Kobe Bryant ranked NBA’s third best shooting guard in GM poll

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, left, gestures to count a basket as forward Wesley Johnson, center, and forward Julius Randle react as referees nullify it during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Los Angeles. The Lakers on 98-91. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, left, gestures to count a basket as forward Wesley Johnson, center, and forward Julius Randle react as referees nullify it during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Los Angeles. The Lakers on 98-91. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Kobe Bryant might not believe ESPN are the only idiots in town. The Lakers’ star might feel that way about the NBA’s general managers, too.

The latest NBA.com general manager survey lists Bryant as the league’s third best shooting guard behind Houston’s James Harden (63%) and Golden State’s Klay Thompson (18.5%).

Bryant took offense last year when he was ranked second behind Harden, claiming the league’s general managers simply believed Bryant would “play on one leg.” But that turned out to be generous. Bryant only played six games last season amid overlapping injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left knee.
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Will Jeremy Lin close out games for the Lakers?

The clock is winding down. The game is on the line. And because of those two variables, every single play magnifies.

Kobe Bryant lives for those moments, cementing his 19-year NBA career that feature far too many clutch performances and game winners to count. But so does Jeremy Lin, who has admitted he cares more about finishing games than starting them.

“You just love it,” Lin said. “As a kid you always think about hitting that shot at the buzzer or making that one game-winning play. When the game is on the line, you have a chance to do that.”

The Lakers’ 114-108 preseason loss on Tuesday to the Phoenix Suns may have featured Lin’s first game back since nursing a left sprained ankle that kept him out for the previous three exhibition games. But Lin could not have provided a better audition tape on stating his case for finishing games after finishing with 15 points on 3 of 5 shooting and five assists in 23 minutes off the bench.

Most of Lin’s production happened in the fourth quarter, where he posted 11 points and two assists by driving aggressively through traffic and organizing the offense. He scored seven consecutive points for the Lakers at one point that included a 27-foot three-pointer, a finger roll and a pair of free throws. And he played all but 11 seconds in the final period before fouling out.

Lin provided the 8,037 fans at Honda Center plenty to cheer about beyond Bryant’s late-game scoring. Meanwhile, Steve Nash’s back remaining tenuous, while nine-year veteran Ronnie Price started for the fourth consecutive game. So will Lin close out games in the future?

“This was more of a chance seeing him play 20 something minutes and for Ronnie to get some rest,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “We’ll see how both those guys feel tomorrow.”
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Kobe Bryant closes out well in Lakers’ loss to Phoenix

The crowd stood up on their feet, narrowing their focus on anything Kobe Bryant would do. So did Phoenix forward P.J. Tucker, who locked in on every move Bryant made. But as many can attest during Bryant’s 18-year NBA career, it’s one thing to anticipate and know what the Lakers’ star will do next. It’s an entirely different story on actually doing something to stop it.

So with nearly two minutes left in the game, Bryant fulfilled that job description yet again. Bryant cut from the left elbow to the wing and sank a 17-foot jumper. Nearly a minute later, Bryant posted up along the baseline before nailing a 20-foot turnaround. The same thing happened on within a 30-second span.

Three straight fallaway jumpers. Three straight buckets for Kobe Bean Bryant. Three huge signs that Bryant’s continuously shedding rust stemmed from his nearly year-long absence from two major injuries.

“When it’s money time, I just go to the bread and the butter,” Bryant said, “that’s always there.”
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Kobe Bryant shrugs off ESPN report criticizing role in franchise’s struggles

os Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott, right, talks to Kobe Bryant during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

os Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott, right, talks to Kobe Bryant during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

All week, Kobe Bryant spent part of his time calling ESPN “idiots” for recently ranking him the 40th best player in the NBA. So when ESPN The Magazine published a story citing unnamed sources that suggested Bryant’s dominating personality served as the primary reason for both the Lakers’ recent demise and ability to attract top-level free agents, one could only imagine what sort of adjectives Bryant would throw.

It turns out not many. Instead, Bryant unleashed his inner Zen by expressing a pretty indifferent and pragmatic view.

“It’s not the first one and it won’t be the last one,” Bryant said following the Lakers’ 114-108 preseason loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday at Honda Center. “One thing I’ve come to understand over the years is you’ll have a bad story that comes out on a Monday and it seems like the end of the world. It seems like everybody is taking shots at you. Time goes by and when you look back on it, and it’s just a Monday. Then you have another great story that comes out a month later. Its’ a fantastic story. Then there’s a bad story that comes out a month after that.”
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Lakers’ Jeremy Lin to return as a reserve

ANAHEIM — Any hope that Jeremy Lin becomes the Lakers’ starting point guard remains on hold.

Lin will come off the bench when the Lakers host the Phoenix Suns tonight at Honda Center after missing the past week because of a sprained left ankle. Lakers veteran guard Ronnie Price will start for the fourth consecutive game, while Steve Nash remains sidelined with back spasms.

“There’s not a thought process right now,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “Ronnie has been playing and Jeremy hasn’t. He’ll have to come in and get his feet wet and then go from there.”

Price has sparked rave reviews during training camp for various reasons. The nine-year NBA veteran has averaged 8.5 points and 4.8 assists in 31 minutes per game with steady playmaking and aggressive defense.

“He goes after people,” Scott said. “He’s one of those guys that plays with a ton of energy and a lot of heart. He’s a tough kid. I love the way he started out the games.”


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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’ Jeremy Lin poses as adidas employee

A crowd follows Jeremy Lin where he goes. The Lakers guard has attracted extensive media attention from both local and international media. When he attended a recent event at Westfield Culver City Mall, hordes of fanas flooded the Foot Locker shoe store. Lin prefers to keep his residency in West Los Angeles private so that he can enjoy his free time with close friends and relatives.

So how can Lin avoid a mob scene? Well, he can dress up like someone else, such as his recent parody video in which he poses as an adidas employee. Lin asked customers about their shoe or shirt preferences. He would pepper him with questions about the NBA. Lin even made disparaging comments about his play.

But no one paid much attention until Lin took off his wig. Then, the fanfare emerged again.


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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 waive Keith Appling, Jeremy Tyler

The Lakers made their first round of cuts to their training camp roster, announcing on Monday that they have waived both rookie guard Keith Appling and center Jeremy Tyler.

Appling posted two points, three rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes of play through two preseason appearances. But he then suffered a shoulder injury in the Lakers’ preseason loss last Thursday to Utah in Anaheim.

Numerous outlets, including this one, already reported about Tyler’s departure which coincides with him signing a deal to play overseas in China. Tyler averaged 2.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in 9.4 minutes through three preseason appearances. His three-year NBA career included stops with Golden State (2011-12), Atlanta (2012-13) and New York (2013-14).

The Lakers currently have 17 players on their roster. They can hold a maximum of 15 players once the regular season starts on Oct. 28 against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center.

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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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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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