Rockets coach JB Bickerstaff says Dwight Howard not disgruntled

Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard/Photo courtesy of Houston Rockets

 

Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard on Wednesday told the Houston Chronicle that the rumor going around that he is unhappy at Houston and that he expects to be traded to Miami is completely false.

“I haven’t said anything to anybody about anything,” said Howard, whose Rockets took on the Lakers on Thursday at Staples Center. “People make up lies and rumors.”

Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff was asked before Thursday’s game if Howard is disgruntled. Bickerstaff did not take long to reply.

“I don’t think he’s disgruntled,” Bickerstaff said. “I haven’t had any problems. Everything we’ve asked him to do, he’s done. He’s worked his tail off, he’s shown up to work with a smile on his face every day, so I wouldn’t say that he’s disgruntled.”

 

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Byron Scott kind of figured the Warriors would lose to Bucks

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott had little to smile about. The Los Angeles Lakers played the Denver Nuggets in a regular season NBA game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. 11/3/2015 (photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)

Byron Scott/Staff photo by John McCoy

 

Although some may have been, coach Byron Scott was not among those who might have been shocked that Golden State’s 28-game winning streak – 24 to start this season – was snapped Saturday by the Milwaukee Bucks, who entered that 108-95 victory over the Warriors with a record of 9-15.

Scott, whose team will play host to Milwaukee on Tuesday night at Staples Center, on Monday after practice listed several reasons why he expected the Bucks to win that game.

“I thought it was a great trap game,” Scott said. “They went double overtime in Boston (on Friday), which was an emotional win, probably, as well. Then they’ve gotta fly and they’re going to get in late to Milwaukee and you’ve gotta play the next night. So I thought if any team was going to beat them, it was going to be that game. And Milwaukee, obviously, came out and did a great job. But Golden State, they were probably sitting in the locker room after the game, saying, “Let’s win 28 more.’ “

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Byron Scott marvels at Kobe Bryant’s work in the 2nd leg of back-to-backs

Kobe Bryant, C.J. Miles, Paul George

Kobe Bryant/Photo by Associated Press

 

Kobe Bryant has played both ends of four back-to-backs this season. The first time he had a worse second game. But the opposite has been the case the past three times.

  • Bryant scored 20 points on 7 of 26 from the field in a Dec. 1 loss at Philadelphia in 32 minutes. The next night he scored 31 points on 10 of 24 shooting in win at Washington in 36 minutes.
  • He had five points and shot 2 of 15 in a Dec. 6 loss in 26 minutes at Detroit. He came back the next night and scored 21 points on 8 of 16 shooting in a loss at Toronto. He also had eight rebounds, four assists and two steals in 32 minutes.
  • Bryant scored 12 points on on 5 of 12 shooting with six rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes in a loss at San Antonio on Friday. He scored 25 points on 9 of 16 from the field, pulled down seven rebounds, doled out six assists and made three steals in 31 minutes in a loss Saturday at Houston.

Coach Byron Scott was asked how Bryan, who is 37 and in his 20th season, could continually be better in the second half of a back-to-back.

“I don’t know how he does it,” Scott said Monday after practice. “I know somebody asked him about it and he doesn’t know how he’s doing it. But I always kind of just chalk it up to, that’s Kobe. He comes ready to play every night and I think the second night, though, he seems to have a better rhythm. He has a couple of days off or something like that and then you had that one game on Wednesday and play again Thursday, he gets into a little bit more of a rhythm and a flow. For whatever reason, the second night seems to be better, where you would think it would be the opposite.”

 

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Jordan Clarkson didn’t want to be “looking like a shot deer”

Justise Winslow, Jordan Clarkson

Jordan Clarkson dives for a ball during a Nov. 10 loss at Miami/Photo by Associated Press

 

Jordan Clarkson has missed the past two games with a sprained right ankle. He went through a full practice Monday and he expects to be back out there Tuesday when the Lakers (3-21) host the Milwaukee Bucks (10-15) at Staples Center.

It wasn’t easy for Clarkson to sit out two games. He admitted as much after practice.

“It’s definitely hard because you want to be out there, but you can’t go out there looking like a shot deer,” he said. “So trying to go out there and put a healthy product on the floor.”

Clarkson is from San Antonio, so missing Friday’s game at San Antonio was really tough.

“I did try to go, but it wasn’t flying,” Clarkson said. “(Trainer) Gary (Vitti) wouldn’t let me do that.”

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Byron Scott has nothing but praise for Chris Paul and the Clippers

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

The Lakers (20-55) have their hands full with virtually every team in the NBA. They’ll be extra full Sunday when they square off with their hallway-neighbor Clippers (50-26) at 6:30 p.m. at Staples Center. Coach Byron Scott knows it, too.

Chris Paul is probably the best leader in this league and he’s probably the most competitive guy I’ve ever been around,” said Scott, who coached Paul at New Orleans. “He’s going to bring an attitude. And then, to go along with that, Blake (Griffin) and DeAndre (Jordan) and J.J. (Redick) is great as well. So right now they’re just playing great basketball.The challenge for us is to keep them out of the paint, keep them out as much as possible. Of course, when they shoot jump-shots, they’re contested. The biggest challenge after that is rebounding the ball.”

Paul is averaging 19.2 points, a league-high 10.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals.

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Wayne Ellington sheds positive light on just-concluded road trip

Wayne Ellington

Wayne Ellington/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Lakers, NBA.com

 

Guard Wayne Ellington on Monday at practice was asked if he took anything positive out of the Lakers’ just-concluded four-game Grammy road trip, in which the Lakers lost all four games. They did, however, take Milwaukee and Orlando into overtime. A positive sort, Ellington answered in the affirmative

“Yeah, there were a few postitives, definitely, we took out of the trip, especially in those overtime games,” Ellington said. “Unfortunately, obviously we didn’t pull them out. But at the same time, young group, we’re still learning. We took some positives away.”

Moments before Ellington spoke to reporters, coach Byron Scott mentioned Ellington as someone who has proven himself on the court. That appeared to be music to Ellington’s ears.

“I just feel like I’m taking every game like it’s an experience, an opportunity that I’m thankful for and trying to make the most of it,” Ellington said. “Trying to leave it all out there on the floor, man. With that, I’ve had some success.”

Ellington has raised his season scoring average to 9.0 after averaging 11.8 points in January and 12.0 so far in February. He is shooting just 35.7 percent in the four games this month, but he shot 45.8 percent from the field in January.

Ellington, 27, also plays very hard and seems to bring a lot of energy to the team.

 

 

 

 

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Byron Scott: What did Jordan Hill have to eat before going off on Chicago Bulls on Thursday?

Jordan Hill

Jordan Hill/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Lakers, NBA.com

 

Jordan Hill had a season-high 26 points along with 12 rebounds in the Lakers’ thrilling 123-118 double-overtime victory over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, which marked Pau Gasol’s return to face his former team at Staples Center. Hill shot 11 off 22 from the field and also had three assists, two blocks and a steal. Coach Byron Scott would love to see more of that from Hill, who averages just 12.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 0.9 blocks on the season.
“I told somebody I’ve gotta find out actually what he had for lunch or for breakfast or dinner the night before, find out how we’ve gotta keep him playing that way, you know, with that type of energy,” Scott said.

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Former Lakers big man Pau Gasol doesn’t miss media scrutiny in L.A.

Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol/Photo courtesy of Chicago Bulls, NBA.com

 

Pau Gasol of the Chicago Bulls on Thursday morning talked about his emotional return to Los Angeles to face the Lakers on Thursday night at Staples Center. He spoke of the memories he’ll realize once he steps onto the floor and all sorts of warm and fuzzy things.

He doesn’t miss the media scrutiny of Los Angeles, however. He made no bones about that.

“Obviously, when things were going well here, it was exceptional,” said Gasol, who spent seven seasons with the Lakers and helped them win NBA titles in 2009 and 2010. “They say L.A. and New york are two of the top cities, the best cities to win at. But they’re probably two of the tougher cities to lose and struggle because you get so much coverage that media have to create stories. And sometimes the bad or negative stories are more attractive and so I felt like there was always searching for something bad or negative to talk about. Some drama that was created whether it was some truth to it or not.

“It was just a matter of talking about things when things were not going well, so Chicago so far has been great, very positive. Even when we had that six game skid where we lost six out of eight, people were still positive , media was still positive.”

The Bulls (30-17) lost six of eight from Jan. 7 to Jan. 19. They are in fourth in the Eastern Conference standings.

Gasol, a 7-foot post, is averaging 18.3 points and a career-high 11.9 rebounds and is averaging 15.4 rebounds over his past five games.

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Byron Scott talks starting lineup moving forward and Jeremy Lin’s DNP on Friday in San Antonio

Jordan Clarkson

Jordan Clarkson is slated to get his second consecutive start Sunday night against visiting Houston/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Lakers, NBA.com

 

The Lakers on Sunday night are slated to start Jordan Clarkson, Wayne Ellington, Robert Sacre, Ryan Kelly and Jordan Hill against the Houston Rockets. It’s the same unit that started Friday in a loss at San Antonio and coach Byron Scott said that will remain the same for some time.
“The starting unit will stay this way for probably the next 15, 20 games,” Scott said at the morning shootaround, “but the roles on the bench will probably change. And it’s just depending. That could go game-by-game. I’m not set in stone with that, but the starting unit I am, like I said, for the next 15 games or so.
“But the bench, that can change game-by-game. I’m not real concerned about the bench. I’m seeing if our starters can get some sort of flow going. And then the energy from the guys off the bench. So if I’m getting certain guys playing well off the bench, I’ll stick with it. If not, I’ll change it.”
On Friday at San Antonio, Jeremy Lin did not figure into the equation at all. He did not play and next to his name in the box score was a fat DNP. Scott was asked if he had spoken to Lin about it.
“We haven’t had a conversation about it,” Scott said about 11:30 a.m. “We’re going to talk about it today a little bit, just to tell him what I expect, you know, in this role. And like I said, this role isn’t permanent. I didn’t play him last game because I wanted to stick to a 10-man rotation. Tonight, it might change. I don’t know. But right now, the guys that are coming off the bench, their roles are not permanent.”

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Byron Scott stoked about Jordan Clarkson having just one turnover Friday in first start at San Antonio

Jordan Clarkson, right, of the Lakers guards Tony Parker of the Spurs on Friday in San Antonio/Photo by Associated Press

 

Jordan Clarkson got his first start Friday here in his rookie season with the Lakers. The point guard scored 11 points on 5 of 9 shooting with three rebounds, four assists and just one turnover in 29 minutes of the Lakers’ 99-85 loss at San Antonio.

The one turnover surprised coach Byron Scott.

“I didn’t see that coming,” Scott said. “When I threw him in there I said, ‘Man, I’m kind of throwing him in the fire, but let’s find out what he can do.’ And again, going against the Spurs and going against an All-Star in Tony Parker for your first start; being at home, I think that helped him as well, being able to play in front of his family and friends. But the first thing I told him was, ‘Enjoy the game, but have the poise … and slow down.’ And he did all those things.”

Clarkson played his high-school ball at Wagner High in San Antonio.

 

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