ONTARIO — The ball fell into Julius Randle’s hands, leaving open a wide range of possibilities that makes the Lakers captivated about his development.
On one play, Randle sprinted up the court, dribbled behind his back and set up Kobe Bryant for an open jumper. On another play, Randle muscled his way inside, grabbed a rebound and converted on the putback layup. On another play, Randle showed off his range by immediately taking an open jumper. On another play, Randle demonstrated his strength by bulldozing his way into the post and making a left-handed hook shot.
“He can rebound, push the ball, score pass,” Lakers guard/forward Kobe Bryant said. “He can do everything.”
Yes, Randle seemingly did everything in the Lakers’ 105-97 preseason loss to Toronto on Thursday at Citizens Business Bank Arena. He posted 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting in what marked his second consecutive double-digit scoring effort. He grabbed five rebounds. He dished off five assists. All of which led Lakers coach Byron Scott to say, “I’m very happy with the way he’s playing.”
But Randle wants more. Much more.
“I’m just going to stay hungry,” Randle said. “There’s so much more I can do out there. So many gimmes and stuff I can get better at.” Continue reading →
Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry, right, moves to shoot as the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, left, and Roy Hibbert defend during a game on Thursday at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario (Photo by Micah Escamilla/Staff)
ONTARIO — Something annoyed Kobe Bryant, and no he did not fret that much about the Lakers’ 105-97 preseason loss to the Toronto Raptors on Thursday at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
It involved something else that has emerged around this time of year for three consecutive seasons. ESPN released its pre-season player rankings that pitted Bryant as the league’s 93rd best player.
“Please don’t ask me about silly stuff like that,” Bryant said.
Still, Bryant expressed amusement over several of the 8,123 Lakers fans in attendance who had criticized ESPN’s player evaluations. A few chanted out to Bryant during the game, “You ain’t no 93!”
“I heard a couple of those,” Bryant said, smiling. “I don’t need to defend that. Nobody does.” Continue reading →
The Lakers have ruled veteran forward Brandon Bass out for Thursday’s game against Toronto in Ontario after results from an MRI and CT scan show he has a bruise in his left knee.
The Lakers will evaluate his progress daily, making it currently uncertain if he will practice on Friday at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. Bass injured his knee in the Lakers’ preseason overtime loss to Utah on Tuesday in Honolulu. But Bass stood up on his own accord and did not leave the game. He finished with 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting, three rebounds, two steals and two turnovers off the bench. The Lakers signed Bass, a 10-year NBA veteran, to a two-year deal this past offseason.
Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell also had an injury in Tuesday’s loss to Utah, suffering a bruised glute after taking a fall early in the first quarter. Russell missed the rest of the game as well as Wednesday’s practice. But his status is not yet clear for Thursday’s game against Toronto.
In an image that he once displayed in countless Lakers playoff and regular season games, Metta World Peace wasted no time in his preseason debut on Tuesday against Utah addressing questions about his durability and effectiveness. The former Ron Artest swiped the ball out of his opponent’s hands. He pursued the ball by diving over the Lakers’ bench. And World Peace instantly caught the attention of one certain teammate whose presence has significantly influenced his mindset on successfully returning to the NBA.
“Very impressed,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. “It felt like old times of he and I getting after it.”
One of those times included World Peace playing a major part in the Lakers’ Game 7 victory over the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals during his four-year tenure wearing purple and gold (2009-2013). But after the Lakers waived him in 2013 through the amnesty clause to save up to $30 million in combined salary and luxury taxes, more doubts emerged about World Peace.
Despite posting numbers in the 2012-13 campaign that marked his highest scoring output with the Lakers (12.8 points on 40.5 percent shooting), World Peace looked limited after tearing his meniscus in his left knee late in the season. He faced limited playing time the following season in New York before both sides negotiated a buyout. World Peace then spent the last year dabbling in overseas gigs in China and Italy.
The Lakers gave World Peace a chance by signing him to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal worth $1.5 million to their 2015 training camp roster, a situation he said would not have happened if not for Bryant’s influence.
“Kobe is the main reason why I worked so hard in the last couple of years,” World Peace said after posting seven points on 2-of-5 shooting, four rebounds, four turnovers and two assists in 21 minutes in the Lakers’ 117-114 overtime loss to Utah on Tuesday at Stan Sheriff Center. “I always wanted to come back and play with Kobe. I remember playing with Kobe, the sacrifices he made, playing hard, making unbelievable shots and showing unbelievable fundamentals. People can say he’s selfish all they want. But in the game, he’s so fundamentally sound. That’s tough to be fundamentally sound under all that pressure.” Continue reading →
Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell suffered a bruised glute in the team’s preseason loss to Utah on Tuesday at Stan Sheriff Center. Photo by Brad Graverson/LANG/06/29/15
HONOLULU — One player took a nasty fall and left the game before expressing optimism the injury would heal quickly. Another player also took a nasty fall and stayed in the game before insisting afterwards he felt fine.
But Lakers rookie guard D’Angelo Russell and veteran forward Brandon Bass sat out of Wednesday’s practice in the team’s final practice here before flying back to Los Angeles.
The Lakers reported that Russell “showed signs of improvement” in a bruised glute that kept out of the majority of the Lakers’ 117-114 overtime loss to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday at Stan Sheriff Center. But the Lakers still held Russell out of practice and will determine his status for Thursday’s game against Toronto in Ontario shortly prior to tip time.
With x-rays turning out inconclusive on his left knee that were taken on Wednesday morning, Bass will have exams with team doctors in Los Angeles on Thursday for further tests. They will likely include an MRI and CT scan.
Kobe Bryant on talking to his young Lakers teammates: “There’s a generational gap, but the universal language is the game. These guys are thirsty for knowledge.” MARCO GARCIA — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
HONOLULU — It took only 13 seconds into his second NBA game since injuring his right shoulder nine months ago. Bryant cut up to the right elbow. He caught a pass. He quickly released a shot.
Less than two minutes later, the sound became audible again. Bryant marched up the court on a fast break. He received another pass. Bryant squared from behind the perimeter. He launched another shot.
The night may have ended with a Lakers’ 117-114 overtime loss to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday at Stan Sheriff Center. But it also ended with Bryant played efficiently all over with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, three assists, two turnovers and one steal in 20 minutes. In other words, it marked a much better showing than when Bryant scored five points on a 1-of-5 clip in 12 minutes in the Lakers’ preseason opening loss on Sunday to Utah.
“I’m past the recovery phase,” Bryant said. “It’s about getting my timing down. I feel like I’m myself.”
HONOLULU — Like he does on nearly every possession, Lakers center Roy Hibbert locked his eyes in on everything he could to ensure another defensive stop. He guarded the painted area. He communicated with Kobe Bryant about defensive rotations. Hibbert scanned the court in case he needed to slide over to help a teammates’ man.
Then, in the corner of his eye, Hibbert saw something that made him sprint into action. Lakers forward Julius Randle just fronted Utah forward Trevor Booker along the right elbow to prevent him from cutting into the lane. Booker immediately pushed him. Then, Hibbert confronted Booker, who immediately swung a punch.
Referees quickly assessed Randle with a foul, Hibbert with a technical and Booker with an ejection with 7:14 left in the third quarter of the Lakers’ eventual 117-114 overtime loss to Utah Jazz on Tuesday at Stan Sheriff Center. Hibbert initially smiled at Booker’s attempted punch, but he hardly showed that expression when he was asked to talk about him afterwards.
“I ain’t worried about him,” Hibbert said of Booker, who also had been contentious with each other in the Lakers’ preseason loss to Utah on Sunday. “I’m not going to speak on that.”
Instead, Hibbert spoke on why he hardly thought twice about confronting Booker despite Randle immediately walking away from the push to prevent the situation from escalating.
“We play together,” said Hibbert, who posted 16 points on 4-of-11 shooting and 11 rebounds in 32 minutes. “He’s the face of this team for the future. “Anybody from the starting five to the guys on the bench, we play as a team and I have everybody’s back.” Continue reading →
HONOLULU — The fall seemed sudden. The fall sounded loud. And the fall appeared painful.
All of which sparked gasps and unpleasant memories of other past injuries as Lakers rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell lay on the floor. Russell just took a hard fall after defending Utah center Rudy Gobert as he drove to the basket.
But well before he could wonder whether this marked a debilitating injury in only his second NBA preseason game, Russell wondered about only one thing.
“I just couldn’t really move,” Russell said following the Lakers’ 117-114 overtime loss to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday at Stan Sheriff Center. “After it kind of loosened it up a little bit, I was able to move a little bit.”
But Russell still lay on the court for about two minutes before getting up slowly. Lakers trainer Gary Vitti and two of Russell’s teammates helped him to the locker room. The Lakers diagnosed Russell with a bruised glute, but believed he could return to the game after exiting with 7:49 left in the first quarter. The Lakers changed their mind and exercised caution considering the regular season has not started yet.
“I feel fine. I wanted to get back out there,” Russell said. “But Gary Vitti and the rest of the staff said they didn’t think it would be a smart idea. I’ll just ice and take care of it the best way possible and try to get out there.”
HONOLULU — Adversity struck Lakers rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell, and the incident did not involve a poor shooting performance or making a mistake.
Russell went to the locker room with 7:42 left in the first quarter of the Lakers’ preseason game against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday at Stan Sheriff Center after suffering a bruised glute. Russell took a hard fall after defending Utah center Rudy Gobert as he drove to the basket. Nothing intentional appeared at play. But the sheer power from the 7-1, 245-pound Gobert sent the 6-5, 195-pound Russell to the ground. The Lakers soon hovered around Russell and helped him to the locker room. He did not play the rest of the game.
The Lakers initially ruled that Russell could return. Though they believe Russell remained healthy enough to play in a regular-season game, the Lakers exercised caution considering it was a preseason game.
HONOLULU — The Lakers have listed Anthony and Jabari Brown as questionable to play in Tuesday’s preseason game against Utah at Stan Sheriff Center after tests came out negative on varying injuries.
Anthony Brown had an MRI, which revealed a right shoulder strain after running into a legal screen during Monday’s practice. Jabari Brown had x-rays that revealed a contusion in his right hand.
The Lakers selected Anthony Brown 34th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft and has a three-year, $2.6 million contract. Jabari Brown has a one-year deal that is non-guaranteed. He had also played on the Lakers at the end of the 2014-15 season after playing for their Development League affiliate, the D-Fender’s.
In the Lakers’ 90-71 preseason loss to Utah on Sunday, Anthony Brown posted three points on 1-of-3 shooting and five fouls in 12 minutes, while Jabari Brown had two points on 1-of-6 shooting in 17 minutes, 25 seconds.