Charlotte Hornets (22-25) on Sunday at Staples Center because of continued soreness in his right shoulder, Lakers coach Byron Scott sensed those issues are “going to be ongoing for the next 2 1/2 months.” In other words, Bryant’s playing status will likely stay uncertain for all of the Lakers’ remaining 33 regular-season games before Bryant retires from a 20-year NBA career.

“Some days his shoulder is going to be feeling great and some days it’s going to be sore,” Scott said after morning shootaround at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “At his age and all the games that he played, I’m sure there are mornings he wakes up and he’s just sore with the way he slept.”

Scott wasn’t exaggerating. Although he has missed games last week against Dallas and the Clippers, Bryant said he has not experienced any recent issues with his previously sore right Achilles. But before sitting out against Dallas, Bryant reported he sometimes feels “aches” when he sleeps. Sometimes the pain worsens when Bryant wakes up.

Even with two decades removed from his 14-year NBA career, Scott recalled the same thing often happens to him.

“I wake up some mornings and there’s a whole lot of [stuff] hurting,” Scott said, laughing. “I didn’t do anything.”

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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant to sit out against Clippers

The Bulls’ Taj Gibson drives to the hoop between the Lakers’ Kobe Bryan, left, and Julius Randle on Thursday night. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

The Bulls’ Taj Gibson drives to the hoop between the Lakers’ Kobe Bryan, left, and Julius Randle on Thursday night. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

The Lakers will have to weather another game without Kobe Bryant, who will sit out when the Lakers (9-39) visit the Clippers (30-16) on Friday at a designated road game at Staples Center.

Lakers coach Byron Scott initially stressed Bryant has nothing to do with the soreness in his right shoulder and right Achilles he has nursed in recent weeks.

“His shoulder feels pretty good,” Scott said following morning shootaround on Friday. “It’s just the back-to-back right now. We want to rest it and get ready for this next long stand of road games we have coming up in February before All-Star break.”

But the Lakers have since clarified and said Bryant’s sitting out because of his sore right shoulder.

The Lakers have home games on against Charlotte (Sunday) and Minnesota (Tuesday) before starting a four-game, eight-day trip that includes stops in New Orleans (Thursday), San Antonio (Saturday), Indiana (Feb. 8) and Cleveland (Feb. 10). NBA All-Star weekend then takes place from Feb. 12-14 in Toronto where Bryant plans to play in his 18th and final All-Star appearance as a starter.

Does this mean Scott will plan to rest Bryant on the Lakers’ six remaining sets of back-to-back games?

“Not all the time, but I anticipate it will be more often now, Scott said. “The season is getting a bit longer in the tooth. It’s on that countdown. The more we play back-to-back games, the more chances that he sits out on those second night or first night.”

Scott insisted he has not decided who will start in Bryant’s place. With Lou Williams (upper respiratory infection) remaining a game-time decision, Scott floated various starting possibilities, including any combination involving D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Brown, Metta World Peace and Nick Young.

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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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Pau Gasol expresses gratitude for Kobe Bryant’s support

Lakers' Kobe Bryant high fives ex teammate Pau Gasol during game at Staples Center in 2013. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant high fives ex teammate Pau Gasol during game at Staples Center in 2013. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The affectionate smile formed on Pau Gasol’s face as he thought about what awaited him.

In what will mark the first time since squaring off in the 2012 Olympics, Gasol will greet Kobe Bryant as an opponent when the Lakers (9-38) host the Chicago Bulls (25-19) on Thursday at Staples Center. After spending 6 1/2 years with the Lakers from 2008 to 2014, Gasol signed with Chicago as a free agent. But Gasol and Bryant did not play against each other because of Bryant’s various injuries.

“It’ll be fun and I look forward to it. I’d love to see him on the floor,” Gasol said following morning shootaround at UCLA. “It’ll be a fun game and a special game for me for many reasons.”

There are many reasons. He still has waxed nostalgia about his 6 1/2 seasons with the Lakers that included three consecutive NBA Finals appearances and two NBA championships. Gasol plans to visit Dr. David Skaggs at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles before Sunday’s game against the Clippers. Gasol also called Los Angeles “one of the best cities in the world.”

But one of the main reasons included Bryant, who argued this week that Gasol did not become fully appreciated amid diminished roles under former Lakers coaches Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni as well as never-ending trade speculation. The Lakers had sent Gasol to Houston on Dec. 2011 as part of the Chris Paul deal, but the NBA halted the trade.

“Some people appreciate you more. Some people don’t. Not everyone is going to appreciate you the same way,” Gasol said. “That’s something you have to live with and that’s what happens to all of us. But there were a lot of people that appreciated me and Kobe was definitely one of them.”

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Lakers to unveil Shaquille O’Neal’s statue during 2016-17 season

The news caught Shaquille O’Neal by surprise.

“Seriously?” O’Neal said with a hint of both excitement and disbelief.

The news sounded good to O’Neal’s ears. But he sounded initially reluctant toward listening.

“You’re playing,” O’Neal said.

But late-night television host Jimmy Kimmel pleaded for O’Neal to hear him out.

“Seriously, I swear to God,” Kimmel said. “This is not a prank.”

Kimmel had just revealed to O’Neal on Wednesday night that the Lakers will unveil a statue of him outside of Staples Center. Kimmel showed an artist rendering that shows O’Neal offering one of his powerful dunks. Kimmel reported the Lakers told him to deliver the news. The Lakers then confirmed this will happen at some point during the 2016-17 season.

“We look forward to having Shaq join the other legends who have been honored with statues at STAPLES Center,” Lakers president Jeanie Buss in a statement. “He is a giant not only in size, but also in stature and in what he accomplished as a Laker. Shaq literally broke the ground for the site, and was hugely responsible for not only getting STAPLES Center built, but for making it one of the most successful and famous arenas in the world. It’s an honor that is well deserved.”
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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant believes Pau Gasol was not fully appreciated in LA

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant did not believe Pau Gasol was fully appreciated here. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant did not believe Pau Gasol was fully appreciated here. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

A flood of emotions could hit Kobe Bryant soon. This time, the sentiments will prove much deeper than soaking in one of his last remaining games in his 20th and final NBA season.

When the Lakers (9-38) host the Chicago Bulls (25-19) on Thursday at Staples Center, Bryant and Pau Gasol will square off against each other for the time since he left the Lakers nearly two years ago.

That sparked Bryant to express gratitude over Gasol helping him win two NBA championship and make three NBA Finals appearances during his 6½ seasons with the Lakers after the franchise acquired him in February of 2008 in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies.Bryant called Gasol a “fantastic player” and “one of the best post players of all time.” But Bryant also argued “the city of LA didn’t really appreciate” Gasol’s contributions partly because of reduced roles under Mike Brown (2011-12) and Mike D’Antoni (2012-14) and being connected to endless trade talk.

“Everybody kind of fell in line with the Mike D’Antoni rhetoric of small ball and all this other [expletive],” Bryant said. “For a guy that has two championships to be treated that way, you don’t do that, man.”

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Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson make Rising Stars Challenge

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott  talks with Laker Jordan Clarkson,6, and D'Angelo Russell ,1, against Portland, during the second half at the Staples Center.  Los Angeles Calif., Sunday, November,22, 2015.         (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott talks with Laker Jordan Clarkson,6, and D’Angelo Russell ,1, against Portland, during the second half at the Staples Center. Los Angeles Calif., Sunday, November,22, 2015.
(Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Amid a season full of losses and fluctuating roles, Lakers rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell and second-year guard Jordan Clarkson will soon experience something to celebrate.

Both will participate in the Rising Stars Challenge on Feb 12 in Toronto as part of NBA All-Star weekend, a game that will feature 10 American rookie and sophomore players competing against 10 foreign rookies and sophomore players.

Russell and Clarkson reacted in similar ways.

Russell jokingly asked if he has to go before gushing about the stage.

“Some people will be competitive and some people won’t be,” Russell said. “I know I’m going to be competitive and try to win.”

Clarkson called his appearance “cool,” “awesome” and “humbling” before stressing he is “not here for the awards.”

“I have the ability to be an All-Star caliber player one day,” Clarkson said. “I’m definitely working toward that.”

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Lakers’ Larry Nance Jr. willingly gives up seat to Kobe Bryant

It did not take look for Kobe Bryant to exert his presence. This time, it did not involve Bryant shooting a shot or calling out a teammate. With Bryant sidelined during the Lakers’ 92-90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday at Staples Center, the Lakers’ 37-year-old star made a rare appearance on the bench.

That prompted Bryant to motion to rookie forward Larry Nance Jr. to get out of his seat so Bryant could squeeze in at the end of the bench toward the end of the first quarter.

“I heard the huge cheer with Kobe coming onto the court. I was just minding my own business and watching the game. All of a sudden, I hear, ‘Nance, Nance! Get up!'” Nance Jr. recalled with amusement. “I looked at the coaches like, ‘I’m going in?’ No. [Kobe said], ‘I need my seat.'”

Nance Jr. happily obliged even though it required him to sit on the floor.

“It’s not like, ‘Oh no, I’m a man, you can’t have my seat,'” Nance Jr. said. “It’s out of respect. You earned that. Come on now. If there’s anybody now that deserves and earns to be able to do that, it would be him.”

Still, Nance Jr. could have defended himself, arguing he needed the added comfort both to stay ready for the game and to give room for his previously sore right knee to stretch out comfortably.

“I don’t think that would’ve worked,” Nance Jr. said, laughing.

Nance Jr. admitted he may have responded differently had another teammate requested a seat. He joked he would have given Nick Young “a hard time,” before admitted he’d “probably do it” since he’s a nine-year NBA veteran.

But Nance Jr. sounded more amused than upset at the situation. In fact, he sounded more upset about officials taking issue with Nance Jr’s new seating arrangement.

“They made me get off the floor too,” Nance Jr. said. “Apparently its a league wide rule. Nobody wanted me.”


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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’ Byron Scott benched D’Angelo Russell late in loss to Dallas for trying to take over

Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell #1 drives to the hoop against Dallas Mavericks center JaVale McGee #11. The Los Angeles Lakers played the Dallas Mavericks in a regular season NBA game played at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. 1/26/2016, Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group

Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell #1 drives to the hoop against Dallas Mavericks center JaVale McGee #11. The Los Angeles Lakers played the Dallas Mavericks in a regular season NBA game played at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. 1/26/2016, Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group

Well before it became clear how his role would evolve through a trying season, D’Angelo Russell offered one quality that became universally promising. Russell believed the quality propelled his game to unforeseen heights. Lakers coach Byron Scott noticed the quality helped Russell distinguish himself on tape and in pre-draft workouts.

The Lakers fell in love with Russell’s confidence, aware that a 19-year-old kid with such self-assuredness would help him push through the NBA pressure cooker. But nearly haflway into the season, that has become a source of contention.

Scott benched Russell for the final 2:31 of the Lakers’ 92-90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday at Staples Center. The Lakers head believed his 19-year-old rookie point guard “was really trying to take over the game.”

“That’s not him yet. I wanted the ball to move a little bit,” Scott said. “I thought it stuck with him. He tried to make the big shot and things like that. I understand that. But to me, that’s not him right now.”

Russell does not think that’s who he is, either.

He posted only 12 points on a 4-of-12 clip and zero assists in 25 minutes off the bench. He missed a 3-pointer with the Lakers tied 88-88 with 2:54 left. With Russell commanding the offense, the Lakers made one field-goal in a nearly four-minute stretch that entailed Russell driving to the basket and converting on a layup. But Russell argued those numbers had more to do with reacting to the defense than playing hero ball. He also supported his teammates from the bench, including greeting them during ensuing timeouts.

“I was taking what they were giving me,” Russell said. “It was a small split window of taking a shot or passing it up with a shot clock violation on the line. It was always was in my hand sand I had to take the shot. I missed it. But I don’t know if he would’ve said that if I missed those shots. So you live with it.”
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