Lakers’ Ed Davis downplays right ankle injury in sluggish first start

The Lakers gushed over Ed Davis’ endless energy. The Staples Center crowd marveled at his blocks that he spiked powerfully away from the basket. The potential seemed so promising that public sentiment expressed on Twitter and in message boards suggested Davis should soon take a spot in the Lakers’ starting lineup.

That finally happened, but it hardly looked pretty in the Lakers’ 101-94 loss on Sunday to the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. With Lakers forward Carlos Boozer nursing a sore left shoulder, Davis posted only four points and five rebounds before fouling out in 22 minutes.

“This was more of an opportunity to play and help the team,” Davis said. “But I fouled out so I didn’t do a good job of that.”

It also didn’t help that Davis rolled his right ankle that he said happened in the third quarter after landing awkwardly following a rebound attempt. Though he eventually reentered the game, Davis quickly went back into the training room for more treatment after fouling out with 10:38 left in the fourth quarter.

“I think I should be fine,” Davis said. “I can walk right now. I’m not in a boot so that’s a good sign.”

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Lakers’ Nick Young suggesting cast hurts his shooting stroke

So much for Nick Young’s swag carrying the Lakers to an undefeated mark.

That fun lasted for two games. But that was hardly present during the Lakers’ 101-94 loss on Sunday to the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. There, Young’s seven-point effort on 2-of-12 shooting hardly matched the performance of his girlfriend Iggy Azalea, the Australian rapper who won favorite rap album and best rap album at the 2014 American Music Awards taking place across the street at Nokia Theatre.

Young vowed he has “no excuses,” but he then said he’s “still trying to find my rhythm” as he nurses a soft cast to support his surgically repaired right thumb that kept him out for the previous six weeks.

“It’s still tough for me playing with a cast on,’ Young said. “I’ll still go out there and compete every night. It’ll fall for me.”

They didn’t fall for Young against Denver. He missed all five of his second-half attempts, including a 30-foot heave just as time expired in regulation. His lone attempt in overtime came on a 10-foot jumper that fell short.

That hardly jibes with the high-volume shooting he unleashed last week against Atlanta (17 points on 6-of-10 shooting) and Houston (16 points on 6-of-15 shooting). But Young suggested he felt more effective in those games while relying on his adrenaline rush stemmed from his initial return. Now, Young said he feels limitations with dribbling with his right hand and adjusting his grip on the ball.

But Young will have to get used to it. He said he will wear the soft cast “for a while” so it can protect the stitches on his thumb.

“I still got to get the hang of things,” Young said. “It’ll come back. I’m not less confident. I have the same confidence in my shot and my teammates.”


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Lakers’ 101-94 loss to Denver prompts Kobe Bryant dependency question

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) battles Denver Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo (10) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) battles Denver Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo (10) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

The clock started ticking away. The Lakers needed a basket to secure the win. So those circumstance meant one thing, and one thing only.

Kobe Bryant would have the ball in his hands. He would shoot the ball. And the Lakers’ success would hinge on whether or not he made the basket.

It didn’t go in.

“I could have gotten a better one,” Bryant said, “but that was a shot I practiced my entire career.”

Bryant’s 19-foot fallaway jumper clanked off the rim just before regulation expired. Nick Young was left standing open at the top of the key. And though the Lakers’ 101-94 loss on Sunday to the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center did not become official until overtime, Bryant’s missed shot opened up a debate that has become all too common during his 19-year career.

Have the Lakers become too dependent on Kobe Bryant?

“Not really,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I thought tonight because of the way they were loading up, they did a great job in forcing them to come at him. When they came at him, he did a great job of finding guys. We just missed shots.”

Not everyone agrees.

“At times, we fall into relying on No. 24 a lot,” Lakers forward Nick Young said. “We got to believe in ourselves. I believe in everybody on this team. Kobe is going to be Kobe. But we have to find a way to put the ball in the hole with everybody else.”

That hardly happened.

Wesley Johnson’s one-handed dunk over Denver’s Danilo Gallinari on a fast-break may have sparked the Lakers enough for Robert Sacre to dance from the bench and ignite the 18,997 fans at Staples Center. The play have given the Lakers a 85-82 lead with 3:15 left in the game. The play have signaled the Lakers (3-11) were ready collect their third win in the past four games by relying on defensive hustle and offensive balance.

But then it didn’t.

The Lakers did not score in the rest of the fourth quarter. Bryant’s 27 points on 10-of-24 shooting featuring him missing seven of his last eight attempts. And though Scott also cited the Lakers’ woes in the fourth quarter and in overtime both from the foul line (7-of-11) and offensive rebound disparity (9-2), Bryant’s shooting accuracy became a topic of conversation.

“I feel like I took myself out of rhythm a little bit. In the third quarter, I might have been too passive and let the game get away from me a little bit,” said Bryant, who attempted only one field goal in the third quarter. “I tried to gain it back a little bit. It’s a tough balance.”

Scott believes he can correct that balance by

three offensive rebounds

“I could have gotten a better one,” Bryant said. “But that was a shot I practiced my entire career.”


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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’ Byron Scott, Nuggets’ Brian Shaw have strong ties

New Lakers head coach Byron Scott at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. Scott Varley — Staff photographer

New Lakers head coach Byron Scott at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. Scott Varley — Staff photographer

The common thread that tie Byron Scott, Brian Shaw and Derek Fisher go deeper than winning multiple NBA championships with the Lakers. They are all NBA head coaches, hoping their professional experience in collecting championship hardware will carry over on the sideline.

All of have experienced rough patches, though.

Fisher has compiled a 4-10 record thus far in his first season coaching the New York Knicks. Shaw went 36-46 last season in his first year with the Denver Nuggets and missed the playoffs. Scott experienced some good, including two trips to the NBA Finals with the former New Jersey Nets and winning NBA coach of the year in 2008 with the former New Orleans Hornets. Scott has also experienced some bad. All three of his coaching stints in New Jersey (200-04), New Orleans (2004-09) and Cleveland (2010-13) ended with his firing. Scott has also overseen the Lakers’ worst start in franchise history.

“Both of those guys are great guys and I love them to death,” Scott said before the Lakers hosted the Nuggets on Sunday at Staples Center. “Being ex-players, they’ll learn a lot faster than most guys because they’ve been there and done that. It’s obviously an adjustment because you’re so used to doing it when you played. When you coach, you have to rely on other people to do it. I think both of those guys will be great coaches.”
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Lakers’ Carlos Boozer listed as questionable to play tonight vs Denver

Kobe Bryant (24), Carlos Boozer (5) and Jeremy Lin (not pictured) sat out Saturday’s practice with the L.A. Lakers. Boozer and Lin are listed as probably, while Bryant was given the day off in order to be rested for their game against Denver at Staples Center Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014. (File photo/AP Photo)

Kobe Bryant (24), Carlos Boozer (5) and Jeremy Lin (not pictured) sat out Saturday’s practice with the L.A. Lakers. Boozer and Lin are listed as probably, while Bryant was given the day off in order to be rested for their game against Denver at Staples Center Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014. (File photo/AP Photo)

The Lakers may make some changes to their starting lineup, but it has nothing to do with coach Byron Scott feeling upset with any individual performances.

Instead, forward Carlos Boozer is listed as questionable to play when the Lakers (3-10) host the the Denver Nuggets (5-7) on Sunday at Staples Center because of a sore left shoulder. Scott said that Boozer had “complained last week that it was really really sore.” But Scott reported that the pain subsided after sitting out of a practice. Boozer then aggravated it during the Lakers’ loss on Friday to the Dallas Mavericks. Boozer sat out of Saturdays’ practice.

If Boozer does not play, Ed Davis will start at power forward. Boozer has averaged 13.3 points on 49 percent shooting, but has battled inconsistency with both his marksmanship and defense. Davis has averaged 8.3 points on 63.6 percent shooting, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game, numbers that make the Lakers consider him their best defender.

“He’s very efficient around the basket,” Scott said of Davis. “He gives us a presence in the paint. We need that tonight with this team.”

Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant will play after missing Saturday’s practice to rest. Lakers guard Jeremy Lin said he will play tonight after missing Saturday’s practice because of a sore back. Lin said he was “hit awkwardly” in an unspecified play in the Lakers’ loss to Dallas, but that the injury stems from “just stuff that got built up.”

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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin sit out of Saturday’s practice

Kobe Bryant was held to 17 points by the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, as Lakers lose 140-103 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. (File photo/Daily News)

Kobe Bryant was held to 17 points by the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, as Lakers lose 140-103 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. (File photo/Daily News)

The Lakers have experienced a new wave of injuries, but none of which the team feels are serious.

Both Lakers forward Carlos Boozer (sore left shoulder) and guard Jeremy Lin (sore back) sat out of Saturday’s practice, while Kobe Bryant stayed at home at his Orange County residence to rest his 36-year-old body.

Bryant cited heavy legs for his 17-point performance on 6-of-22 shooting in the Lakers’ 140-106 loss on Friday to the Dallas Mavericks. But Scott revealed that he found out Bryant fit in an early afternoon shooting session before the game that lasted until he made 300 shots. Scott held out optimism the day off could restore his energy for when the Lakers (3-10) host the Denver Nuggets (5-7) on Sunday at Staples Center.

“Sometimes that can hurt you more than help you. That probably wore him out for the game,” Scott said. “He’s probably playing with the dogs and girls and having a good time. But at least it’s not the constant running up and down and jumping. He’ll save his legs for tomorrow, hopefully.”

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Lakers’ Wayne Ellington dedicating 2014-15 season to deceased father

DALLAS — His eyes looked swollen, red and teary as Lakers reserve guard Wayne Ellington calmly retold what has marked the “lowest of all lows that I’ve ever been at in my life.”

Ellington has lived with the grief ever since learning that his father was murdered nearly two weeks ago in Philadelphia. After taking a leave of absence that entailed missing six games and attending his father’s funeral, Ellington pledged he will dedicate the 2014-15 season to his father.

“He was so ecstatic when I signed with the Lakers before camp. He was telling me how proud he is of me,” said Ellington, who made the Lakers’ roster on a non-guaranteed contract, averaging 7.8 points on 57.1 percent shooting in 20.6 minutes as both a backup shooting and point guard. “I’m leaving it all out there every single day every time I step out on the floor.”
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Lakers’ Wayne Ellington makes his return in Dallas, but unlikely to play

DALLAS — Lakers reserve guard Wayne Ellington returned to the team on Thursday after taking an approved absence for over the past week because of his father’s murder in Philadelphia.

Lakers coach Byron Scott said it is unlikely Ellington will play in tonight’s game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Arena, hopeful that continuity from the teams’ two-game winning streak will carry over.

“He hasn’t gotten a whole lot of sleep and lost weight,” Scott said. “That’s all understandable given what he’s been through. For us and for him, the best thing is to get back with the team as soon as possible and get back to his family. Now it’s up to us to make him feel back at home.”
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Kobe Bryant argues his extension still gave Lakers enough to build a contender

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, center, puts up a shot as Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, left, and center Andrew Bogut, of Australia, defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, in Los Angeles. The Warriors won 136-115. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, center, puts up a shot as Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, left, and center Andrew Bogut, of Australia, defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, in Los Angeles. The Warriors won 136-115. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

DALLAS — The last time Kobe Bryant stepped foot here, he unleashed a 38-point barrage against the Mavericks that provided a perfect retort to owner Mark Cuban suggesting the Lakers should use the amnesty provision on him.

“Amnesty that,” Bryant then tweeted.

It remains to be seen whether Bryant will fire off any similar barbs through 140 characters. But Bryant had plenty to say about the business of basketball, strongly defending the Lakers granting him a two-year $48.5 million extension last year while still rehabbing his left Achilles tendon.

“Did I take a discount? Yeah,” Bryant said. “Did I take a discount as much as fans want me to? No. Is it a big enough discount to help us be a contender? Yeah. What we tried to do is be in a situation where we take care of the player and the player takes care of the organization enough to put them in a championship predicament.”

Plenty of rebuttals await considering the Lakers (3-9) have opened the 2014-15 season with their worst start in L.A. franchise history. But even with Bryant’s extension, the Lakers still offered max contracts to LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. The Lakers offered the most money to Pau Gasol, who chose the Chicago Bulls because he wanted to join a championship contending team. The Lakers gave generous raises to Nick Young (four years, $21 million) and Jordan Hill (two years, $18 million).

But Bryant addressed this issue considering Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki took a steep hometown discount this summer, a three-year deal worth $25 million.

“I think that means he’s not playing in Los Angeles,” Bryant said. “I think it’s not about the winning portion of it. That’s where players get themselves in a lot of trouble. That might offend some people but I’ve played 19 years in the NBA so I don’t care. It’s about the business of basketball. For a lot of writers and fans, they have a tough time distinguishing the two. This is a business. You have to look at the individuals into what they generated, the market that they generated revenue. You cant’ separate them, People have a hard time separating that stuff. From a business perspective you have to take that into account. As a player you have to try to as a player be in situations where you can have a win win for everybody.”

Nowitzki’s paycut opened up room for the Mavericks to acquire Chandler Parsons from Houston and Tyson Chandler from New York during free agency. San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan also took a paycut, signing a three-year, $30 million deal that expires this summer. That assured the Spurs retained veterans Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, while having complementary pieces such as Kawhi Leonard and a bench that averaged a league-leading 44.3 points per game.

But Bryant considers those examples as comparing apples-to-oranges. Bryant also laughed when told Cuban has argued against max contracts, saying, “you have to consider the source.”

“It’s the popular thing to do. Players take less, blah, blah, blah,” Bryant said. “But I think it’s a big coup for the owners to put players in situations where public perception puts pressure on them to take less money,. If you don’t, then you get criticized for it and all this stuff. It’s absolutely brilliant. But I’m not going for it. I know the new head of the players association isn’t going for it either.”

The NBA and its players association agreed to a near 50-50 split in basketball revenue during the 2011 lockout. So how should the players union respond during the 2017 offseason considering the NBA’s record-breaking nine-year television contract with ESPN and Turner Broadcasting is worth a reported $24 billion?

“We’ll work to change that,” Bryant said. “We’ll work to change that, just for the challenge of changing it.”

But Bryant stressed he won’t be around for that, maintaining he won’t play beyond his contract that expires following the 2015-16 season.

“I wont be playing,” Bryant said. “I wont be playing.”


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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant envisions Nick Young becoming 6th man of the year candidate

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Lakers’ Nick Young receives flop warning from NBA

The Lakers find Nick Young’s personality endearing. But there was one act the NBA hardly thought was amusing.

The league issued Young a flop warning on Thursday in regards to a play in the Lakers’ 114-109 victory Tuesday over the Atlanta Hawks. In that game, Young drew a foul on Atlanta’s Kyle Korver while shooting a corner three-point shot. NBA.com showed a video of the replay, which shows that Korver did not make any contact with Young. But that didn’t stop the Lakers’ reserve from sliding out of bounds after shooting the ball.

Young won’t actually receive any punishment. But after the NBA issues a warning, the league fines a player $5,000 for a second flopping violation. The monetary penalties increase with each additional flop, including a suspension.

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