Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson learns and adjusts in second matchup with Chris Paul

The game kept replaying in Jordan Clarkson’s head, even if the constant reminders made the Lakers rookie point guard feel upset.

The images entailed everything that allowed the Clippers to give him nightmares. The constant double teams. Chris Paul’s unyielding aggressiveness. Clarkson’s uncertainty on what to do with the ball. When he didn’t think about those things, Clarkson watched them on tape.

All of which gave Clarkson both the motivation and knowledge to make adjustments. The Lakers may not have fully executed coach Byron Scott’s expletive-laced orders to “compete” in their 105-100 loss on Tuesday to the Clippers in a designated road game at Staples Center. But Clarkson provided the perfect counter punch by posting a team-leading 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting, a 5-of-6 mark from the foul line, six assists and four rebounds merely 48 hours after scoring two points on a 1-of-6 clip against the same opponent.

“I’m just trying to get better,” Clarkson said. “It’ll separate me from anybody else. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m trying to get better ever day.”

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Lakers’ Byron Scott says he has a sense who he wants in his foxhole

 Byron Scott’s coaching style is largely influenced by former Lakers coach Pat Riley, now President of the Miami Heat. The Heat come into town to play the Lakers at Staples Center, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. (Photo by Scott Varley/Daily Breeze)

Byron Scott’s coaching style is largely influenced by former Lakers coach Pat Riley, now President of the Miami Heat. The Heat come into town to play the Lakers at Staples Center, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. (Photo by Scott Varley/Daily Breeze)

Exactly eight days remain before the Lakers’ forgettable 2014-15 season. Regardless of how things turn out in the Lakers’ six remaining games, a few things will become inevitable.

The Lakers (20-56) will miss the NBA playoffs for the second consecutive season, and only the seventh time in franchise history. They will have plenty of roster holes to fill both through the NBA draft and free agency. They will encounter plenty of unanswered questions about their health, the most notably involving Kobe Bryant’s third consecutive season-ending injury.

Yet, Lakers coach Byron Scott has still held extended practices, vowing that “the season ain’t over.”

“We still have work to do,” said Scott, whose team will play the Clippers (52-26) in a designated road game at Staples Center. “We’re still trying to implement some of the things for next year as well. We don’t know how many guys will be here. The first thing is I don’t quit.”

Scott remains curious to see which ones will adopt the same attitude.

“I got a sense of a whole lot of people I wouldn’t want to be in a foxhole with,” Scott said, laughing. “I think they’d end up shooting me in the back. I have a pretty good sense of the guys who will be around that we can build around and build together this process and go through it. I think we’ll be fine.”

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Lakers’ Byron Scott, Jordan Clarkson eager to see how he responds to Chris Paul

Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, right, fouls Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 5, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, right, fouls Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 5, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Practice already ended, but Lakers rookie guard Jordan Clarkson stood on the sidelines eager to learn more lessons. He stood right next to Lakers coach Byron Scott, who offered plenty of feedback after posting two points on 1-of-6 shooting, three assists and two turnovers in the Lakers’ 106-78 loss to the Clippers on Sunday at Staples Center.

“I’m probably one of my hardest critics,” Clarkson said. “Sometimes that’s kind of bad. I’m so hard on myself that I get down.”

Yet, Clarkson and the Lakers this time believe that mindset will pay off.

Clarkson called his latest performance “probably one of my worst games this year” considering he has averaged 14.9 points on 46.2 percent shooting and 4.7 assists since becoming the Lakers’ starting point guard for the past 32 games. It did not help that Clippers guard Chris Paul made up for his seven points by posting 15 assists and leading the Clippers’ relentless double-team effort on Clarkson.

“We knew Chris would come in that way, knowing Jordan had been playing extremely well and got rookie of the month in March,” said Scott, who coached Paul in New Orleans from 2004 to 2009. “CP is one of those guys who likes making statements. Last night, he did of a hell of a job on him as well as his bigs.”

All of which left Clarkson eager for when the Lakers (20-56) play the Clippers (52-26) on Tuesday in a designated road game at Staples Center.

It’s good. I can definitely redeem myself,” Clarkson said. “We’re going to attack and play aggressively. All I was thinking about after the game was Tuesday. I just got to come back and play better.”

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Lakers set record for most losses in franchise history

"Clippers DeAndre Jordan slams in two points  during first half action at Staples Center Sunday.  ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News ) "

“Clippers DeAndre Jordan slams in two points during first half action at Staples Center Sunday. ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News ) “

The humiliation the Lakers experienced in their 106-78 loss to the Clippers on Sunday at Staples Center went beyond Chris Paul dribbling between the legs of Lakers forward Carlos Boozer. Or Paul throwing it off-the-backboard lob to Blake Griffin.

The Lakers also set a franchise record for losses in a single season, their 20-56 mark eclipsing last year’s 27-55 finish. The Lakers’ 26.3 winning percentage is slightly worse than the Minneapolis Lakers seasons in 1957-58 (19-53, 26.4%) and 1959-60 (25-50, 33.33%)

“Obviously losing doesn’t sit well with me period,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I’m not thinking about the record. But the losing part doesn’t sit well with me. Hopefully it doesn’t sit with those guys in the locker room as well.”
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Byron Scott has nothing but praise for Chris Paul and the Clippers

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

The Lakers (20-55) have their hands full with virtually every team in the NBA. They’ll be extra full Sunday when they square off with their hallway-neighbor Clippers (50-26) at 6:30 p.m. at Staples Center. Coach Byron Scott knows it, too.

Chris Paul is probably the best leader in this league and he’s probably the most competitive guy I’ve ever been around,” said Scott, who coached Paul at New Orleans. “He’s going to bring an attitude. And then, to go along with that, Blake (Griffin) and DeAndre (Jordan) and J.J. (Redick) is great as well. So right now they’re just playing great basketball.The challenge for us is to keep them out of the paint, keep them out as much as possible. Of course, when they shoot jump-shots, they’re contested. The biggest challenge after that is rebounding the ball.”

Paul is averaging 19.2 points, a league-high 10.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals.

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Lakers’ Byron Scott said team will build “with” Jordan Clarkson instead of “around”

Lakers' Jordan Clarkson goes to the hoop against the Trail Blazers' Robin Lopez, Friday, April 3, 2015, at Staples Center. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)

Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson goes to the hoop against the Trail Blazers’ Robin Lopez, Friday, April 3, 2015, at Staples Center. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)

The compliments gushed out of Byron Scott’s mouth, perhaps as quickly as takes Jordan Clarkson to run up the court and score.

Scott said that Clarkson “single-handedly got us back in the game,” his team-high 27 points on 12-of-20 shooting, seven rebounds and five assists perhaps the lone bright spot in the Lakers’ 107-77 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday at Staples Center. Scott noted how Clarkson became vocal with unnamed teammates for their poor effort. Scott defended Clarkson, arguing Portland guard Damian Lillard’s 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting had more to do with the Lakers’ team defense than any of Clarkson’s defensive miscues.

Add it all up, and Scott revealed it feels “exciting” to how the 22-year-old Clarkson has “shown me a little bit more growth as a basketball player” nearly every game. Yet, it appears Clarkson’s ceilings could have limitations.

“We know he’s going to be on our team next year,” Scott said, referring to Clarkson’s team option for the 2015-16 season worth a relatively inexpensive $845,059. “But we have to add pieces. There’s no doubt about that. I don’t think we necessarily are saying we’re building around him. But we’re adding pieces with him.”
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Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson named Western Conference Rookie of the Month

The Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson, who scored a game-high 26 points, goes up for a shot. matt slocum – the associated press

The Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson, who scored a game-high 26 points, goes up for a shot. matt slocum – the associated press

The NBA has strongly noticed how quickly Lakers rookie guard Jordan Clarkson has grown.

Clarkson was named the NBA’s Western Conference Rookie of the Month for games in March, an honor that makes him the first ever Lakers player to be honored with the award since it was first presented in 1981-82.

“I think it’s great,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “It shows the progress he has made and what a hard work he’s put into it.”

Clarkson averaged a team-leading 15.8 points on 45.2 percent shooting, 5.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds through 16 games in March. Clarkson, whom the Lakers secured through the 46th pick, also secured wins last week in Minnesota (free throws) and Philadelphia (layup). Against the Sixers, Clarkson joined Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Washington’s John Wall and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook as the only players in the NBA this season to post 26 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and three steals in a game. In last week’s loss in Oklahoma City, Clarkson also posted career-highs in points (30) and blocks (three), making him the first Lakers rookie to score 30 points in a game since Eddie Jones achieved the same accomplishment on Feb. 4, 1995.

Overall, Clarkson ranks third among rookies in points per game (10.9), field goal percentage (44.7) and free throw percentage (82.8)

“The game is slowing down for him,” Scott said of Clarkson. “He sees it a little bit clearer now. It’s not such a blur to him. We still have to work on his change of speeds and change of pace at times. But for the most part, we’re seeing plays now that are starting to happen. Earlier in the season, it would happen. But it was over with before we saw what was really going on. Now he has a pretty good grasp of what’s going on. He’s seeing the man when he’s open and he’s delivering the ball at the right time in the right place.”

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 sign Dwight Buycks to a 10-day contract

The Lakers signed 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard Dwight Buycks to fill out their injury-depleted roster.

Lakers coach Byron Scott anticipated Buycks playing in Friday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center only if the team’s backcourt fell into foul trouble. But it seems more likely Buycks will have minutes off the bench beginning Sunday in a designated home game against the Clippers at Staples Center.

Scott professed not to know much about Buycks after he had extensive stops this past both overseas (Valencia Basket of Spanish ACB League, Tianjiin Ronggang of Chinese Basketball Association) and the Development League (Oklahoma City Blue). But Scott said his son, Thomas, the Lakers player development coach, provided plenty of feedback.

“A very solid basketball player and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes,” Scott said. “He defends really well and makes open shots. He does a good job of running the team.”

The Lakers made this move after the NBA approved a hardship exception because of season-ending and long-term injuries to Kobe Bryant (right shoulder), Steve Nash (back), Julius Randle (right leg), Ronnie Price (right elbow), Nick Young (left knee) and Wayne Ellington (right shoulder).

Scott called Buycks “primarily a point guard,” but noted he will also play at shooting guard. The Lakers’ backcourt currently includes Jordan Clarkson, Jeremy Lin and Jabari Brown.

“I’m a hard worker,” Buycks said. “I come out there and do what the coach asks and try to make the guys around me better. I’ll pick and choose when my shot is there. But other than, I’m just about playing tough.”

RELATED:

TWC SportsNet panel discusses Julius Randle’s recovery

TWC SportsNet panel discusses Wayne Ellington’s shoulder injury

Lakers’ Byron Scott downplays being one defeat away from tying last year’s loss total

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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TWC SportsNet panel discusses Julius Randle’s recovery

His NBA rookie debut lasted slightly less than 14 minutes before Julius Randle suffered something that has become uncomfortably familiar with the Lakers.

Randle suffered an injury, a fractured tibia in his right leg that kept him out for the 2014-15 season. Since then, Randle has made some slow and steady progress that has entailed completing non-contact drills for the past three weeks.

Time Warner Cable’s Access SportsNet host Kelli Tennant, analyst Dave Miller and I discussed Randle’s recovery, part of which included his desire to keep learning.

RELATED:

TWC SportsNet panel discusses Wayne Ellington’s shoulder injury

Lakers’ Byron Scott downplays being one defeat away from tying last year’s loss total

Lakers’ Julius Randle embraces learning during lengthy recovery

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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