Kobe Bryant suggests Kevin Durant can improve “mental aspect” of game during injury

In this file photo, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) talks during a foul shot in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, March 5, 2013. Oklahoma City won 122-105. (Sue Ogrocki/The Associated Press)

In this file photo, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) talks during a foul shot in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, March 5, 2013. Oklahoma City won 122-105. (Sue Ogrocki/The Associated Press)

ONTARIO – Their star player went down for a significant chunk of time, adding serious doubts toward whether the team can still stay afloat amid a competitive Western Conference.

That appropriately described Kobe Bryant when he tore his left Achilles on April 13, 2013, an injury that sidelined him for eight months and shattered the Lakers’ slim championship hopes. The same thing just happened to Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, who is expected to stay out for two months because of a fracture in his right foot.

Bryant and Durant have always had mutual admiration for one another. So much that Durant shared in an interview with this newspaper last season that the two frequently talk on the phone during ungodly hours. Then, the conversations usually center on Bryant sharing wisdom to Durant.

“It’s tough. He’s gotta be patient.and do what you can in the interim and study the game and try to improve the mental aspect of it,” Bryant said. “That’s what I already tried to do when I was out and come back a better player.”

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Ronnie Price on shoe incident: “I thought that would stop the play”

ONTARIO — The Lakers will seemingly go through a never-ending process. They will watch film of their previous game. Lakers coach Byron Scott will highlight all the defensive miscues that range from pick-and-roll coverage, transition defense and closing out on the perimeter. The Lakers will discuss the issues, and hope that improved effort and understanding will fix this issue.

But as the Lakers demonstrated in their 116-75 preseason loss Sunday to the Golden State Warriors at Citizens Business Bank Arena, they appear light years away from ever reaching that ideal. Things turned so badly that even Lakers veteran guard Ronnie Price drew a technical foul for throwing his shoe at Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala.

Price may have said facetiously he was “just trying to get it out of bounds.” But he then became pretty honest on why he would throw his shoe after it slipped off during an unsuccessful drive to the basket.

“I was just trying to stop the ball as fast as possible,” Price said. “The shoe was in my hand so I thought that would stop the play.”

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Lakers’ Byron Scott reports Steve Nash “didn’t quite feel right”

 Steve Nash, left, of the Los Angeles Lakers, looks to make a pass as Klay Thompson, center, and Stephen Curry, of the Golden State Warriors, defend on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif. Lakers lost to the Warrios, 116-75. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

Steve Nash, left, of the Los Angeles Lakers, looks to make a pass as Klay Thompson, center, and Stephen Curry, of the Golden State Warriors, defend on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif. Lakers lost to the Warrios, 116-75. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

ONTARIO — After spending the past summer repairing his high performance engine that has operated on too many miles, Lakers guard Steve Nash already appears in need of a tuneup.

Lakers coach Byron Scott reported Nash telling him before the Lakers’ 116-75 preseason loss on Sunday to the Golden State Warriors at Citizens Business Bank Arena that he “didn’t quite feel right.” It seemed Nash’s instincts proved correct after posting three points on 0 of 5 shooting and one assist through the first quarter.

“He wanted to play and give it a try after the first quarter,” Scott said. “But he said, ‘Coach, I’m done.’”

When asked what made Nash’s health worsen, Scott said, “you’d have to ask him.” But Nash did not speak to reporters. He entered the media work room during the waning minutes of the Lakers’ loss to Golden State and grabbed a cup of tea.

Nash played in only 15 games last season because of persisting nerve root irritation in his back and hamstrings. Nash has said during training camp that he feels completely healthy after spending the past summer both healing the nerve damage and training without any restrictions. Nash had not suffered any major injury besides turning his left ankle during a practice last week. He also only missed the Lakers’ preseason game last Thursday to Golden State for rest purposes.


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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’ Ronnie Price throws shoe, draws technical vs. Warriors

ONTARIO –The Lakers’ defense looked so atrocious on Sunday against the Golden State Warriors that it wouldn’t be surprising if it prompted Lakers fans to throw things at their television screen.

It seems Lakers guard Ronnie Price feels the same way. Moments after losing his right shoe on a drive, Price appeared to throw the shoe at Warriors forward Andre Iguodala to stop the fast-break. Price’s action certainly stopped play, but it was so the officials could give Price a technical foul with 8:50 left in the second quarter.

Price is on a non-guaranteed contract with the Lakers, but has taken a larger role because of injuries to Jeremy Lin (left ankle) and Jordan Clarkson (strained left calf). The Lakers also signed the 11-year NBA veteran because of uncertainty whether 40-year-old point guard Steve Nash could stay healthy after only playing 15 games last season because of recurring nerve damage in his back and hamstrings.


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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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Kobe Bryant & Steve Nash in, Jeremy Lin out vs. Golden State

ONTARIO – Thankfully for the Lakers, these games don’t count. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they are already dealing with a issue that plagued them in past seasons.

Injuries. Lots of them.

Lakers guard Jeremy Lin will sit out of the Lakers’ preseason game tonight against the Golden State Warriors at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario a day after spraining his left ankle in Saturday’s practice.

Although Lakers coach Byron Scott described Lin as “walking gingerly,” he could be seen walking in an arena hallway pretty slowly. Lin joins a heavy cast of players already sidelined, including Jordan Clarkson (left calf muscle), Nick Young (right thumb), Ryan Kelly (left hamstring) and Xavier Henry (back spasms). But the Lakers arent’ completely devastated. After all, both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash will suit up against the Warriors.

“In early exhibition season, you want to see as many guys as you can,” Scott said. “I’m not really worried about it. But unfortunately for Jeremy and unfortunately for Nick, it gives other guys an opportunity. I really don’t look at this as unfortunate unless it lasts longer.”

The absence of both Lin and Clarkson will likely result in extended minutes for NBA veteran guard Ronnie Price. Although Nash will play after resting on Thursday against Golden State, it seems unlikely he will play beyond his low 20-minute range because of the Lakers’ ongoing efforts to preserve their 40-year-old point guard.

Lin has impressed the Lakers with his playmaking and quick improvement. After shooting 0-of-6 in the Lakers’ preseason win last week to Denver, Lin followed up with a 14-point performance on 4-of-4 shooting against the Warriors. He has also averaged seven assists through two exhibition games.

“I’m very encouraged,” Scott said. “He attacked the basket like we know he can and made some shots. HE passed the ball well and ran the offense well. I was very happy.”

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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Nick Young returns to first practice since suffering injury

On first glance, Nick Young appeared his usual self shooting on the court. Except that was shooting and dribbling with his left hand as his right hand was in a sling.

It was Young’s first appearance since tearing the radial collateral ligament in his thumb guarding Kobe Bryant. He later joined the team for sprints at the end of practice as Byron Scott said it was encouraging to see him run despite the sling. Continue reading

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Jeremy Lin suffers sprained ankle in practice

It seems like the Lakers’ injury woes continued to get worse as Jeremy Lin suffered a sprained left ankle during practice and will be re-evaluated for tomorrow’s game against Golden State.

Lakers coach Byron Scott said Lin suffered the injury during 5-on-5 workouts after being stepped on by Robert Sacre. He was able to walk off the court on his own power but was in pain.

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Lakers, Kobe Bryant host visit for wheel chair basketball player

For all the limitations she has experienced staying confined in a wheel chair, 16-year-old Erica Wilson sure knows how to get around.

She was diagnosed four years ago with a neurological disorder that has permanently prevented her from walking. But Wilson soon joined a wheelchair basketball team with the “Lakeshore Lakers” in Birmingham, Alabama, a place where she found her life’s passion and an outlet to tell her story. First, Gatorade profiled Wilson as part of the sports drink company’s “Win from Within” series. Shortly after, Wilson spent her Friday with the Lakers, watching their morning shootaround at their practice facility in El Segundo, chatting with Kobe Bryant and coach Byron Scott and then presenting the game ball before the Lakers’ loss to Golden State at Staples Center.

It all has become what Wilson describes as an “overwhelming” experience, somehow finding something so inspirational and positive toward something that could have proven devastating to others.

“If I had to choose between being able to walk and playing wheel chair basketball,” Wilson said. “I’m probably going to choose playing wheelchair basketball. It’s more important to me than walking. Walking doesn’t make you who you are as a person. The experience I learned form playing wheelchair basketball defines who I am as a person.”

In a weird sort of way, Bryant offered a similar story. He shared how he immediately knew he wanted to become a professional basketball player at age five, giving him a clear purpose on his goals and how he should pursue them. Wilson took dance classes before suffering transverse myelitis, but described the experience as “casual,” her passion undiscovered until she began playing wheelchair basketball.


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Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson out at least a week with moderate strained left calf muscle

The Lakers have managed to keep Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash healthy thus far, two significant pieces that spent most of last season laboring in the trainer’s room. But the Lakers continue to see their supporting cast seemingly dwindling by the day.

The latest involves Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson, who is expected to stay sidelined for at least a week after being diagnosed Friday morning with a moderate strain in his left calf muscle. This timetable would keep Clarkson out for the Lakers’ preseason games on Sunday against Golden State in Ontario and on Thursday against the Utah Jazz in Anaheim.

Clarkson left late in the second quarter of the Lakers’ eventual 120-105 loss Thursday to Golden State at Staples Center. The Lakers have become encouraged about Clarkson after drafting him with the 46th overall pick. He is expected to play a large reserve role both at the point and shooting guard spots, though Lakers coach Byron Scott recently said Clarkson could improve his shot selection. Clarkson has averaged 10.5 points albeit on 25 percent shooting through two preseason games.

The Lakers are already thin at the small forward position with injuries to Nick Young (surgically repaired right thumb), Ryan Kelly (strained left hamstring) and Xavier Henry (back spasms). The Lakers also rested Steve Nash on Thursday against Golden State and hope to rest Kobe Bryant at some point during the preseason.

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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Kobe Bryant pushing Jeremy Lin to thrive defensively

"New Los Angeles Lakers player Jeremy Lin talks about the upcoming season before signing autographs for fans at a shoe store in Culver City, CA on Thursday, September 25, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze) "

“New Los Angeles Lakers player Jeremy Lin talks about the upcoming season before signing autographs for fans at a shoe store in Culver City, CA on Thursday, September 25, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze) “

The workload for Jeremy Lin seems as heavy as any advanced course he took at Harvard.

His first assignment entails Lin pushing to thrive defensively so the Lakers can significantly improve a problem that has plagued them in recent seasons. Lin’s professor involves Kobe Bryant, the Lakers’ star who has said he continuously pushes Lin into becoming that elite defensive stopper. Lin’s grade remains far from certain, the Lakers’ 120-105 preseason loss on Thursday to the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center revealing their defensive issues are far more complex than simply blaming former coach Mike D’Antoni.

“Jeremy’s biggest challenge, which he loves, is I’m really going to challenge him to be a great defensive player because he can,” Bryant said. “He has the speed. He has the length. He has the size. But he’s never had to take on that challenge to be a great defensive player.”
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