“Lakers Kobe Bryant drives around Pelicans Tyreke Evans during first half action at Staples Center Sunday, December 7, 2014. ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News ) “
The Lakers have hit an iceberg, their worst start in franchise history, league worst defense and no consistent signs of improvement all have contributed toward sinking at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
But as Kobe Bryant said following the Lakers’ 104-87 loss on Sunday to the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center, “If this was the Titanic, I would go down with the ship. I’m not jumping off.”
Will the Lakers (5-16) follow suit? Will they have enough life boats? Will they avoid fighting over them if the sinking becomes inevitable?
Bryant’s humorous metaphor seemed fitting. Lakers coach Byron Scott made his first lineup change of the season in hopes of injecting new energy, a revamped defense and a more organized offense. So Ronnie Price took Jeremy Lin’s starting role at point guard, while Ed Davis started at power forward over Carlos Boozer. But the move just represented shuffling the deck chairs of the Titanic.
The offensive point guard production still looked awful between Price (three points on 1-of-4 shooting) and Lin (three points on 1-of-5 shooting). Boozer and Davis each had 12 points. And the defense still looked atrocious, with power forward Anthony Davis (23 points on 11-of-15 shooting) and point guard Jrue Holiday (22 points on 9-of-17 shooting) having a field day.
“This is where you find out what your identity will be,” Bryant said. “You find out who’s competitive and who’s going to step up and take the challenge.”
He lost his starting position, and Lakers guard Jeremy Lin voiced his disapproval through words.
“I believe I can be a starting point guard in the league and I want to be,” Lin said following the Lakers’ 104-87 loss on Sunday to the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center. “That’s been a goal of mine for a long time. I’m not going to lie. It was disappointing when I heard about it.”
He lost his starting position, and Lakers forward Carlos Boozer voiced his disapproval through silence. He left the locker room without speaking to reporters, leaving the man who demoted Boozer to speak for him.
“He wasn’t real happy,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “He wasn’t real talkative today.”
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott said there would be changes to his starting lineup following Friday’s 113-96 loss to the Boston Celtics. Lakers next game is Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014, against New Orleans at Staples Center. (File photo/AP Photo)
In hopes of injecting life into an otherwise dour season, Lakers coach Byron Scott will start Ronnie Price at point guard and Ed Davis at power forward for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans (8-10) at Staples Center. This sends Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer to the bench, and marks what Scott called the “first change of a possibility of being many” as the Lakers labor through a 5-15 record in what marks their worst start in franchise history.
“Both of those guys play extremely hard,” Scott said of Price and Davis. “Both of those guys have more of a defensive mentality. It’s probably a better match with the starters that we have.”
The Lakers re-assigned rookie backup point guard Jordan Clarkson to their Development League affiliate, the D-Fenders. Clarkson will appear in Saturday’s game against Reno at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo, which will mark his third appearance in the D-League.
Clarkson is expected to return to the Lakers for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center. But it’s unclear if he will play. Clarkson has averaged 4.8 points on 41 percent shooting in only 11.3 minutes in 11 of the Lakers’ 20 games. With the D-Fenders, Clarkson has averaged 23.5 points, five assists and four rebounds in two games.
Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, Celtics’ Rajon Rondo talk basketball over breakfast
Byron Scott to make lineup changes following Lakers’ 113-96 loss to Celtics
Lakers’ Jeremy Lin trying to meet challenge of playing with Kobe Bryant
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at email@example.com
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott scratches his forehead in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Washington. The Wizards won 111-95. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
BOSTON — The affection Lakers coach Byron Scott has for Kobe Bryant becomes crystal clear the moment he talks. Scott gushes about Bryant’s play following two major injuries. Scott defends Bryant’s shot selection. Scott waxes nostalgic about serving as Bryant’s mentor his rookie season 18 years ago.
But Scott hardly seemed thrilled about Bryant having breakfast on Thursday morning with Celtics guard Rajon Rondo. Which Celtic did Scott dine with during the Lakers’ Showtime Era?
“I didn’t, “Scott said. “I’m still real old school. I don’t have breakfast with Danny [Ainge] and all those guys.”
Lakers star Kobe Bryant and Boston’s Rajon Rondo, the only players remaining from the teams’ NBA Finals showdowns in 2008 and 2010, will square off again under much different circumstances Friday night at TD Center in Boston. (Winslow Townson/The Associated Press)
BOSTON — The two men once faced each other in physically intense battles that both defined the Lakers-Celtics rivalry and determined NBA championships. But on Thursday morning, there Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Celtics guard Rajon Rondo sat together for breakfast at The Paramount in Beacon Hill.
“It was delicious,” Bryant said following morning shootaround before the Lakers (5-14) visit the Boston Celtics (5-11) on Friday at TD Garden.
But the breakfast involved more than just enjoying orange juice and toast.
Bryant showed off his sarcasm involving the issue on whether he would like Rondo join the Lakers once he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“I’ve never thought about having any future teammates before,” Bryant said, wryly.
Instead, Bryant joked that he and Rondo had a “mutual intervention” surrounding their respective team struggles. In reality, Bryant reported having a “basketball geek conversation” that entailed revisiting the Lakers and Celtics trading NBA titles in 2008 and 2010.
But Bryant said those talks did not involve any bantering. Bryant said he reserves that for former Celtic Paul Pierce, who currently plays in Washington. What has Bryant said to Pierce?
“That two birds in a hand,” Bryant said, “are always better than one.”
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant pauses in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
WASHINGTON D.C. — His thirst for competition still seems unquenchable. His willingness to put in the work appears unmatched. His public support over the Lakers’ front office has not waned despite the frequently debilitating losses.
Yet, Kobe Bryant hardly sounded uncertain if that will entice him enough to prolong his career with the Lakers beyond his two-year, $48.5 contract that expires following the 2015-16 season.
“Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t want to be coy about it,” Bryant said following the Lakers’ 111-95 loss on Wednesday to the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center. “I don’t know what to tell you. Right now I’d say no. But it doesn’t matter. Would that change a year from now or something like that?”
The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, center, overcame early fatigue to score 12 points in Tuesday’s 106-96 victory over Detroit. Jordan Hill led the Lakers with 22 points. Carlos Osorio ‑ The Associated Press
WASHINGTON D.C. — Amid the sleepless nights and debilitating losses, three things still keep Lakers coach Byron Scott enthusiastic.
His love for the Lakers’ franchise after winning three NBA championships during the Show Time Era. His optimism that the Lakers will rebuild quickly. And his joy in coaching Kobe Bryant after once serving as his rookie mentor 18 years ago.
Part of Scott’s optimism about the Lakers’ future stems from Bryant posting a league-leading 25.8 points per game after appearing in only six contests last season with injuries to his left Achilles and left knee. Scott also believes he can convince Bryant to play beyond his contract that expires following the 2015-16 season.
“We’ll talk about that. You guys have watched him play. He has a lot left in that tank,” Scott said before the Lakers (4-13) play the Washington Wizards (11-5) at Verizon Center. “If we put something together that excites him, we’ll have a real good chance of him saying he’ll play another year and give it another shot. That’s what we plan to do.”
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — When it appeared the Lakers could jeopardize their chances at collecting a rare victory, the team relied on a key player to close out the game they wanted.
His name was not Kobe Bryant.
His name was Jordan Hill, whose surprisingly consistent mid-range jumper became the Lakers’ key weapon in securing a 106-96 victory on Tuesday over the Detroit Pistons at the Palace. Hill’s team-leading 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting and 13 rebounds also featured a fourth-quarter stretch where he scored eight consecutive points at the perfect time.
The Lakers’ second unit nearly squandered a 21-point lead, prompting coach Byron Scott to reinsert his starters to ensure a dwindling 88-78 cushion with 6:39 remaining would not decrease even more. During that stretch, Hill sank two jumpers, converted on a layup and connected on a left hook shot. And all that body work left the Lakers’ usual closer handing out an assist.
“Jordan worked extremely hard this summer on his mid-range jumper at the point where he’s one of the best big shooters in the league,” Bryant said. “He makes it tough for defenses to lock in. That mid-range jumper for him is dead eye.”
Mike D’Antoni gives some instruction in the final seconds to Chris Duhon and Kobe Bryant. The Lakers defeated the Brooklyn Nets 95-90 in a game played at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. The game was new coach Mike D’Antoni’s first victory as a Laker. 11/20/12 (photos by John McCoy/Staff Photographer)
Kobe Bryant once considered Mike D’Antoni both a childhood idol when he grew up watching him play overseas in Italy and an “offensive genius” when the Lakers hired him to coach about two years ago. But Bryant’s sentiments soon changed as the he developed a dislike for D’Antoni’s fast-paced system through the Lakers’ two injury-plagued seasons.
Hence, why D’Antoni admitted in an interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio that he viewed coaching Bryant with mixed feelings.
First the positives. D’Antoni could not rave enough about Bryant’s work ethic. The Lakers’ star has averaged a league-leading 26.7 points albeit on a career-low 39.1 percent shooting after playing in only six games last season amid injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left knee.
“His ability to have a volume of work that he does. I didn’t have any doubt he would come back from the two injuries other than age. If it’s humanly possible, he’s going to do it,” D’Antoni said about Bryant. “He’ll keep it going as long as it’s humanly possible. He’ll try to be the best that has ever played the game. Being around him every day and watching him every day work that hard is incredible.”
“The tough part about coaching him is that he has that determination and near sightedness that he doesn’t see the fringes too much,” D’Antoni said. “He’s going to go over you, under you, but he gets right to where he wants to go. Sometimes that makes it tough to coach him.”