Lakers’ Ryan Kelly to play Tuesday vs. Phoenix

Lakers forward Ryan Kelly will play tonight against the Phoenix Suns after staying sidelined for the past month with overlapping injuries to his left and right hamstrings.

“I feel good. I’ll give it a go,” Kelly said following Tuesday’s morning shootaround at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “Conditioning wise, I don’t know. We’ll find out I guess. Health wise I feel great. I’m ready to roll.”

Kelly participated in Tuesday’s shootaround and practiced for an hour of Monday’s practice that consisted of three-man weave and conditioning drills as well as games of three-on-three, four-on-four and five-on-five. Kelly sat out of the Lakers’ scrimmage that was open to the media toward the tail end of Monday’s practice.

This has marked a frustrating start for Kelly, who opened training camp with a strained left hamstring. He then injured his right hamstring during a morning shootaround drill two weeks ago.

Kelly’s return would likely enhance the team’s three-point shooting, which currently ranks 16th out of 30 NBA teams with a 31.6 percent clip. Kelly averaged eight points on 33.8 percent shooting his rookie season with the Lakers, his floor spacing as a so-called stretch forward proving a good fit under former coach Mike D’Antoni.

Against the Suns last week, the Lakers went only 4-of-13 from three-point range, while the Suns shot 16-of-32 from shots beyond the arc.

“He brings a different element as far as the fact that he can stretch the floor,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “We’ll have to wait and see. I’m anxious to see him play. I know how smart he is. He’ll be in the right places at the right time. That’s the one thing I like about it. He has picked the offense up pretty fast for somebody who hasn’t been able to do the offense a lot.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott wants more from Carlos Boozer on defense

"Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) drives to the hoop against Los Angeles Lakers' Carlos Boozer (5) in the first quarter of their game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) "

“Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) drives to the hoop against Los Angeles Lakers’ Carlos Boozer (5) in the first quarter of their game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) “

The Lakers represented a new beginning for Carlos Boozer where he believed he could reestablish his All-Star credentials. But as the Lakers opened the 2014-15 season losing their first four consecutive games for the first time in 57 years, Boozer has become the poster child for the Lakers’ league-worst defense.

“He knows he can play better and I expect him to play better,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said Monday at the Lakers’ practice in El Segundo. “To me, it starts on the defensive end. He has to do a better job against pick and roll defense and has to do a better job on guys who are trying to post him off the dribble.”
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Lakers’ Ryan Kelly could play Tuesday vs. Phoenix

Amid their worst start in 57 years, the Lakers finally received a rare dose of good news.

Lakers forward Ryan Kelly could play Tuesday against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center after staying sidelined since training camp with overlapping injuries to his left and right hamstrings. Kelly practiced for about an hour on Monday, which he said consisted of three-man weave and running drills as well as games of three-on-three, four-on-four and five-on-five. Kelly did not play during the Lakers’ scrimmage that was open to the media that was open toward the tail end of Monday’s practice.

“I had to get the wind back a little bit and it’ll take some time,” Kelly said. “I’ll see how it feels tomorrow and go from there.”

The Lakers could use all the help they can get after opening the 2014-15 season with a league-worst four consecutive losses, including to the Suns (2-1).

Kelly’s return would likely enhance the team’s three-point shooting, which currently ranks 16th out of 30 NBA teams with a 31.6 percent clip. Kelly averaged eight points on 33.8 percent shooting his rookie season with the Lakers, his floor spacing as a so-called stretch forward proving a good fit under former coach Mike D’Antoni.

“I think that’s something I can do in spreading the floor,” Kelly said. “I can be helpful there. I’m unique in that way.”

Kelly stayed sidelined for mostly all of the Lakers’ training camp after injuring his left hamstring on the first practice. Two weeks ago, Kelly then injured his right hamstring in morning shootaround just when he believed he would return the lineup.

Lakers coach Byron Scott said Kelly “looked okay,” noting that he missed out on the team’s full contact scrimmage that was open to the media.

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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’ defensive issues main contributor to 0-4 start

"Golden State Warriors' Andrew Bogut (12) dunks the ball against Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (24) and Jordan Hill (27) in the first quarter of their game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) "

“Golden State Warriors’ Andrew Bogut (12) dunks the ball against Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (24) and Jordan Hill (27) in the first quarter of their game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 1, 20142. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) “

OAKLAND — The tidal waves loomed on the horizon, providing plenty of forewarning that it would soon crash furiously along the shores.

The Lakers may have anticipated it. They may have tried to run for cover to escape the fury. And they may have even offered some resistance. But then the inevitable happened.

The Golden State Warriors sent the Lakers crashing in their intra-coastal rivalry, a 127-104 defeat on Saturday here at Oracle Arena throwing figurative sand in their face as they tried to swim upstream. The so-called “Splash Brothers” in Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry soaked the Lakers with a combined 72 points. When the Warriors were not sinking 11 three-pointers on 23 attempts, they were punishing the Lakers inside with 62 points in the paint. The Warriors also wiped the Lakers out at a furious pace with 35-fast break points.

Once it all ended, the Lakers opened the season with a 0-4 record for the first time since 1957, a terrible historical footnote explained by numerous factors. They range from countless injuries, a brutal opening schedule and a new roster. But amid that backdrop stands one looming reason. The Lakers have made little progress in excelling on defense, an area coach Byron Scott had tabbed as his top priority ever since taking over the reigns this summer.

“Defensively, we’ve just got to get tougher and we’ve got to get a little bit more grittier,” Scott said. “Sometimes we lose focus after we score and all of a sudden we relax. You can’t relax, especially against a team like this that can score at will.”

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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant throws down reverse dunk over Clippers’ Matt Barnes

Rarely has Kobe Bryant ever doubted himself about anything.

He knew he would ascend from a high school phenom to an NBA star. Bryant immediately envisioned winning multiple NBA championships. Only a season removed from treating two major injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left knee, Bryant believed his superior post moves would enable him to stay among the NBA’s elite.

But even Bryant surprised himself, beating Clippers forward Matt Barnes on a baseline drive and finishing with a reverse dunk.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” Bryant said following the Lakers’ 118-101 loss Friday to the Clippers in a designated home game at Staples Center. “I shocked the [heck] out of myself.”

Incidentally, not everything went according to script. Bryant’s 21 points came on 6-of-15 shooting, including a 1-of-7 fourth-quarter clip that entailed missing a potential game-tying three-pointer. Yet, Bryant’s throwdown dunk marked another step in the 36-year-old’s season-long quest to shed off rust after playing only six games last season.

“I am old. I feel strong though,” Bryant said. “I felt like myself. I didn’t know that was there. It was there.”

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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 encouraged despite 118-111 loss to Clippers

"The Lakers' Jeremy Lin by Kobe Bryant after sinking a shot in the fourth quarter. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/Los Angeles Daily News)"

“The Lakers’ Jeremy Lin by Kobe Bryant after sinking a shot in the fourth quarter. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/Los Angeles Daily News)”

On a franchise that defines itself on wins and losses, the Lakers’ mood did not match the current circumstances.

The Lakers’ 118-111 loss on Friday to the Clippers in a designated home game at Staples Center marked the third time they conceded more than 100 points. The game ended with Kobe Bryant missing a potentially game-tying three-pointer. The last time the Lakers opened the season with a three-game losing streak happened two years ago. The franchise soon fired Mike Brown two games later.

Then, the Lakers faced championship or bust expectations. The Lakers may still talk publicly about that goal, but injuries, a competitive Western Conference and a mostly new roster all make that a lofty expectation. But given that backdrop, everyone on the Lakers left away from a loss against their hometown rival feeling encouraged.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with this loss actually,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. “We figured a lot of things out.”
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Byron Scott scoffs at Lakers-Clippers rivalry

"Lakers Coach Byron Scott. 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. 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 )”

Once he became the Lakers’ coach, one of of Byron Scott’s first order of business entailed immediately speaking out on an issue that has loomed this city in recent years.

“I don’t think L.A. has gone to the Clippers yet anyway,” Scott said. “This is still a Laker town. Period.”

Yes, the Lakers may enter tonight’s designated home game against the Clippers at Staples Center with an 0-2 record and season-ending injuries to Julius Randle and Steve Nash. The Lakers also lost three of their last four meetings last season with the Clippers by an average of 35.67 points per game.

But that doesn’t suddenly erase the equity built with the Lakers winning 16 NBA championships to the Clippers’ zero.

“When they get about 13 banners,” Scott said, “then it’ll be a rivalry.”
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Jeremy Lin communicating more with Kobe Bryant about roles

"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)”

The Lakers have a long season to see how the dynamic between Kobe Bryant and Jeremy Lin work, let alone whether they can climb out of the Western Conference cellar.

But it appears Lin and Bryant have made some inroads on figuring out their chemistry. Following the Lakers’ double-digit loss on Wednesday to Phoenix, both coach Byron Scott and Bryant implored for Lin to improve his aggressiveness after seeing him go score only a combined 13 points in two games. Bryant also said Lin should not be afraid to run the offense even if Bryant calls for the ball.

It appears that has opened up dialogue between Bryant and Lin as the Lakers (0-2) enter tonight’s contest against the Clippers in a designated home game at Staples Center.

“I have to get comfortable,” Lin said. “The biggest thing is the communication. There are some things I need to do better for sure and run the team better. There are some ways the team can help me and create a system or structure to have that opportunity to do what I do best. We’re in communication with that.”

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Kobe Bryant raises concerns about 3-point shooting disparity

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) looks at the scoreboard during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Phoenix. The Suns won 119-99. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) looks at the scoreboard during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Phoenix. The Suns won 119-99. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Kobe Bryant maintained an aura of calmness as he sat by his locker stall, insisting the Lakers’ 0-2 record and his on-court frustration hardly meant he would already lose his cool this early in the season.

But a troubling trend has emerged through the Lakers’ two losses that Bryant called “a big problem.” While Houston and Phoenix have combined to make 28 of 61 from three-point range, the Lakers have gone only 7-of-23 from shots beyond the arc. So how do the Lakers address that?

“Guarding the 3 point shot and shooting more and making more ourselves,” Bryant said.”That’s tough math to overcome when they knock down 16 threes and we knock 4. That’s tough to overcome.”

The Lakers won’t have an easy time solving that issue quickly. The Lakers play against the Clippers tonight in a designated home game at Staples Center, an opponent that features sharp shooting from Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick. The Lakers then travel on Saturday to Golden State, which features Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson firing away at ease.

It’s hardly surprising Bryant would highlight such an obvious reason for the Lakers’ struggles. But it is notable for another reason. After once calling Mike D’Antoni an “offensive genius” shortly after the Lakers hired him two years ago, Bryant made it clear last year that he did not like NBA teams playing so-called “small ball.” Instead, Bryant said he preferred playing “smash mouth old school basketball.”

Last season, the Lakers finished third in three-point shooting (38.1 percent) on 24.7 attempts per game. But that hardly stopped the Lakers from avoiding their worst record in L.A. franchise history. Meanwhile, Lakers coach Byron Scott has he doesn’t “believe it wins you championships” by putting a heavy emphasis on three-point shooting. Yet, seven of the past eight NBA title teams led the league in both 3-point shots made and attempted.

“We don’t have an abundant amount of 3-point shooters we can throw out there,” said Scott, referring to injuries to Nick Young (thumb) and Ryan Kelly (rigth hamstring). “So we can’t play tit for tat.”

So what can the Lakers do? Bryant suggested a balance.

“I really think the 3 point shot is a big thing,” Bryant said. “It’s a brand of basketball being played. Teams really take the 3. They take the 3 and we take the two or free throws. We’re not a big 3 point shooting team. So we can’t afford to give up 16.”

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Kobe Bryant plays well, but Lakers fall to 0-2 with loss to Phoenix

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, Byron Scott push for Jeremy Lin to play more aggressive

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PHOENIX — The possibility of having a clean slate invigorated Jeremy Lin.

No more worries remained about living up to “Linsanity” that sparked during a breakout season in New York. No more uncertainty lingered about his fluctuating role during two frustrating years in Houston. But only two games into an already trying Lakers’ season, Lin has encountered a new challenge.

How to play with Kobe Bryant.

“He’s used having to look over his shoulder all the time and playing with players who like controlling the ball a lot,” said Bryant, an obvious reference to New York’s Carmelo Anthony and Houston’s James Harden. “I told him that’s a big urban legend of me. I want to score. That means coming off of picks, catching and shooting. You handle the ball and you run the show.”
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