Nuggets’ Brian Shaw believes Kobe Bryant more willing to facilitate than play reduced minutes

Kobe Bryant has missed nearly the entire 2013-14 season. His return to health is key to the Lakers' immediate future. But it's anyone's guess whether he can overcome the latest injuries and be effictive again. Photo by David Crane/Staff Photographer

Kobe Bryant has missed nearly the entire 2013-14 season. His return to health is key to the Lakers’ immediate future. But it’s anyone’s guess whether he can overcome the latest injuries and be effictive again. Photo by David Crane/Staff Photographer

So many question marks surround Kobe Bryant’s season-ending injury to his left shoulder, and none of them will seem clear until he presumably returns for the 2015-16 season.

But Nuggets coach Brian Shaw has unique insight, his relationship with Bryant staying strong after working with him on the Lakers both as a player (1999-2003) and an assistant coach under Phil Jackson (2005-2011).

Shaw initially sensed the difficulty it would become in Lakers coach Byron Scott restricting minutes to Bryant. With Bryant suffering his third major injury for the third consecutive season, would be more inclined to play with more restrictions in his 20th NBA season?

“No. His competitive nature is always going to come out,” Shaw said. “He’s going to want to be out there on the floor when it matters and to make a difference.”

Scott has said he would like to play Bryant in the 20-minute range and sit him on back-to-backs after averaging 35.4 minutes per game this season. Bryant also sat in eight of the final 16 games before his injury to rest.

But instead of adopting that approach, Shaw sensed Bryant will become more of a facilitator. He took on that role later in the season, but he initially carried a large role. Hence, that explains why Bryant averaged 22.3 points on a career-low 37.3 percent shooting.

“He’s always had a willingness to do it. But his patience is short when he’s trying to facilitate and other guys aren’t hitting shots,” Shaw said. “I know that better than anybody does. If he comes out and is in a mode where he’s passing and trying to get everybody else involved and their shots aren’t falling, he’s going to stop passing and he’s going to do what he needs to do to keep his team in contention.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott argues Jim Buss “has done a great job”

Lakers head coach Byron Scott finds himsel in a similar situation to the one he experience before as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Lakers take on Caves Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on ABC. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)

Lakers head coach Byron Scott finds himsel in a similar situation to the one he experience before as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Lakers take on Caves Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on ABC. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)

Lakers coach Byron Scott chuckled when Magic Johnson’s name was mentioned.

“That’s my boy,” Scott said with smile after winning all three of his NBA championships with Johnson during the Lakers’ “Showtime Era.”

But Scott respectfully disagreed with Johnson’s persistent criticism on Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss.

“I’ve been very happy with Jim. I think Jim has done a great job,” Scott said after morning shootaround on Tuesday. “I think he obviously put us in a position this summer to do some good things. It just depends on if we can get those things done this summer, obviously. But being around him as much as I have this past six or seven months, personally I like him and professionally I think he’s doing all the right things right now. The bottom line is once this season is all said and done, I think everybody in Lakerland knows that this is a big summer and it could be a very great summer as well for us.”
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Magic Johnson questions Jim Buss’ ability to rebuild Lakers

Magic Johnson emerged back onto the airwaves to talk about the state of the Lakers. So of course that meant the Lakers legend would continue his years-long criticism of Jim Buss, the Lakers’ the vice president of basketball operations.

“This summer has to be the biggest summer of Jim Buss’ life,” Johnson said on Tuesday on ESPN’s First Take. “Now you’re starting to lose the fan base. If he doesn’t have a big summer with a free agent, it looks like they’ll have a good draft pick. Put that together with a good free agent, you can be right back into the mix. If this summer, that doesn’t happen where they can sign a great player, it’s over for us.”

The Lakers have hardly lived through happy times recently. The Lakers (13-38) enter Tuesday’s game against the Denver Nuggets (19-33) at Staples Center losing 13 of their past 14 games and are destined to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season and the seventh time in franchise history. The Lakers are also on pace to finish with their worst season in franchise history.

Yet, the Lakers could face a much better summer than last year after striking out on LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony while Pau Gasol also left via free agency.

The Lakers will keep their first-round draft pick from the Steve Nash trade three years ago if the selection lands within the top five. They will have a mid first-round pick stemmed from the Jeremy Lin trade. The Lakers expect rookie forward Julius Randle to recover fully from a fractured right leg that kept him out for the year following the the season opener. The Lakers expect Kobe Bryant to fully recover from right shoulder surgery after playing only 35 games this season. The Lakers also have cap flexibility to sign a marquee free agent at a maximum-level contract, including Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Goran Dragic or Rajon Rondo.

“We must get be back and relevant and sign a good free agent, get a good draft pick and send Kobe out the right way,” Johnson said. “The Lakers can get back in the mix, but the West is so tough. That’s the problem. The West is just so good. There’s going to be two teams over .500 that won’t make the playoffs. For Jim Buss, this is a big year for him and for the fanbase too in believing in him and trusting him. He can gain the trust back if he has a good summer.”
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Wayne Ellington sheds positive light on just-concluded road trip

Wayne Ellington

Wayne Ellington/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Lakers, NBA.com

 

Guard Wayne Ellington on Monday at practice was asked if he took anything positive out of the Lakers’ just-concluded four-game Grammy road trip, in which the Lakers lost all four games. They did, however, take Milwaukee and Orlando into overtime. A positive sort, Ellington answered in the affirmative

“Yeah, there were a few postitives, definitely, we took out of the trip, especially in those overtime games,” Ellington said. “Unfortunately, obviously we didn’t pull them out. But at the same time, young group, we’re still learning. We took some positives away.”

Moments before Ellington spoke to reporters, coach Byron Scott mentioned Ellington as someone who has proven himself on the court. That appeared to be music to Ellington’s ears.

“I just feel like I’m taking every game like it’s an experience, an opportunity that I’m thankful for and trying to make the most of it,” Ellington said. “Trying to leave it all out there on the floor, man. With that, I’ve had some success.”

Ellington has raised his season scoring average to 9.0 after averaging 11.8 points in January and 12.0 so far in February. He is shooting just 35.7 percent in the four games this month, but he shot 45.8 percent from the field in January.

Ellington, 27, also plays very hard and seems to bring a lot of energy to the team.

 

 

 

 

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Lakers’ Byron Scott frustrated with Nick Young’s technical fouls

Lakers head coach Byron Scott finds himsel in a similar situation to the one he experience before as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Lakers take on Caves Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on ABC. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)

Lakers head coach Byron Scott finds himself in a similar situation to the one he experience before as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Lakers take on Caves Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on ABC. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND — As the losses keep piling up and Nick Young’s play continues to plummet, it seems safe to say that Lakers coach Byron Scott has addressed him as “Nicholas” with more frequency.

Scott calls Young by his first name anytime he becomes upset with his charismatic and high-volume shooting forward. There seemed plenty for to agitate Scott regarding Young’s play in the Lakers’ 120-105 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena.

Scott excused Young’s eight-point effort on 3-of-10 shooting as a cold he has fought with in recent days. But Scott expressed irritation over Young picking up a technical foul with 4:16 left in the second quarter after arguing with an official over a non-foul instead of sprinting back on defense. That marks Young’s fifth technical foul of the season.

“That’s why I took him right out,” Scott said. “He has to learn to keep his composure a lot better than that. That’s something I expect from someone who is 21, 22 years old, not someone who’s been in the league for seven or eight years.”
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Lakers mourn Dean Smith’s passing

CLEVELAND — The Lakers offered various tributes to the former North Carolina coach Dean Smith, who died on Saturday at 83.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak played for Smith when he starred with the Tarhells from 1972-76, a campaign that entailed winning ACC player of the year honors his senior year. Kupchak also starred on the 1976 U.S. Men’s national Olympic team that won gold.

“Coach Smith was one of the most influential people in my life, and his passing brings me great sadness,” Kupchak said in a statement released by the Lakers. “However, he was a great man and someone I loved and respected greatly, and I celebrate the fact that I knew him and had him in my life for as long as I did. His influence on my life didn’t end when I left Chapel Hill, as he was a trusted and valuable advisor to me when I became a player, then an executive in the NBA. He had a hugely positive impact on the lives of hundreds of young men who were lucky enough to call him Coach, and I was blessed to be among them.”

Meanwhile, Lakers coach Byron Scott called Smith “one of the best college coaches and one of the best coaches period” after winning two national championships with the Tarheels. Former Lakers forward James Worthy played on Smiths’ 1982 NCAA national championship team.

“Just listening to some of the things that James Worthy used to say about him as a coach and a mentor and friend, that’s what he was for most of the players that he had,” Scott said. “He wasn’t only a coach. He was a father figure and friend. Obviously the basketball world is missing a great man.”


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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 dismisses tanking, reiterates patience in rebuild

"Lakers Coach Byron Scott talks to the crowd before the tipoff. The Lakers played the Houston Rockets in the opening game of the 2014-2015 Season.  Los Angeles, CA. 10/28/2014 (Photo by John McCoy Daily News )"

“Lakers Coach Byron Scott talks to the crowd before the tipoff. The Lakers played the Houston Rockets in the opening game of the 2014-2015 Season. Los Angeles, CA. 10/28/2014 (Photo by John McCoy Daily News )”

ORLANDO — Lakers coach Byron Scott sat comfortably on a chair alongside Amway Center, entertaining questions on the horizon surrounding free agency and how that could bolster the franchise.

But a key part of the rebuilding process could play out when the Lakers (13-36) visit the Orlando Magic (15-37) on Friday at Amway Center. In what otherwise serves as a forgettable game for two teams destined to miss the playoffs, the outcome could play a big part in determining the Lakers’ standing in the 2015 NBA Draft. The Lakers have the league’s fourth-worst record, but they need a top-five pick to avoid trading their draft selection to the Phoenix Suns as part of the Steve Nash deal. The Magic have the fifth worst record and just fired off coach Jacque Vaughn amid a 10-game losing streak.

“I never look at bottoming out. I never look at losing. It’s a bad omen that you try to send a message to lose games to get the very best pick you can get. You still try to go out there and win basketball games, ” Scott said on Friday at morning shootaround at Amway Center. “If you’re not good enough that particular night, then you lose, so be it. To go out there and deliberately try to lose games to get a better pick, that backfires on you.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott still intends to play Carlos Boozer, Ed Davis off the bench

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott looks on in the second half during an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, in Salt Lake City. The Jazz won 94-85. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott looks on in the second half during an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, in Salt Lake City. The Jazz won 94-85. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

ORLANDO – At a time when the Lakers have put a higher priority on developing young players in an otherwise lost season, Lakers coach Byron Scott suddenly flipped the script.

Scott turned to veteran reserves Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis to carry them to victory. The Lakers did not satisfy that result, a 113-105 overtime loss on Wednesday to the Milwaukee Bucks adding to a blemished 13-36 record. But both Boozer and Davis delivered. While Boozer posted a team-leading 28 points on 13-of-21 shooting, Davis became the ninth Lakers player in the past 20 years to grab 20 rebounds in a game.

Both Davis and Boozer made a compelling case to return to the starting lineup with Jordan Hill nursing a strained right hip flexor that could keep him out through the NBA All-Star break. Yet, Scott maintained things will remain status quo beginning when the Lakers (13-36) visit the Orlando Magic (15-37) on Friday at Amway Center. While third-year center Robert Sacre and rookie forward Tarik Black will start, Boozer and Davis will come off the bench.

“I like that combination and they play together,” Scott said. “There’s an argument for everything. I don’t pay a lot of attention to that. I like the way they play together. Both of them off the bench provide us with something special.”
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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, NBC’s Jimmy Fallon recall making a beer run

Kobe Bryant emerged out of the dark as he spent the past week recovering from the pain and medication surrounding a recent surgery on his right shoulder.

But this was not a time for Bryant to reflect on his injury that currently requires him wearing a sling to protect his shoulder. Or for Bryant to lament the Lakers’ current struggles. Or for him to provide optimism on the future bout about the Lakers’ rebuilding and his own recovery.

Bryant appeared Wednesday night on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” where the two reflected on how they both made an interesting beer run at a party back when they first emerged in their respective field and just settled in Los Angeles.

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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: “There’s nothing like being a villain”

Photo courtesy of Nike

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant says in a recent Nike podcast that “there’s nothing like being a villain.” Photo courtesy of Nike

Kobe Bryant has never become happier than on the day he has held up the NBA’s Larry O-Brien trophy.

It has happened five days in his life, culminating five successful seasons that proved good enough for Bryant to add another ring to his fingers. But Bryant remains unsatisfied not just because he has not won more. Or that the outlook on Bryant’s championship prospects seem bleak considering the Lakers’ 13-35 record and his season-ending right shoulder injury that required surgery. Bryant also would love to win an NBA championship by securing a Game 7 victory with a game-winning shot in an opposing team’s arena.

Why?

“There’s nothing like being a villain,” Bryant said in a recent podcast with Nike to promote his “Kobe X” shoes that will become available on Feb. 7.

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