Lakers’ Steve Nash experiences back spasms

Lakers guard Steve Nash experienced back spasms after carrying luggage (Danny Moloshok/The Associated Press file photo)

Lakers guard Steve Nash experienced back spasms after carrying luggage (Danny Moloshok/The Associated Press file photo)

The Lakers have barely played any games yet, but they already are witnessing Steve Nash suffer more injuries. Lakers coach Byron Scott said Nash experienced additional back spasms after carrying bags. After Nash missed his third consecutive practice on Wednesday, Scott ruled Nash out of Thursday’s exhibition against the Utah Jazz in Anaheim.

Lakers guard Jeremy Lin completed shooting and conditioning drills on Wednesday, but said he will sit out of Thursday’s game as well because of a sprained left ankle that has limited him in the past week. That likely thrusts NBA veteran guard Ronnie Price into the Lakers’ starting lineup on Thursday versus Utah.

But about Nash’s future? He played only the first quarter of the Lakers’ preseason loss on Sunday against Golden State after asking out of the game. On Monday, Nash reported having a “sciatica problem,” which is related to nerve issues causing discomfort in his lower back. But he generally downplayed his injuries, which kept him out last season for all but 15 games. The 40-year-old Nash has one season left on his contract worth $9.8 million.

“It’s a concern,” Scott said. “I have to figure out if he will play every day or not or play every other game. How many games can he play and which games can he play. In the next couple of weeks, we have some time to come to a conclusion how we will handle this situation.”

The Lakers somewhat anticipated Nash experiencing injury issues. They acquired Lin in a trade from Houston, drafted guard Jordan Clarkson and acquired Price in hopes the Lakers would have more point guard depth. But has Nash’s latest development already forced Scott to operate without him?

“I haven’t gotten there yet,” Scott said. “In a couple of weeks, if the situation is the same, that’s the way I have to go.”

Scott said after Tuesdays’ practice that Nash’s recent absences have prompted him to consider featuring him as a reserve. It seems likely Scott would then start Lin, who has averaged 11.9 points and 4.8 assists through four NBA seasons. This situation has become less awkward since Nash and Lin have publicly said they are fine with any role.

“You don’t want to feel you’re stepping on anyone’s toes,” Lin said. “But he’s a professional. I try my best to be as well. At the end of the day, we both understand and have been around long enough that helps a season much more enjoyable.”

Part of that affection also stems from Nash’s credentials (two NBA MVPs, third overall on the league’s all-time assists list), work ethic and positive attitude.

“He’s always in the training room,” Lin said. “It sucks to watch it, and it’s tougher to go through it. He’s positive. Through it, he’s still a good influence and person to be around. He’s not moping around. He’s trying to help out anyway he can. Obviously we’re all hoping for the best with him.”

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Lakers, Steve Nash both cautious and optimistic about health


Lakers’ Kobe Bryant wants players to fight for market value


Steve Nash’s health leaves Byron Scott pondering bench role

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 surprised about NBA’s 44-minute preseason game

"Los Angeles Lakers vs Golden State Warriors during a game on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Ca. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)"

“Los Angeles Lakers vs Golden State Warriors during a game on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Ca. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)”

The NBA may have found a solution for the Lakers both to reduce their double-digit losses and shorten playing time for Kobe Bryant.

The league will have the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics exhibition game on Sunday last 44 minutes with quicker timeouts, an experiment the NBA wants to assess the flow of a shorter game

“I’m kind of old school and used to 48 minutes,” Bryant said. “At this stage, I won’t complain if it’s less.”
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Kobe Bryant urges NBA players to fight for market value

"Kobe Bryant, right, of the Los Angeles Lakers, maintains possession as Klay Thompson, of the Golden State Warriors, defends during a game on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Ca. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)"

“Kobe Bryant, right, of the Los Angeles Lakers, maintains possession as Klay Thompson, of the Golden State Warriors, defends during a game on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Ca. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)”

Kobe Bryant went on the offensive. But it had nothing to do with going on a scoring binge. It had everything to do with challenging NBA players both to fight for their market value and expose the hypocrisy surrounding NBA owners.

“We are overpaid,” Bryant said Tuesday, shortly less than a year after signing with the Lakers to a two-year, $48.5 million extension. “But at the same time, so are the owners, and you have to fight for what your market value is.”

Bryant shared his frustration on Twitter last week shortly after the NBA announced a record-breaking nine-year television contract with ESPN and Turner Broadcasting worth a reported $24 billion, an amount the Lakers’ star saying is “almost being a billion dollars up over the previous one.” Bryant wrote on Twitter that “players are ‘encouraged’ per new CBA to take less to win or risk being called selfish+ungrateful.”

How so?

“You’re supposed to do what’s right. Business is business. I think people get that confused very easily and understanding that players should take less than their market value, substantially less than their market value in order to win championships,” Bryant said. “It’s very easy to look at the elite players around the league and look at the amount of money they get paid and compare that with the average. But we don’t look at what the owners get paid, how much revenue they generate off the backs of these players.”
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Steve Nash’s health leaves Byron Scott pondering bench role

File photo: Los Angeles Lakers' Steve Nash, right, passes off the ball as Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Pauldefends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. (Danny Moloshok/The Associated Press file photo)

File photo: Los Angeles Lakers’ Steve Nash, right, passes off the ball as Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Pauldefends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. (Danny Moloshok/The Associated Press file photo)

For every passing moment that Steve Nash experiences issues with his health, the more and more likely the Lakers coach Byron Scott will consider diminishing his role.

Nash missed his second consecutive practice on Tuesday after playing only the first quarter of the Lakers’ preseason loss on Sunday to Golden State before asking to sit. Nash did not speak to reporters on Tuesday. But he said on Monday experienced a “sciatica problem,” which refers to discomfort in the lower back. With Nash playing only 15 games last season amid persisting nerve irrititation in his back and hamstrings, will Lakers coach Byron Scott start either Jeremy Lin or Ronnie Price instead?

“I don’t know. That is something I’m definitely thinking about it,” Scott said on Tuesday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “Is it in our best interest to start Jeremy or Ronnie or do we wait day by day, game by game? We’ll play these last five preseason games out. We’ll figure it out from there.”
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Ed Davis looking forward to a “fresh start” with Lakers

All the focus surrounding the Lakers centers on Kobe Bryant’s return. Or on Steve Nash’s health. Or on Byron Scott’s arrival as the Lakers’ head coach. Or on Julius Randle’s development as the Lakers’ prized rookie.

But the Lakers’ success or failure also hinges on how much they can revamp a defense that spent last season allowing teams to score instead of stopping them. So with two weeks into training camp, which Laker has emerged as the defender most capable of bolstering the team’s identity?

“Ed Davis. He’s the guy who has done the best job protecting the rim for us,” Scott said following Monday’s practice at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. “He’s also our best roller and screen setter.”

Perhaps you never heard of Davis. So here’s an introduction. He signed a two-year, $2 million deal this offseason with the Lakers, including a player option for his second season. The 25-year-old Davis averaged about five points and four rebounds in 15 minutes through two seasons with Memphis, a drop off when he netted a career-high 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in 24.5 minutes in his third season in Toronto. As Bleacher Report recently noted, Davis has represented one of seven players to average at least 13 points on 53 percent shooting, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per 36 minutes.

In other words, Davis joins the Lakers riddled with both intriguing possibilities and question marks.

“This is more of a fresh start. Everything that happened before is behind me,” Davis said. “It’s about getting an opportunity and being in the right situation. I’ll do whatever I can to help a team win and provide energy off the bench.”
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Luke Walton learned “never to doubt Kobe Bryant”

"Los Angeles Lakers vs Golden State Warriors during a game on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Ca. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)"

“Los Angeles Lakers vs Golden State Warriors during a game on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Ca. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)”

It took very little time before Luke Walton began sharing lessons he learned under Phil Jackson.

Walton has used his platform as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors emulating some of the passing and floor spacing drills he once ran when he played for Jackson for eight seasons with the Lakers.

But there’s perhaps an even more valuable lesson he can pass down to the Warriors players.

“I learned a long time ago never to doubt Kobe Bryant,” Walton told this newspaper. “I was right not to doubt him now.”
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Lakers sit Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin in Monday’s practice

"Kobe Bryant, right, of the Los Angeles Lakers, maintains possession as Klay Thompson, of the Golden State Warriors, defends during a game on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Ca. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)"

“Kobe Bryant, right, of the Los Angeles Lakers, maintains possession as Klay Thompson, of the Golden State Warriors, defends during a game on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Ca. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)”

Well before practice even started, Lakers coach Byron Scott told Kobe Bryant to go home.

“Why” Bryant asked, but he likely already knew the answer. After praising Scott’s demanding practices that put a high emphasis on conditioning drills, Bryant suggested following the Lakers’ 116-75 preseason loss on Sunday to Golden State in Ontario that the team would benefit if the practices tapered off. Bryant largely cited the Lakers’ “heavy legs” as an explanation for shooting 30 of 82 from the field after having a 90 minute practice earlier on Sunday.

Well, Scott’s practice on Monday was unexpectedly shortened. Bryant, Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin rested, while the team’s practice did not involve any full-court scrimmaging.

“I have to be smarter about pushing them that much harder,” Scott said. “I pushed them pretty hard thus far. Now it’s time to take the reigns off a little bit. Let them get their legs back and then go from there.”
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How long will it take for Lakers to thrive on defense?

"Los Angeles Lakers vs Golden State Warriors during a game on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Ca. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)"

“Los Angeles Lakers vs Golden State Warriors during a game on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Ca. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)”

ONTARIO — Something chilling has emerged for the Lakers. It goes beyond the flurry of injuries they have already experienced during training camp. Or the cool temperatures the Lakers must have felt during their preseason game on Sunday against the Golden State Warriors at Citizens Business Bank Arena, which also hosts minor league hockey games.

For a team that has put heavy emphasis in training camp on bolstering its defense, the Lakers haven’t seen immediate returns on their investment. The Lakers’ 116-75 preseason loss on Sunday to the Golden State Warriors illustrated just that. The Warriors opened with a 20-4 lead. Golden State converted on two four-point plays. After making three consecutive three-pointers, Stephen Curry threw an easy lob to Harrison Barnes.

This happened a mere four days after the Lakers hosted the Warriors at Staples Center, where Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 45 points.

So much for the Lakers spending most of Saturday’s film session critiquing their defensive pick-and-roll coverages.

“There were a lot of guys we were going at in our session, mostly our bigs because they did a poor job of recovering,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said before the game. “Our pick and roll coverage was mostly soft. That’s not how we want to play. I’m eager to see how they respond.”
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Kobe Bryant suggests Kevin Durant can improve “mental aspect” of game during injury

In this file photo, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) talks during a foul shot in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, March 5, 2013. Oklahoma City won 122-105. (Sue Ogrocki/The Associated Press)

In this file photo, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) talks during a foul shot in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, March 5, 2013. Oklahoma City won 122-105. (Sue Ogrocki/The Associated Press)

ONTARIO – Their star player went down for a significant chunk of time, adding serious doubts toward whether the team can still stay afloat amid a competitive Western Conference.

That appropriately described Kobe Bryant when he tore his left Achilles on April 13, 2013, an injury that sidelined him for eight months and shattered the Lakers’ slim championship hopes. The same thing just happened to Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, who is expected to stay out for two months because of a fracture in his right foot.

Bryant and Durant have always had mutual admiration for one another. So much that Durant shared in an interview with this newspaper last season that the two frequently talk on the phone during ungodly hours. Then, the conversations usually center on Bryant sharing wisdom to Durant.

“It’s tough. He’s gotta be patient.and do what you can in the interim and study the game and try to improve the mental aspect of it,” Bryant said. “That’s what I already tried to do when I was out and come back a better player.”

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Ronnie Price on shoe incident: “I thought that would stop the play”

ONTARIO — The Lakers will seemingly go through a never-ending process. They will watch film of their previous game. Lakers coach Byron Scott will highlight all the defensive miscues that range from pick-and-roll coverage, transition defense and closing out on the perimeter. The Lakers will discuss the issues, and hope that improved effort and understanding will fix this issue.

But as the Lakers demonstrated in their 116-75 preseason loss Sunday to the Golden State Warriors at Citizens Business Bank Arena, they appear light years away from ever reaching that ideal. Things turned so badly that even Lakers veteran guard Ronnie Price drew a technical foul for throwing his shoe at Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala.

Price may have said facetiously he was “just trying to get it out of bounds.” But he then became pretty honest on why he would throw his shoe after it slipped off during an unsuccessful drive to the basket.

“I was just trying to stop the ball as fast as possible,” Price said. “The shoe was in my hand so I thought that would stop the play.”

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