Lakers encouraged with how Julius Randle handled scuffle with Tyson Chandler

The jawing continued as Julius Randle and Tyson Chandler ran down the court and established themselves in the post. Once the officials separated the two and reviewed the scuffle, Randle threw his hands up as a sign to encourage the crowd to express themselves. And after the officials looked at the sequence on the television monitors, they issued double technical fouls for each player.

The claps, cheers and jeers began to crescendo. Then the sound peaked after what happened next. Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell inbounded the ball near the top of the key to Randle, setting up a potential play to further antagonize Chandler by going one-on-one.

That left Lakers coach Luke Walton standing near halfcourt, debating to himself on whether he should call a timeout.

Although Walton has preached to Randle to get in “attack mode,” the Lakers’ coach feared that approach would backfire on that specific play. Yet, former Lakers coach Phil Jackson also has become what Walton called “a big influence in the way I try to coach,” including how Jackson had abstained from calling timeouts at critical times in hopes his players would figure it out for themselves.

“Let’s see what happens,” Walton thought to himself. “If it doesn’t work out, it’s a great teaching moment.”

It turns out the decision worked out.

Randle stared at Chandler as if he would charge down the lane at any second. But just as he saw Phoenix guard Devin Booker turn his head toward him, Randle whipped a pass to Jordan Clarkson for an open 3-pointer. Clarkson drained the shot, something that Walton called a “winning play” as part of the Lakers’ 119-108 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday at Staples Center.

“It’s everything we want,” Walton said. “It’s him using his brain, him being competitive and him fighting for the team and making an unselfish play to a teammate who knocks a big-time 3.”

That play did more than just give the Lakers a 107-97 cushion with 1:27 left. It also revealed Randle’s thought process.

“I didn’t get caught up in the emotions of me and him going at it. I just read how they were playing it,” said Randle, who added 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting, five rebounds and four assists. “I’m past being caught up in the emotions I want to win.”
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Lakers’ Larry Nance Jr. admired his dunk against Golden State

The adrenaline flowed seemingly as high as when Larry Nance Jr. leaps and dunks.

The Lakers just secured a 117-97 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday at Staples Center. The Lakers emulated Golden State’s normal mastery of teamwork and sharp shooting far better than the Warriors did at least for one night. And well, Nance defied gravity once again by throwing down a one-handed dunk while palming the back of David West’s head for support.

All of which left Nance soaking in the win by scrolling through Twitter and Instagram posts. That included admiring his own poster.

“That was one of my favorite ones I’ve had,” Nance said, smiling.

There’s plenty that Nance had. He soared past former Golden State center Festus Ezeli. Nance threw down over Detroit center Andre Drummond. Nance boxed out Memphis forward and former NBA dunk contest champion Vince Carter and converted off of a tip-in dunk. In only Nance’s second NBA season, the Lakers’ forward has dunked enough to warrant a Youtube video providing a top-10 rankings of his slams.

Where would Nance rate his latest jam?

“Oh jeez. I don’t know,” Nance said. “I haven’t even thought about it. Hopefully there’s a whole other top 10 after this year. In terms of Golden State, that’s probably No. 2 for me.”

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Lakers give Luke Walton bragging rights with 117-97 victory over Warriors

Lakers Notes: Luke Walton amused by Steve Kerr’s outburst toward officials

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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Luke Walton enjoys trash talking with Warriors

Head Coach Luke Walton at LA Lakers Media Day at their El Segundo training facility. Photos by Brad Graverson/SCNG/The Daily Breeze/09-26-16

Head Coach Luke Walton at LA Lakers Media Day at their El Segundo training facility. Photos by Brad Graverson/SCNG/The Daily Breeze/09-26-16

The laid-back Luke Walton went into cliche mode when the Lakers maintained with a straight face that matching off against his former employer does not mean anything more significant than competing against a non-descript opponent.

“I’ll take any win no matter who we’re playing,” Walton said. “I’ll take the win.”

Fair enough. Walton stressed he remains more worried about the Lakers (2-3) ensuring they maintain good habits when they host the Golden State Warriors (3-1) on Friday at Staples Center.

Still, Walton is also honest and competitive. And so when it comes toward coaching against the Warriors after serving as an assistant for the past two seasons…

“For non important reasons, yes it would be nice to win for when I talk to them on the phone or see them in the offseason,” Walton said. “There’s some trash talking to be done. But as far as what we’re trying to do as a group and a team, whether we win or lose this one is no different than any other game.”

Well, not quite.

“I hope they have success when we’re not playing them,” Walton said of the Warriors. “But tonight, I hope they all have terrible games and that we win.”
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Ivica Zubac’s foul trouble does not sour mood in starting vs. Dwight Howard

ATLANTA — The man standing at centercourt beforehand symbolized the Lakers’ intriguing future.

Rookie center Ivica Zubac embraced for his first NBA regular season start on Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks after center Timofey Mozgov became sidelined with a left eye injury. That gave the Lakers hope their 32nd draft pick out of Croatia would grow with a major opportunity.

The man hanging on the rim beforehand symbolized the Lakers’ frustrating past.

Dwight Howard’s lone season four years ago with the Lakers provided headaches with back surgery limitations, personality clashes with Kobe Bryant, philosophical disagreements with Mike D’Antoni and a reluctance to play pick-and-roll with Steve Nash. Yet with Howard leaving the Lakers via free agency, his defection also marked the first of many star players no longer impressed with the purple and gold glitter.

That set up a delicious storyline between one of the Lakers’ most hated foes and one of their emerging fan favorites. All with the possible hope this could fuel long-term growth.

“Obviously it will be a tough matchup for him,” Lakers coach Luke Walton predicted. “But we have confidence that he can hold his own.”

Walton turned out to be clairvoyant.

In the Lakers’ 123-116 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday at Philips Arena, Howard showed why Walton still considers him “one of the best bigs in our game” by posting 31 points on 12-of-16 shooting and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes. Zubac collected three of his four fouls in the first five minutes and 28 seconds of play. Still, Walton reported feeling “pleased with his effort” after Zubac also posted six points on a 3-of-3 clip and three rebounds in 18 minutes, 32 seconds.

“Dwight can do that to pretty much any big in the league, let alone a rookie that hasn’t seen anything like that before,” Walton said. “But he didn’t look nervous. He looked excited to be out there and he made some good plays.”
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Lakers’ Brandon Ingram listed as probable to play vs. Thunder on Sunday

Lakers' Brandon Ingram watches a free throw during a preseason game against the Kings at Honda Center on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (Photo by Kyusung Gong, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Lakers’ Brandon Ingram watches a free throw during a preseason game against the Kings at Honda Center on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (Photo by Kyusung Gong, Orange County Register/SCNG)

OKLAHOMA CITY — The smile on Brandon Ingram’s face told the whole story. After completing a full-contact scrimmage on Saturday, the Lakers’ rookie forward sat by the scorer’s table chatting with Lakers coach Luke Walton and head athletic trainer Marco Nunez.

Moments later, both Walton and Ingram said he plans to play when the Lakers (1-1) visit the Oklahoma City Thunder (2-0) on Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena so long as he does not experience any setbacks in his sore right knee. The Lakers later diagnosed Ingram with knee tendinitis after an MRI revealed no structural damage, therefore listing him as probable for Sunday’s game.

“As far as my understanding, I’ll come back to shoot around tomorrow and see how I feel after that,” Ingram said. “If I feel good to play, I’ll play.”

Ingram did not feel good to play for most of Friday’s loss in Utah. After asking out of the game early in the first quarter, Ingram received clearance from doctors to reenter the game early in the second. Ingram only lasted a total of four minutes before the Lakers decided to sit him out in the second half.

Yet, Ingram felt good to complete all of Saturday’s practice without feeling any additional soreness. He also provided a positive report on his ability to run up and down the court and make hard cuts.

“If the trainers and doctors tell you he’s fine, you’ll play him,” Walton said. “When he’s out there and limping around, it goes back on me to take him oiut of the game. If he’s cleared, there’sno reason to hold him out.”

The Lakers no longer plan to hold out backup guard Jose Calderon, who will is expected to return for Sunday’s game against the Thunder after missing the previous two contests because of a slight strain in his left calf. Despite participating in Thursday’s practice and Friday’s morning shootaround, the Lakers wanted to keep Calderon out until he completed a full-contact practice.

Walton said he will stay flexible on Calderon’s workload depending on what happens in the game, though he added he won’t play 30 minutes.

“I don’t expect to play a 1,000 minutes,” Calderon joked. “Whatever he needs. We’ve been practicing long and hard. I’m ready for whatever it takes. Whatever he needs, I’ll be ready to do what I need to do out there and help out the team.”

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Lakers’ Luke Walton upset with officiating in 96-89 loss to Utah Jazz

Jazz coach Quin Snyder appreciates Kobe Bryant’s final game despite implications

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’ Luke Walton upset with officiating in 96-89 loss to Utah Jazz

Lakers coach Luke Walton reacts to a call during the second half of his team's 96-89 loss to the Jazz on Friday night in Salt Lake City. AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Lakers coach Luke Walton reacts to a call during the second half of his team’s 96-89 loss to the Jazz on Friday night in Salt Lake City. AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

SALT LAKE CITY — The man in charge has stayed patient as he has explained concepts to a young group that still needs time to fully grasp them. He has displayed his appealing personality by treating everyone as equals, empowering his players with positive reinforcement and offering good-natured teasing.

But for all the approaches Luke Walton’s upbringing and coaching style has mirrored Phil Jackson with his calm approach, Walton has emulated one of his mentors in another way. Walton did not hesitate in offering honest critiquing toward the officiating in the Lakers’ 96-89 loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

First, Walton narrowed in on the Lakers committing 29 fouls that resulted in the Jazz going 28-of-40 from the free-throw line. Walton has decried the Lakers’ high foul volume in training camp, but Walton’s frustration pointed more toward the men in the black and white shirts than his players still learning defensive concepts.

“They shot 40 free throws, which is ridiculous to me,” Walton said. “But that’s kind of what happens when you play here in Utah.”

Walton then questioned why officials retroactively discounted a Jordan Clarkson 3-pointer in the third quarter after a review of the play showed he stepped out of bounds.

“I have to look on the rules on that. That made no sense to me,” Walton said. “If that’s the case, you should just review entire the game all day long. Anytime you miss something, keep coming back and take stuff away. That doesn’t make any sense to me.”
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Lakers’ Brandon Ingram expresses confidence knee injury isn’t serious

Brandon Ingram, 14, at LA Lakers Media Day at their El Segundo training facility. Photos by Brad Graverson/SCNG/The Daily Breeze/09-26-16

Brandon Ingram, 14, at LA Lakers Media Day at their El Segundo training facility. Photos by Brad Graverson/SCNG/The Daily Breeze/09-26-16

SALT LAKE CITY — The ice stayed wrapped around Brandon Ingram’s right knee as he sat by his locker. He had felt enough soreness in his right knee that he sat in the second half of the Lakers’ 96-89 loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday at Vivint Smart Home Arena, initially prompting some concern on if the Lakers’ No. 2 pick would face challenges more serious than typical rookie hiccups.

But then Ingram stood up and offered various tidbits that should ease the Lakers. Doctors told him he does not need to take any medical tests. Ingram plans to practice on Saturday, and he “absolutely” felt confident he could play in Sunday’s game in Oklahoma City.

“It’s nothing too serious,” Ingram said. “It’s just a little tendinitis; nothing serious.”
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NBA experts share intrigue & uncertainty surrounding Lakers’ 2016-17 season

Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton, left, talks with guard D'Angelo Russell during the second half of the team's NBA preseason basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton, left, talks with guard D’Angelo Russell during the second half of the team’s NBA preseason basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

So many interesting storylines and question marks surround the Lakers for the 2016-17 season. Sure, the Lakers (1-0) enter Friday’s game against the Utah Jazz (0-1) at Vivnt Smart Home Arena only two days removed from a commanding win over Houston in the season opener. But as Lakers forward Julius Randle said, “it’s just one game; it’s not the dang Super Bowl.”

So as the Lakers’ journey begins, a few NBA experts chimed in about what makes them both encouraged and uncertain about the Lakers’ future.

What can the Lakers accomplish this season??

Reggie Miller, TNT analyst: “It’s building toward the future. Obviously it was the Kobe Bryant farewell show a season ago. I think a lot of times D’Angelo [Russell], Julius and Jordan [Clarkson] got caught up being spectators. It’s a fresh start. Luke Walton is coming in with a totally new system … “The Lakers need to win. If this young core can continue to get better, that will help with recruiting the free agents of the future to come to LA to try to bring this franchise back to prominence … They’ll take their lumps. I don’t see them anywhere near the Western Confernece playoffs. Btu they’ll be much better at home than they are on the road. That’s how most young teams are.”

Grant Hill, NBA TV/TNT analyst: “The playoffs, I don’t see that as a possibility. Crazy things have and will happen. But I like that young core …You hope they are better and playing with more confidence the last third of the season. It doesn’t necessarily translate into wins. But it’s more about these guys developing and becoming better players and using this year as a chance to get better.”

Kevin McHale, TNT analyst:
“Luke’s biggest challenge is going to be on the defensive end with those guys. I watched the exhibition games. They’re not tied together. But they’re young kids. They don’t understand how to shrink the paint and how to get out and cover for each other … Luke will have some gray hair at the end of this year. I can’t wait to run into Luke and talk to him. He’ll do a great job with that team.”

Anonymous NBA executive:“They’re not going to win a lot of games. They have to be self aware enough that no matter what lineups you put on the floor, they’re not a playoff team. They’re good for 25 to 30 wins … Luke will play a style they’ll enjoy and he’ll relate to the other players well. Luke has the luxury of not having to manage the whole Kobe situation and he can play who he wants to play. It’s a great situation for Luke. No one is expecting much from the Lakers this season so he can get on-the-job training.”


Anonymous NBA assistant coach:
“They’re going to be a better team obviously than last year. But like anything in the NBA, it takes good teams time to gel. I think it’s like cooking a dinner. If you could bake it in 15 minutes or 10 minutes, it won’t be that good of a dinner. That’s why the best meals are on Christmas and Thanksgiving. It takes lots of preparation.”

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Gary Payton puts Lakers’ leadership role on D’Angelo Russell

Hall of Fame guard Gary Payton says D'Angelo Russell needs to the Lakers' leader. Photo courtesy of Dew NBA 3X

Hall of Fame guard Gary Payton says D’Angelo Russell needs to the Lakers’ leader. Photo courtesy of Dew NBA 3X

The brash confidence represented a key part of Gary Payton’s personality. It also partly explained how the Hall of Famer became a defensive specialist, landed nine NBA All-Star appearances and won one NBA championship.

So it hardly sounded surprising to hear Payton’s blunt take on the Lakers heading into Wednesday’s season opener against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center. After rattling off second-year guard D’Angelo Russell, third-year forward Julius Randle and rookie forward Brandon Ingram as the team’s “core,” Payton quickly zeroed in who should become the Lakers’ leader.

“The one that has to do it is D’Angelo,” said Payton, an NBA analyst for Fox Sports 1. “He’s the point guard. He has to step up and get everybody else better. They can if they work hard enough.”

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Lakers’ young core shows off fashion taste in GQ photo shoot

Photo courtesy of GQ

Photo courtesy of GQ

The memory brought smiles to their faces at a time when the Lakers’ young core has plenty of reasons to feel happy.

The Lakers open the 2016-17 season on Wednesday against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center with Kobe Bryant no longer the face of the franchise. Instead, the spotlight will shine on the team’s young players that include second-year guard D’Angelo Russell, rookie forward Brandon Ingram, third-year forward Julius Randle and third-year guard Jordan Clarkson.

So it only seemed natural that all four players also appeared in a GQ photo shoot both to show off their new identity and display their fashion sense. An interesting story came out of that experience.

“It’s funny. I wasn’t even there,” Randle said. “They went the day before me and I had to come the day after. It looks like we’re all together. But we really weren’t. But it was a fun experience.”
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