Magic Johnson raffling off guest visit for 2015 NBA All-Star game to raise money for HIV treatment

Magic Johnson once dished off assists at a prolific rate, knowing that the play would both empower his teammates and largely help the Lakers’ win.

The Lakers’ icon has carried that same approach with his latest initiative. Johnson is holding a raffle that will grant a fan and a friend plenty of prizes for the 2015 NBA All-Star game on Feb. 15, 2015 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. They will watch the All-Star game with Johnson in a VIP suite and have an their plane and hotel travel paid for during a four-day trip to New York City. They will sit VIP for the NBA’s 3-point shooting and dunk contest as well as tickets to Drake’s live performance.

Those funds will then go directly to The Global Fund to finance grants which provide HIV prevention, testing, counseling, treatment and care services in Africa, an initiative that entails Johnson, Coca Cola and OMAZE collaborating.

Nearly 23 years ago, Johnson announced his abrupt retirement from the Lakers after learning he contracted the HIV virus. Since then, Johnson’s self-named foundation has raised money for AIDS and HIV awareness through education, treatment and research, grants, scholarships, clinics and adding mobile testing units.

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Lakers’ Byron Scott takes blame in final call of 107-102 loss to Memphis

Memphis, Tenn. – His dream job became Byron Scott’s to take, the lure of becoming the Lakers’ coach all too enticing after helping cement the franchise’s championship culture during the beloved Showtime Era.

The Lakers are far removed from that time period’s success, but Scott took the position insistent he will lay the foundation toward greatness by adopting a no-nonsense approach that holds people accountable. Apparently, that applies to himself, too.

The Lakers’ 107-102 loss Tuesday to the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum elicited plenty of second guessing on the potential game-tying play. Why did Jordan Hill take a 21-foot jumper when he only finished the game with a 6-of-17 clip. Why did Jeremy Lin pass Hill the ball instead of Bryant? But instead of casting blame on any of those players, Scott pointed the finger inward.

“It was really my fault,” Scott said. “I could’ve given the visual sign as well instead of trying to yell it at him. I take all the blame for that. That’s not what we wanted for that particular time.”
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Lakers’ Wayne Ellington granted indefinite leave of absence after father’s murder

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Lakers granted reserve Wayne Ellington an indefinite leave of absence after his father was shot and killed Sunday night in Philadelphia. It is not currently clear when Ellington will rejoin the Lakers.

“My family and I are devastated by the news of my father’s murder on Sunday night in Philadelphia,” Ellington said in a statement released by the Lakers. “We appreciate everyone’s support and ask that you respect the privacy of our family during this very difficult time.”

Lakers coach Byron Scott said the team, including Ellington, were informed of the news on Sunday night shortly after the team’s win against Charlotte at Staples Center. Ellington’s father was found shot to death inside his car at an intersection, according to a report in the Philadelphia Daily News. Police on Tuesday told the newspaper they have no motive or suspects.

“All of us have to give him space right now to grieve and deal with this with his family,” Scott said before the Lakers (1-5) played Memphis (6-1) here at FedEx Forum. “We’ll welcome him back with open arms when he decides to come back.”

Ellington 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. Ellington grew up outside Philadelphia before starring at North Carolna and having numerous stops in his five-year NBA career, including Minnesota (2009-12), Cleveland (2012-13), Memphis (2012-13), Dallas (2013-14) and the Lakers (2014-15). Ellington has a non-guaranteed deal in the offseason, though $581,692 of his contract locks in if he stays on the roster past Dec. 1.

“This is our livelihood but this is still just a game. What happened to Wayne is real life,” said Scott, who also coached Ellington in Cleveland. “It puts everything int perspective. As a team we’ll keep trying to go on and win games. But every now and then before the game, during the game after the game we’ll have Wayne on our mind.”

“Our players are upset for their friend and teammate,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. “Additionally, ownership and all Lakers employees are also saddened by this tragedy. Those of us who work with and have gotten to know Wayne have come to know what a wonderful and caring person he is. Our hearts go out to Wayne and his family, as do our thoughts and prayers.”

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 defends Kobe Bryant’s shot selection

os Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott, right, talks to Kobe Bryant during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

os Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott, right, talks to Kobe Bryant during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Lakers coach Byron Scott initially sounded annoyed.

Kobe Bryant is on the verge of setting an NBA record for most missed shots in a career, and Scott hardly sounded thrilled with the implications that suggested he is a ball hog. Hence, why Scott politely cut off a reporter who brought up that Bryant enters tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies (6-1) here at FedEx Forum only 13 missed field goals shy of setting the NBA’s all-time record.

“I don’t care about that crap,” Scott said following Lakers’ morning shootaround, which lasted around 90 minutes. “I’m sure he doesn’t either. It speaks of his aggressiveness and longevity.”

Bryant enters his 19th season missing 13,405 shots in 1,251 games, but Scott considers that a worthy investment that has resulted in five NBA championships and a fourth-place standing on the league’s all-time scoring list. Meanwhile, Celtics great John Havlicek holds the NBA record for missed shots (13,417 attempts), but won four NBA championships and finished 13th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list through 16 seasons.

“John was a pretty damn good basketball player back in the day,” Scott said.

Yet, Bryant has rarely escaped criticism regarding his own shot selection. After playing in only six games last season with injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left knee, Bryant has averaged 26.5 points, which ranks second best in the NBA behind Golden State’s Steph Curry (27.7 points per game). But Bryant has also shot a career-low 39.5 percent from the field.

Scott has largely defended Bryant, saying he has taken a large chunk of the Lakers’ shots namely because teammates haven’t matched his aggressiveness. In the Lakers’ 107-92 win on Sunday over Charlotte, Scott believes Jeremy Lin (21 points), Carlos Boozer (16 points), Jordan Hill (12 points) and Ed Davis (12 points) created a more balanced offense because they did not defer to Bryant as much.

“To the people who talk about how many shots he takes and things like that, it’s almost damned if you, damned if you don’t,” Scott said. “In the games he doesn’t take more shots, people ask why didn’t he take more shots. He can’t win either way. That’s unbelievable to me for a guy who gives everything he’s got every single time he’s on the floor. It’s unfortunate. He’s one of the greatest competitors we’ve seen in a long time. I take all that stuff with a grain of salt and he does too because the bottom line with him is championships.”


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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 consider Ryan Kelly as questionable to play vs. Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Though forward Ryan Kelly has traveled with the Lakers on their two-game trip, coach Byron Scott considered his status as questionable to play in tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies here at FedEx Forum.

Kelly has sat out the past week because of tightness in his right hamstring, and the Lakers (1-5) want to stay cautious considering they also play on Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans (3-3) at Smoothie King Center.

“With the back to back schedule, it might be counter productive to put him in there and then expect him to go play him tomorrow,” Scott said. “In my mind, maybe Wednesday night.”

Kelly has only played one game in the 2014-15 season, scoring two points in seven minutes in last week’s loss to Phoenix. Kelly had opened training camp nursing a strain in his left hamstring before suffering an injury to his right hamstring three weeks ago. Kelly averaged eight points during his rookie season on 33.8 percent shooting from three-point range.


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Lakers granted disabled player exception for Julius Randle

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@la

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Lakers granted disabled player exception for Julius Randle

Lakers gather around rookie forward Julius Randle after he broke his leg in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ season-opening loss to the Houston Rockets on Oct. 28 at Staples Center. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)

Lakers gather around rookie forward Julius Randle after he broke his leg in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ season-opening loss to the Houston Rockets on Oct. 28 at Staples Center. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)

The Lakers on Monday were granted a disabled players exception for rookie Julius Randle worth $1.5 million.

The Lakers can use the exception either to sign a free agent or claim a player off waivers for up to $1.5 million, which represents half of Randle’s $3 million salary. The Lakers could also trade for a player that makes up to $1.6 million. Whichever move the Lakers might make, that player could not stay beyond the 2014-15 season. The Lakers filed for the exception shortly after Randle fractured his right tibia in the Lakers season-opening loss two weeks ago against Houston. Although the Lakers expected Randle would miss the season after having surgery the next day, the NBA needed to look at the paperwork surrounding Randle’s surgery.

The Lakers have also filed a disabled player exception for Steve Nash worth $4.9 million, which represents half of his $9.8 million salary. But the NBA has not approved that exception yet, though Nash is also expected to miss the entire 2014-15 season.

The Lakers were granted a $1.8 million disabled player exception for Jordan Hill two years ago after he had surgery on his right hip. But the Lakers did not use the exception.

It is unclear if the Lakers will use their current disabled players exceptions. They have a league-maximum 15 players on their roster, including 13 with fully guaranteed contracts. Guards Ronnie Price and Wayne Ellington have partial guarantees, meaning either or both players would have to be waived to make room.

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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’ Kobe Bryant nearing NBA record for most misses

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant shoots as Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant shoots as Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

By Mark Medina and J.P. Hoornstra

A trend has emerged that highlights both Kobe Bryant’s longevity, prolific play and one area of weakness.

When the Lakers (1-5) visit the Memphis Grizzlies (5-1) Tuesday night at FedEx Forum, Bryant will only need to miss 13 more shots to set the NBA’s all-time record in total misses. John Havlicek currently owns that mark with 13,417 missed shots in 1,270 games. Through 19 NBA seasons Bryant has made plenty of shots and missed a lot of them too, (13,405 in 1,251 games to be exact). The blessing involving Bryant: his five NBA championships and fourth-place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list show his high-volume shooting approach has mostly worked. The curse involving Bryant: his non-stop shooting has created offensive imbalance either through his own impatience or because teammates have deferred to him.

Not that is surprising to Lakers coach Byron Scott, who was a mentor to Bryant during his rookie season he hoisted three consecutive airballs in the Lakers’ playoff loss to Utah.

“We knew about him at that time … that it was going to make him stronger,” Scott said. “It did. He’s come back with a vengeance.”

Yet, these current Lakers have tried to strike the balance between relying on Bryant’s heroics and ensuring the burden does not rest on his scoring. After playing in only six games last season with injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left knee, Bryant has averaged 26.5 points, which ranks second best in the NBA behind Golden State’s Steph Curry (27.7 points per game). But Bryant has also shot a career-low 39.5 percent from the field.

“He still believes he can be the best player in the league every time he steps on the court,” Lakers forward Carlos Boozer said. “He believes he’s the best player on the court. A lot of nights he shows that. You’ve got to give him a lot of credit because it’s hard to do. Kobe makes shots that most guys couldn’t even think about doing. That’s why fans come every night. You might see him do something that night that you’ll never see again in your life. He’s worth the admission price.”
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Lakers’ Nick Young expected to practice next week

Nick Young reacts to seeing the crowd around teammate Kobe Bryant on media day in El Segundo, Calif., on Sep. 29, 2014. The Lakers open their season on Oct. 29 against the Houston Rockets. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images file)

Nick Young reacts to seeing the crowd around teammate Kobe Bryant on media day in El Segundo, Calif., on Sep. 29, 2014. The Lakers open their season on Oct. 29 against the Houston Rockets. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images file)

By Mark Medina and J.P. Hoorsnstra

The Lakers exuded a positive vibe during Monday’s practice, their latest win coinciding with an energetic presence on the practice court.

Lakers forward Nick Young emerged onto the floor, the removed cast that had supported his surgically repaired thumb for the past five weeks allowing him to complete tasks he once enjoyed. Young dribbled between his legs. He hoisted three pointers. Young flashed his signature smile through it all.

But the Lakers will still have to wait before Young will show that in a game. Lakers coach Byron Scott hopes that Young will begin practicing in full contact scrimmaging next week, which coincides with the Lakers’ original timeline that he’d stay out for eight weeks.

The Lakers have sorely missed Young’s prolific offense after averaging last season a team-leading 17.9 points on 43.5 percent shooting.


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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 outline blueprint in 107-92 win over Charlotte

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant shoots as Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant shoots as Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The streamers dropped from the Staples Center rafters. Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.” blared over the loudspeakers. Fans giddily cheered over both receiving free tacos and witnessing a rare Lakers’ win.

But inside the Lakers’ locker room, the reaction over a 107-92 victory Sunday over the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center hardly showed a team excited over ending their five-game losing streak.

Kobe Bryant offered clipped answers with a stoic demeanor. Jeremy Lin seemed more relieved when his press conference ended, which always attracts a crush of overseas reporters. Carlos Boozer didn’t even bother emerging at his locker room to bask in the win. Lakers coach Byron Scott sounded as businesslike in his first victory as the team’s head coach as he did when the team had its worst start in franchise history in 57 years.

“Nobody was overjoyed in there,” Scott said. “From a standpoint of being [ticked] off and wanting to get a win because of what our record is, it was nice. But other than that, it’s no more than any other win.”

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Lakers’ Ryan Kelly still considered doubtful to play Sunday vs. Charlotte

Lakers forwad Ryan Kelly is considered doubtful to play Sunday vs. Charlotte because of tightness in his right hamstring.

Lakers coach Byron Scott said Kelly participated for most of Sunday’s morning shootaround, except for the walk-through session. The Lakers also sat Kelly for most of the past two practices after playing seven minutes in a loss Tuesday to Phoenix. But Scott plans for Kelly to practice on Monday in hopes that he will play in the Lakers’ two-game trip with stops in Memphis (Tuesday) and New Orleans (Wednesday).

“We put together three straight days where it feels better and it hasn’t gone backwards,” Scott said. “That’s a good sign.”

Kelly has played in only one game after staying sidelined with overlapping injuries to his left and right hamstrings. Kelly spent his rookie season averaging eight points on 33.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

Scott also said that Lakers forward Nick Young will have his right thumb examined on Monday in hopes. He has stayed sidelined for the past six weeks because of a right thumb injury that required surgery, but he has participated in conditioning drills and has dribbled and shot with his left hand. In recent weeks, Young has worn what Scott called a “soft cast.”

“My understanding is he can start dribbling and passing. They didn’t say anything about shooting, but I don’t think that’s going to go away with him,” Scott said, laughing. “I think he’ll be able to pick up on that pretty soon.”

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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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