Kobe Bryant believes Lakers will play “smashmouth basketball”

Utah Jazz's Enes Kanter, center left, gets a rebound against Los Angeles Lakers' Jordan Hill as Lakers' Wesley Johnson, left, and Carlos Boozer watch during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Utah Jazz’s Enes Kanter, center left, gets a rebound against Los Angeles Lakers’ Jordan Hill as Lakers’ Wesley Johnson, left, and Carlos Boozer watch during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The NBA championship trophies sitting near the window in Jeanie Buss’ office may greet the Lakers every time they step foot on the practice floor. The celebrity starpower that still watch the Lakers at Staples Center may seem captivating. Even Byron Scott’s presence as the Lakers’ coach may spark up pleasant memories of the “Showtime Era.”

But in the land of Hollywood, the Lakers’ quest toward bouncing back from their worst season in L.A. franchise history will not involve special effects or star power.

“We’re going to be smashmouth basketball,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. “That’s how we’re going to play. We’re going to be nasty. We’re going to be physical.”

The Lakers showed how those elements could work in their 98-91 preseason win on Sunday over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center.

The Lakers have already missed six players out with injuries, including Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin, Nick Young, Xavier Henry and Ryan Kelly. But they compensated by resorting to that identity Bryant described. Sure, it helped that Bryant posted a team-leading 26 points or that Carlos Boozer added 19 points. But those two players added double figures in other preseason games only to see the Lakers lose by double-digit margins. So with the Lakers trailing 54-38 at halftime, Scott offered one clear message.

“When we came out before the half even started, I said, ‘We’re not even going to talk about offense,” Scott recalled. “‘It’s all about us getting more aggressive on the defensive end and just getting better at it.’ That’s what we did.”
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Kobe Bryant increases workload in Lakers’ 98-91 win over Utah

The Lakers’ training room may have become as congested as the freeways here in Los Angeles during rush hour. They may have a roster filled with question marks that include both health and potential. A competitive Western Conference might make the Lakers’ quest to dig themselves out of mediocrity a slogging, uphill climb.

But unlike last season when serious injuries kept him without a basketball in his hands, Kobe Bryant provided his strongest sign that his presence will at least give the Lakers fighting chance. He posted a team-leading 26 points, four rebounds and five assists in 32 minutes of the Lakers’ 98-91 preseason victory on Sunday over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center, marking his most complete game since shedding off rust of his former self through five exhibition games.

“I felt fine,” Bryant said. “I’m still working it back. But I feel ready.”
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Kobe Bryant’s message to Julius Randle: “You ‘F’ this up, you’re a really big idiot”

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)

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 tough love and accountability hovered over Julius Randle throughout his childhood. He grew up in a single-parent household where his mom ensured he studied well enough to maintain straight A’s. Randle played for an AAU team named the Texas Titans that included comprehensive workshops involving media training, etiquette tips and Bible study. And Randle has clung to these mentors both for guidance through adversity and for staying grounded through success.

Yet, that strict upbringing hardly compares to what Kobe Bryant has offered the Lakers’ rookie all through training camp. Both Bryant and Lakers coach Byron Scott talked to Randle, saying he has the potential to become an NBA All-Star one day IF he mimics Bryant’s work ethic. If not? Randle will just become another forgotten NBA player.

“It means he can’t [bleep] it up.” Bryant explained in more vulgar terms following the Lakers’ 98-91 preseason victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday at Staples Center.

Once the initial laughter from reporters around him subdued, Bryant then offered another punchline. This one came at the expense of ESPN recently ranking him as the NBA’s 40th best player after appearing in only six games last season because of overlapping injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left ankle.

“If you [bleep] this up, you’re a really big idiot,” Bryant said. “ESPN are idiots, but you’re really a big idiot if you manage to [bleep] this up.”
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Lakers’ Jeremy Lin out vs. Utah

Any hope for Jeremy Lin eventually to take over the Lakers’ starting point guard position will have to wait. Lin will sit out tonight’s game against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center because of a sprained left ankle that has kept him sidelined for the past week.

Lakers coach Byron Scott said Lin might return from a three-game absence for Tuesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center. But that hinges on one specific variable.

“Just to go full practice up and down,” Scott said. “Going forward and backward is not the problem. It’s more of the planting and cutting and change of directions. We have to see if he can do that. If he can, Tuesday is a possibility.

Scott said Lin did not advanced enough to play in any of the team’s full-court scrimmage during Saturday’s practice. During portions of that practice open to the media, Lin spent his time shooting on a side basket.

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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’ Ryan Kelly out vs. Jazz with right hamstring injury

It has already become this kind of season for the Lakers. As soon as they believe they make progress on having healthy players, another injury happens.

Lakers forward Ryan Kelly will miss tonight’s game against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center after injuring his right hamstring. Kelly had already been sidelined since training camp started with a strained left hamstring.

Scott said he hasn’t talked with Lakers trainer Gary Vitti about Kelly’s timetable, but it seems likely he will not play in any preseason games. The Lakers have three other exhibitions on Tuesday (vs. Phoenix at Staples Center), on Wednesday (vs. Portland in Ontario) and on Friday (vs. Sacramento in Las Vegas).

“He looked good until he hurt his other hamstring,” Scott said. “It’s not as bad as the first one.”

Meanwhile, Scott said Lakers guard Jeremy Lin remains a game-time decision after missing the past two exhibitions with a sprained left ankle. Lin was participating in shooting drills at the conclusion of morning shootaround, but the Lakers want to see how his ankle responds leading leading into the 6:30 p.m. tip time.

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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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Jazz coach Quin Snyder learned plenty coaching Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant may not have worn a Lakers uniform to help the team make shots, but he still drew up plays that led to the same outcome. Bryant may not have stayed on the floor to bark at his teammates, but he still did the same thing on the sideline. Bryant may have technically sat for seven consecutive games because of a shin injury. Yet, his presence remained looming as he became a defacto assistant coach.

But as Bryant instructed from the sidelines, who knew one of those eager pupils was actually a member of the Lakers’ coaching staff? Yet, there was Quin Snyder as one of many assistants under Mike Brown soaking up every word that Bryant had to say from the bench. Much has changed since that 2011-12 season. Snyder currently serves as the Utah Jazz coach, while Bryant plays for Byron Scott. Yet, that moment still stuck with Snyder.

“I went into the experience knowing there was a lot I could learn from him,” Snyder said. “I think players teach coaches as much as anything, if you pay attention to great players, they usually figure stuff out before we do. We notice it and try to teach it.”
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Lakers’ Steve Nash out vs. Utah, hopeful to play in preseason

"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)”

Steve Nash emerged onto the Lakers’ practice court, his presence a rare sight after spending the past week mostly in the trainer’s room dealing with back spasms and the nerve issues that have plagued him for the past two years.

This also marked the first time in a week Nash spoke with reporters, the Lakers’ guard still remaining determined he can overcome an injury that will keep him sidelined Sunday against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center.

“With all the work I’m doing,” Nash said, “I think I can be in a position to bounce back quickly.”

So much that Nash said it’s “important” that he appears in at least one of the Lakers’ remaining preseason games, including Phoenix (Tuesday at Staples Center), Portland (Wednesday in Ontario) and Sacramento (Friday in Las Vegas) before regular season play starts on Oct. 28 against Houston.

“I’d like to play in some more preseason games just to get a rhythm and start the adaptation process,” Nash said on Saturday before the Lakers’ practiced at their facility in El Segundo. “The body is an adaptive system. The more you ask of it, it adapts and can handle it. I’m trying to continually take this condition and ask it to adapt to the rigors of the game.”

But the Lakers are hesitant toward offering any long-term outlook on Nash, whose return to the practice court will depend on how quickly his continuous treatment will heal bis troublesome back.

“I don’t know what the future holds for Steve right now,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “One thing I do know is he wants to play badly.”
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Lakers’ Xavier Henry headed to New York, Germany for knee treatment

A full offseason to recover proved not enough for Lakers forward Xavier Henry to heal from a surgically repaired right knee. So Henry will travel to New York City and Germany for additional treatment, ensuring that will stay sidelined for the Lakers’ four remaining preseason games. The Lakers estimate Henry will return Oct. 24, four days before the Lakers’ season opener against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center.

Henry will see Dr. Keith Pyne in New York City for a second opinion. Henry will then see Dr. Jens Hartmann in Dusseldorf, Germany sometime next week and undergo Regenokine treatment, a non-invasive procedure that Kobe Bryant has undergone numerous times in recent seasons. The treatment will entail blood being removed from Henry’s knee and spun in a centrifuge. Doctors will then create a serum and inject it back into his knee to fight off proteins and molecules that cause inflammation.

Henry has stayed limited throughout all of training camp after having surgeries last April on both his left wrist and right knee, surgeries that sidelined him last season for 29 games. Although his left wrist had fully healed, Henry’s knee had not fully recovered. He also experienced back spasms that kept him out of practice until last week.

The Lakers have missed Henry’s athleticism and driving abilities after averaging 10 points and 2.7 rebounds on that skillset. Henry is one of many injured Lakers players, including Steve Nash (back spasms), Jeremy Lin (sprained left ankle), Nick Young (surgically repaired right thumb), Jordan Clarkson (strained left calf muscle) and Ryan Kelly (strained left hamstring). Lakers coach Byron Scott only anticipates Kelly will return for Sunday’s game against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. Scott believes Clarkson could either return Tuesday against Phoenix in Anaheim or against Portland in Ontario.

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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’ Julius Randle accepts Byron Scott’s criticism

Rookie forward Julius Randle is eager to show the Lakers they made a smart choice by taking him seventh in the NBA Draft in June. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

Rookie forward Julius Randle is eager to show the Lakers they made a smart choice by taking him seventh in the NBA Draft in June. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

The Lakers selected rookie Julius Randle with their seventh overall draft pick, believing he would become a significant piece toward their rebuilding process. But the Lakers never anticipated the impact would happen right away.

Randle instantly gushed about playing for his favorite team (the Lakers) and teaming up with his favorite player (Kobe Bryant). But after starring for one season at the University of Kentucky, Randle hardly expected to receive a starting nod, immediate praise and instant success in the NBA.

So it hardly seems surprising that Randle has encountered some initial struggles. Or that Lakers’ coach Byron Scott has offered some tough love both with Randle’s playing time and public comments about him.

The most vivid example happened in the Lakers’ 119-86 preseason loss on Thursday to the Utah Jazz in Anaheim. Then, Randle posted only four points on 2-5 shooting and one rebound before sitting out in the entire second half.. The Lakers reported Randle had blisters on both of his feet, but Scott said he still sat so he could benefit more from watching the game unfold from the sidelines.

“I still don’t think the last couple of games he could play as hard as he could play,” Scott said of Randle after the game. “It’s a much faster game. He has to learn how to let the game slow down. But the biggest thing is the effort and physical part of it and playing hard every single time he’s out there. I know he’s thinking a lot right now. There’s a lot to think about on both ends of the floor. I know it might take some time, but I expect him to get it.”

After spending the end of Friday’s practice working endlessly on post drills with various Lakers assistants, Randle walked over toward a small group of reporters. A friendly albeit reluctant talker, Randle seemed to anticipate what was coming.

What did he make of Scott’s harsh criticism?

“He should,” Randle said. “Those [veterans] are proven. I shouldn’t be treated the same as those guys. I haven’t done anything. I have to hold myself responsible. I can’t worry about what other guys do. The only thing I can do is hold myself accountable and improve every day.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott believes 3-point shooting “doesn’t win championships”

The Lakers introduced Byron Scott as their new head coach at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, Calif., on July 29, 2014. (File photo /Daily Breeze)

The Lakers introduced Byron Scott as their new head coach at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, Calif., on July 29, 2014. (File photo /Daily Breeze)

A staggering statistic has emerged for the Lakers. It does not just involve the Lakers losing three consecutive exhibition games by double-digit margins. It also goes beyond the Lakers conceding more than 100 points in those contests after spending most of training camp revamping their defense.

The Lakers have also failed to replicate one of their lone strengths from last season’s disaster that ended with the worst record in L.A. franchise history. The Lakers cannot hit three-pointers, entering Sunday’s game against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center averaging a league-worst 20.7 percent from shots beyond the arc. They have gone 1-of-19 from three-point range in the past three games and have gone through an 11 1/2 quarter-drought since making a shot from behind the arc.

The simple explanation partly stems from ongoing injuries to Steve Nash (back spasms), Jeremy Lin (sprained left ankle), Nick Young (right thumb), Ryan Kelly (strained left hamstring), Jordan Clarkson (left calf muscle) and Xavier Henry (back spasms), players that can both attack the basket to open up the floor and can outside shots with dependable accuracy.

“When you have all three of your shooters out, it’s kind of hard,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “It would be nice to have those guys back. But that’s a fantasy now.”

Yet, Scott also believes it’s a fantasy that the Lakers should adopt the league-wide trend that puts a premium on 3-point shooting. While teams last year averaged 21.5 attempts per game, Scott said he hopes the Lakers take anywhere between 12-15 3-point shots once they have a fully healthy roster.

“I don’t believe it wins championships,” Scott said. “It gets you to the playoffs.”

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