The Lakers had an extra visitor Wednesday as Larry Nance Sr. stopped by practice and observed his son, Larry Jr.
Nance, who played in the NBA for 13 seasons, watched practice wearing a team hat, which he said was an adjustment from his days facing the Lakers while playing for Phoenix in the 1980s.
“They were always a tough team that came through and beat the crap out of us all the time,” said Nance, who recalled chasing James Worthy and guarding Magic Johnson as well as Lakers coach Byron Scott’s shooting prowess.
The Lakers announced late Saturday that former training camp roster invitees Robert Upshaw and Michael Frazier had made the D-Fenders training camp roster.
Both Upshaw and Frazier were waived on October 20 after appearing in four preseason games. Fans were a bit surprised that Upshaw, a 7-0 center, did not make the team but now the undrafted rookie out of Washington will have a chance to develop and refine his skills in the D-League.
Training camp for the D-Fenders opens on Wednesday.
Two games into his rookie season, D’Angelo Russell’s play has become as much discussion as the Lakers’ struggles as a whole. The guard has as many assists (four) as turnovers.
After scoring 13 points and only turning the ball over once against Sacramento, Russell showed fewer nerves and more improvement in head coach Byron Scott’s eyes, especially in his decision making.
“He’s 19 years old and played in two professional games. It’s going to take a while to understand what this league is all about,” Scott said.
After watching the tape of last night’s 132-114 loss to Sacramento, Lakers head coach Byron Scott found an unusual culprit aiding his team’s defensive struggles. Fatigue.
It’s a bit unusual to hear that two games into the regular season and something Scott said he hadn’t noticed in years past coaching.
But upon review and talking with the team, tired legs may have been a factor in the team falling behind by as many 31 last night.
“What I did see was guys making the effort but they just looked fatigued,” Scott said.
The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant was cleared for practice earlier this month after tearing his rotator cuff in January. Hans Gutknecht ‑ Staff Photographer
Lakers rookie Larry Nance Jr. called Kobe Bryant’s mere presence in the room at the Lakers’ media day on Monday “electrifying.”
Bryant commanded the attention of a gym’s worth of reporters, and the 37-year-old was a primary topic of conversation in interviews with other Lakers players as well as he prepares for his 20th NBA season.
Bryant was cleared for practice earlier this month after suffering a right shoulder injury in January. His teammates haven’t seen him in action on the court yet, but they expressed nothing by confidence in Bryant.
“It’s Kobe,” center Tarik Black said. “You know he’s been in the gym. He’s put up a million shots. He’s probably in better shape than even myself. He’s probably going to be able to outrun me because that’s Kobe and that’s what he does.”
The Lakers’ 2015-16 schedule largely reflects the team’s prospects after an offseason finally infused with some hope. Nothing figures to come easy – 17 of their first 24 games are on the road, including an eight-game road trip in December – but the intrigue is exemplified by a season-opener pitting Timberwolves overall No. 1 draft pick Karl-Anthony Towns against No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell at Staples Center.
Should next season be Kobe Bryant’s last, there will be plenty of interest beyond watching the development of youth the likes of Russell, Jordan Clarkson and a healthy Julius Randle. March 10 could be the last time Bryant and Lebron James share the same floor if Kobe retires following the April 13 regular season finale when his two-year, $48.5 million contract expires.
Coming off the worst season in franchise history, the schedule makers still consider the Lakers a draw. They will be on national television 28 times, including a Christmas day home game on ESPN against the Clippers, part of a marquee lineup that includes an NBA Finals rematch between the Cavaliers and Warriors
Oct. 28: Timberwolves at Lakers
Season opener gives fans look at Russell vs Karl-Anthony Towns.
Nov. 24: Lakers at Warriors
Young Lakers visit defending NBA champions in hostile environment.
Nov. 29: Pacers at Lakers
Roy Hibbert’s first crack at the team who gave up on him.
Dec. 17: Rockets at Lakers
Laker fans relish chance to welcome Dwight Howard back to town.
Dec. 25: Clippers at Lakers
Lakers hoping 7-game losing streak to rival ends this season.
Jan. 8: Thunder at Lakers
D’ Angelo Russell will matchup with L.A. native Russell Westbrook
Feb. 4: Lakers at Pelicans
Start of brutal mid-season stretch including Spurs, Bulls, Grizzlies.
Feb. 19: Spurs at Lakers
Free agent target LaMarcus Aldridge returns as member of Spurs
March 10: Cavaliers at Lakers
Could be the last time Kobe, LeBron share the floor.
April 3: Celtics at Lakers
Lakers host historic rival to begin tough season-ending stretch.
Despite the lopsided nature of the intracity rivalry, the Lakers and Clippers will play each other in a marquee setting this coming NBA season.
L.A.’s two basketball teams will face off at 7:30 p.m. Christmas day, according to the 2015-16 NBA schedule released Wednesday afternoon.
The Clippers have beaten the Lakers seven consecutive times. In fact. the Clippers’ lone loss over the past three years of the hallway series remains a 116-103 Lakers triumph in the 2013 season opener. The Lakers have not only lost 11 of their past 12 to the Clippers, those contests have been decided by a margin of nearly 20 points per game.
Former assistant Casey Owens was announced as the Los Angeles D-Fenders new head coach on Tuesday after the Lakers NBA Developmental League team’s initial choice departed shortly after he was hired.
Conner Henry was tabbed the D-Fenders head coach June 10, but accepted a position on the Orlando Magic coaching staff June 26. Owens, who has coached in China, Venezuela, the NBA D-League and the Continental Basketball Association, was a D-Fenders assistant in 2013-14.
“I want to thank (D-Fenders General Manager) Nick Mazzella, the Buss family and the entire organization for this opportunity,” Owens said. “I am excited to return to El Segundo and the NBA Development League and look forward to the challenge of helping assemble a team that will compete for a championship.”
Phil Hubbard lasted just one season as the D-Fenders head coach, finishing fourth in the West Division with a 17-33 record last year. The previous season, during which Owens was an assistant, the D-Fenders won the West Division with a 31-19 record before being swept out of the playoffs in the first round by a Santa Cruz Warriors team for which Hubbard was an assistant. Four D-Fenders earned call-ups during the 2013-14 campaign, including Manny Harris and Shawne Williams, who joined the Lakers.
It’s no secret that Jeremy Lin has been playing mostly well since being demoted to the bench in December. After a season-high 29 points on Sunday against Philadelphia, Lin will be rewarded with a return to the starting lineup on Tuesday at Oklahoma City.
Byron Scott announced the decision following practice on Monday by saying that Lin would be paired with Jordan Clarkson and it was something he had considered the previous weeks based on Lin’s performances leading up to Sunday
“It had nothing to do with last night but last night obviously made it a little bit easier to throw him in there because he played so well. We’ll see what happens on this trip,” Scott said.