Lakers’ Larry Nance Jr considered a game-time decision vs San Antonio

Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. will miss his third consecutive game because of a sore right knee.  (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. will miss his third consecutive game because of a sore right knee. (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

The man once defied gravity with his soaring jumps. He once exceeded expectations with a dependable mid-range jumper. But Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. has landed back down to earth because of a sore right knee. After missing the past two games because of that injury, Larry Nance Jr. will find out leading up to tipoff whether he will return when the Lakers (9-35) host the San Antonio Spurs (37-6) on Friday at Staples Center.

Nance Jr. participated in Friday’s morning shootaround and was seen taking jumpers. But Lakers coach Byron Scott described the session as “light.”

“If I leave it up to him, he’ll probably say, ‘Coach I’m good.’ But I’ll talk to Gary [Vitt],” said Scott, referring to the Lakers’ head athletic trainer. “I didn’t get a chance to see him get up and down the floor. I’ll talk to Gary and see how he feels and go from there.””

Nance Jr. played only three minutes in Saturday’s loss in Utah, but he and the Lakers reported he had felt some consistent albeit mild soreness in recent weeks. But the Lakers have since treated Nance Jr. conservatively.

The Lakers have liked Nance Jr’s energy, defense and shooting accuracy, which has contributed toward averaging 6.0 points on 54 percent shooting and 5.0 rebounds. That explains why Scott remains reluctant to yank Nance Jr’s starting spot at power forward, which he played for 22 games before his injury. But Lakers forward Julius Randle will receive another nod to prove his worthiness as a starter, though that has proven a mixed bag. After posting 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting and 11 rebounds in Sunday’s loss to Houston, Randle had six points on a 2-of-11 clip and 12 rebounds in Tuesday’s loss to Sacramento.

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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant leads NBA in votes for final All-Star appearance

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings Lakers' Kobe Bryant (24) drives the lane against Kings' Ben McLemore (23) during a NBA basketball game Wednesday, January 20, 2016, Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA. Photo by Steve McCrank/Staff Photographer

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings
Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (24) drives the lane against Kings’ Ben McLemore (23) during a NBA basketball game Wednesday, January 20, 2016, Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA.
Photo by Steve McCrank/Staff Photographer

So much uncertainty looms over Kobe Bryant’s fluctuating health and performances. But nothing seems uncertain regarding fan sentiment surrounding Bryant, who received an NBA-leading 1,891,614 votes to start in his 18th and final NBA All-Star game on Feb. 16 in Toronto.

Bryant will start with Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook. Golden State forward Draymond Green surprisingly will not start, though coaches can still vote for him as a reserve.

Bryant will become the fourth player in NBA history to start an All-Star game at 37 years or older, something only Michael Jordan, John Havlicek and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have also done. He became the NBA’s leading vote-getter for the fourth time in his career (2003, 2011 and 2013) and was named a start for an NBA-record 16th time. Only Abdul-Jabbar (19) has made more NBA All-Star appearances than Bryant, who was named as a starter in every All-Star game since 1998. There was no game in 1999 because of the league-imposed lockout. Bryant also missed the NBA All-Star game in 2010, 2014 and 2015 because of injuries.

Bryant has set numerous NBA All-Star records. He is tied with Bob Pettit for four All-Star MVP’s in 2002, 2007, 2008 and 2011. He has set records for mots points scored (280), most field goals made (115) and most steals (37, tied with Michael Jordan).

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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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Forbes value Lakers at $2.7 billion as NBA’s second most valuable franchise

Lakers president Jeanie Buss oversees a franchise that Forbes say is ranked $2.6 billion. ANDY HOLZMAN — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Lakers president Jeanie Buss oversees a franchise that Forbes say is ranked $2.6 billion. ANDY HOLZMAN — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Even amid a difficult present and an uncertain future, the Lakers have clarity on at least one thing.

They are still a valuable NBA franchise. So valuable that Forbes are worth $2.7 billion and are considered the NBA’s second-most lucrative franchise behind the New York Knicks ($3.0 billion).

Forbes reported the Lakers brought in $304 million in annual revenue off of an operating income worth $133.4 million. Last year, Forbes valued the Lakers at $2.4 billion, meaning the Lakers made a 4% increase in total earnings. The Lakers rank ahead of the Chicago Bulls ($2.3 billion), Boston Celtics ($2.1 billion) and the Clippers ($2 billion), which is the amount Steve Ballmer spent paid to own the franchise in 2014.

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Lakers’ Julius Randle lands endorsement deal with Mountain Dew

Lakers second-year forward Julius Randle recently partnered with Mountain Dew. Photo courtesy of Golin.

Lakers second-year forward Julius Randle recently partnered with Mountain Dew. Photo courtesy of Golin.

The beverage that Lakers second-year forward Julius Randle has endorsed likely would not meet the approval of the team’s training staff. Avoiding such consumption also helped Randle lose about 20 pounds while rehabbing his surgically repaired right leg during his rookie season.

But Randle recently partnered with Mountain Dew that will include posing for promotional materials and making future promotional on behalf of the soda company. As seen below, Randle also starred in a behind-the-scenes video of his photo shoot with Mountain Dew before the 2015-16 NBA season started.

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Kobe Bryant plans to stay physically active after retirement

Lakers Kobe Bryant drives around Rockets Jason Terry during first half action at Staples Center Sunday, January 17, 2016.   ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles News Group )

Lakers Kobe Bryant drives around Rockets Jason Terry during first half action at Staples Center Sunday, January 17, 2016. ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles News Group )

Many things have emerged on Kobe Bryant’s bucket list. After all, the Lakers’ 37-year-old star sounds aware he will have both free time and a competitive appetite to fill once his 20-year NBA career ends in three months.

So, Bryant revealed in an interview on “SiriusXM NBA Radio” on Wednesday that he plans to take up skiing, surfing and maybe even sky diving for the first time, all activities he could hardly do before considering it could compromise his health during his NBA career. But the Lakers’ 37-year-old star also suggested some things will stay the same, such as his morning workout routine.

“I’ll continue to stay in good shape,” Bryant told former Lakers teammate Rick Fox and Sirius XM NBA Radio host Jared Greenberg. “It’s important from a health perspective and also to maintain a schedule. To have a career end and you feel like it would be more fun and more free to be able to wake up and not have a schedule and things of that sort? If anything, I think that makes things more confusing. It’s important to maintain a schedule and get up and continue to train at 6 a.m and then go about my daily routine that I ordinarily would in coming into the office and work and do the things I want to do for the future.”

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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant has third most selling jersey in 2015

Lakers Kobe Bryant makes a pass during first half action at Staples Center Sunday, January 17, 2016.   ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles News Group )

Lakers Kobe Bryant makes a pass during first half action at Staples Center Sunday, January 17, 2016. ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles News Group )

The No. 24 Lakers jerseys fill up the arenas both at Staples Center and at opposing venues. So much that Kobe Bryant had the third-most selling jersey in 2015, based on NBAStore.com sales from October 2015 through December 2015.

Bryant only trails behind Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Cleveland’s LeBron James, both of whom squared off in the 2015 NBA Finals. Meanwhile, the Lakers boasted the fourth most popular sales behind the Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers. Clippers guard Chris Paul ranked 14th overall in jersey sales, while the Clippers finished 10th in team sales.

The NBA attributed all of its sales to what it called a “record-breaking holiday seasons.” The league reported NBAStore.com finished with a 20 percent increase from last year in combined sales during Black Friday (Nov. 27) and Cyber Monday (Nov. 30).

Bryant’s strong jersey sales likely stems from his global popularity, his extensive resume and his announcement that he will retire following the 2015-16 campaign in what will mark his 20th NBA season.

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Nike, Robert Glasper create soundtrack to Kobe Bryant’s career

As he has willed himself to make every basket, win every game and fight through every injury that he can, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has found another passion that does not involve a ball and a hoop. Amid Bryant’s plans to retire following this season in what will mark an accomplished 20-year NBA career, Bryant also revealed that he loves storytelling and partly explains why a camera crew has recorded nearly every second of the 2015-16 season for a possible documentary.

So it only seems appropriate that both Nike and Grammy Award winning jazz pianist Robert Glasper collaborated to make a soundtrack to commemorate Bryant’s career that includes five NBA titles, a third-place ranking on the NBA’s all-time scoring list and a second-place ranking on the Lakers’ all-time assists list. In the song titled “Be Couragous,” Glasper encapsulates Bryant’s eventful career using 4/4 and 6/8 times signatures, a beat popular both in jazz and hip hop. Nike said Gasper also used those beat signatures to commemorate the assassination of former civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968.

Nike has invited fans to leave both their own verse over Glasper’s instrumental and share their favorite memories of Bryant’s career in the comments section for a full highlight film to be released on Sound Cloud. Nike Basketball then plans to make a final film using user-selected moments of Bryant’s career and Glasper’s score for a release during NBA All-Star weekend from Feb. 12-14, 2016 in Toronto. Then, Bryant is expected to play in his 18th and last NBA All-Star game, a moment that will likely feature another moment to the soundtrack of his life.

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Kobe Bryant, Julius Randle reflect on Martin Luther King Jr.

In commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. day, the NBA featured a tribute video that featured comments from various stars. That included Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.

After the Lakers’ loss on Sunday to Houston at Staples Center, second-year forward Julius Randle also reflected on the former civil rights activist.

“It means a lot with what he has done for our culture,” Randle said. “For us of all races to be able to come together, do things together and be all looked at equally, it’s huge. I cant say enough for what it’s done for us today.”


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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant “proud of” ranking 2nd on franchise’s all-time assists list

David Crane — Staff Photographer Lakers star Kobe Bryant, right, looks for a pass around Rockets defenders Terrence Jones and Trevor Ariza on Sunday.

David Crane — Staff Photographer Lakers star Kobe Bryant, right, looks for a pass around Rockets defenders Terrence Jones and Trevor Ariza on Sunday.

The opposing teams worry about his scoring outbursts. His tribute videos show a never-ending highlight of clutch baskets. Past teammates and coaches have even grumbled publicly and privately about the high-volume shooting.

But contrary to popular legend, Kobe Bryant has cemented a 20-year NBA career as a pretty good passer, too. So much that Bryant climbed to No. 2 on the Lakers’ all-time assists list during a 112-95 loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday at Staples Center.

“It means a lot,” Bryant said. “It’s an accomplishment I’m really really proud of.”

The 37-year-old Bryant eclipsed former Lakers player and executive Jerry West (6,238) for second place on the franchise’s list after throwing a pass to Lou Williams with 6:09 left in the second quarter. That play highlighted Bryant’s enhanced facilitating role where he posted five points on 2-of-5 shooting and nine assists in 24 minutes. Bryant only trails former Lakers guard Magic Johnson, who has 10,141 career assists.

“You have to keep the defense honest,” said Bryant, who has 6,244 career assists. “You’ve got to be able to make plays and make passes to have the defense fear you as a passer. If they don’t, you can’t score 40 points, you can’t score 50 points, because they can just load up on you. So you’ve got to be able to be feared as a passer.”

Bryant’s become mostly feared as a scorer, obviously. He remains the Lakers’ all-time scorer with 33,054 points, a mark that also ranks third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Bryant posted a franchise-record 81 points on Jan. 22, 2016, a mark that only trails Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962. Bryant has logged 50-point games 19 times. He has posted 60-point games in three other instances.

And yet..

“He’s not only just a scorer. He can do other things as he has shown for 20 years,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “It’s all predicated on the game and how the players are playing him.”

Bryant mostly has taken the scoring load this season, averaging 16.7 points on a career-low 34.6 percent clip with a team-leading 16.8 shot attempts. But Bryant assumed more ball-handling duties on Sunday because he was “moving well” amid recent soreness in his right shoulder and right Achilles.

“When he has the ball, pretty much everybody is watching him,” Scott said. “The defense is focused in on him.”

That partly led to the Lakers featuring double digit scorers, including Williams (20 points), Jordan Clarkson (16), D’Angelo Russell (12), Julius Randle (12) and Anthony Brown (10).

“I dish. It’s on them whether they make it or not,” Bryant said of his teammates. “It’s not rocket science to me. If I handle the ball and I penetrate, I can find guys pretty easily and pass the ball pretty well. It’s nothing new.”

After all, Bryant has posted a career-high 17 assists on Jan. 15, 2015 against Cleveland. Bryant somewhat deferred to Shaquille O’Neal when the two played together from 1996 to 2004 and won three NBA titles together. Bryant has recorded 21 career triple-doubles. He also appreciated teammates who passed the ball well to him to fuel his top skill in putting the ball in the basket.

Bryant hardly hesitated in naming the best passer he played with during his 20-year NBA career.

“Pau Gasol, no question. It’s not even close,” said Bryant, who won two NBA titles with Gasol from 2008 to 2014. “His vision, his timing and ability to pass the ball left hand and right hand and his size and ability to look over the top of the defense. He’s such a willing passer.”

On Sunday against Houston, so was Bryant.


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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’ Larry Nance Jr. ruled out vs Houston with sore right knee

Laker Larry Nance Jr.,  ,7, fights for a rebound against Utah's Jeff Withey ,24, during the 3rd quarter, at the Staples Center. Utah won 86-74.  Los Angeles  , Calif., Sunday, January,10, 2016.         (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Laker Larry Nance Jr., ,7, fights for a rebound against Utah’s Jeff Withey ,24, during the 3rd quarter, at the Staples Center. Utah won 86-74. Los Angeles , Calif., Sunday, January,10, 2016.
(Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

It turns out the Lakers’ concerns became correct. It turns out Larry Nance Jr’s optimism became wrong.

Although MRI results came out negative, Nance Jr. will sit out Sunday’s game against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center because of a sore right knee.

Nance Jr. played only three minutes during Saturday’s loss to Utah, but he told Los Angeles News Group afterwards that he felt minor pain in his knee through varying points of the 2015-16 season.

“It was just progressive. You play so many games that you’re not used to as a rookie,” Nance Jr. said. “It gets worse and worse. It’s something. I don’t know what it was. It was something. The training staff said, ‘Let’s get under control.'”

Nance Jr. still insisted he’s “all good.” He added, “If it was up to me, I’m going.” But then Nance Jr. observed the Lakers’ training staff is “very protective.” So when Nance Jr. alerted Lakers trainer Gary Vitti about feeling additional pain before the game, the team’s training and coaching staff observed Nance Jr. with a critical eye.

“We watched him right from the start and we could tell from the start he was limping pretty badly,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “He was grimacing.”

Lakers second-year forward Julius Randle will likely start in Nance Jr.’s place after playing the past 21 games as a reserve. Randle has averaged 10.5 points on 40.3 percent shooting and 9.4 rebounds this season.

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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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