Lakers’ Nick Young to resume running on Friday

Nick Young’s public mood has not soured since having surgery this week on his torn ligament in his right thumb, an injury the Lakers expect will keep him sidelined for the two months. But perhaps Young’s mood will change on Friday when the Lakers will clear him to resume running drills.

“I think he’s hiding,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I’ll get him tomorrow.”

Three days lapsed between Young injured his thumb last Thursday to when he had surgery on Monday, prompting Scott to include Young in defensive and conditioning drills since they did not involve him using his right hand.

Scott reported the Lakers’ training staff telling him Young could begin practicing in about five weeks while wearing a device to protect his thumb.

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Byron Scott plans to ramp up workload when Nick Young returns

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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Byron Scott likely to start Jeremy Lin, rest Steve Nash vs. Warriors

New Laker Jeremy Lin talks about the upcoming season before signing autographs for fans at a shoe store in Culver City. SCOTT VARLEY — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

New Laker Jeremy Lin talks about the upcoming season before signing autographs for fans at a shoe store in Culver City. SCOTT VARLEY — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

A development has emerged that has all become way too familiar for the Lakers as they labored through recently injury-plagued seasons.

Lakers coach Byron Scott said he is “thinking” about sitting out Steve Nash for tonight’s game against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center. But Scott maintained Nash has not experienced any additional injuries after starting in the Lakers’ 98-95 preseason win over Denver in San Diego and posting 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting and five assists in 20 minutes.

“Just to be more cautious,” Scott said after the Lakers’ morning shootaround on Thursday at the team’s facility in El Segundo. “He’s been going hard for seven and eight days straight.”

Scott also brought up the possibility he will sit Kobe Bryant for the Lakers’ preseason game against Golden State on Sunday in Ontario for the same reason. Although Scott said his lineup decision is “not set in stone,” it appears likely Jeremy Lin will have the starting nod tonight against Golden State. Scott also said veteran guard Ronnie Price will play after sitting out of the Lakers’ preseason opener against Denver.

“He seems to be able to thrive when given an opportunity,” Scott said. “He’s going to get an opportunity. There will be times he starts like tonight could be one of those nights. There’s going to be nights he’s coming off the bench playing 20-something minutes. I think he’s ready to be honest with you. His role doesn’t change if he’s starting or not. His role will be the same.”
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Can Carlos Boozer have bounce back season with Lakers?

"Lakers host their annual Media Day in El Segundo, CA. Monday September 29, 2014.  (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)"

“Lakers host their annual Media Day in El Segundo, CA. Monday September 29, 2014. (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)”

No matter how much Carlos Boozer gushes about the 90-degree weather he has enjoyed thus far in Los Angeles, there’s another more tangible explanation on why moving out here has become a far warmer experience than being in Chicago.

Boozer is just a season removed from sitting out for most fourth quarters because of concerns over his defensive deficiencies. The Bulls then waived Boozer through the amnesty provision. That backdrop may have the hurt the pride of a two-time All-Star and Beijing Olympic medalist. But Boozer has maintained he will forget about that chapter and ensure his time with the Lakers becomes a more pleasurable experience.

“Chicago’s in the rear view, they’re off and running, we’re off and running, so that’s all behind us, Boozer said following practice on Wednesday at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. “But moving forward, I just love what I’m doing here in LA.”
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Byron Scott plans to ramp up workload when Nick Young returns

"Lakers host their annual Media Day in El Segundo, CA. Monday September 29, 2014.  (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)"

“Lakers host their annual Media Day in El Segundo, CA. Monday September 29, 2014. (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)”

A cast stayed wrapped around Nick Young’s right hand as he sat at the scorer’s table. He watched the Lakers practice on Wednesday at the team’s facility in El Segundo, knowing he’d stay sidelined for the next two months. Yet, Scott still stayed positive, his vibrant smile still there as he conversed with teammates afterwards.

Perhaps the only thing unusual entailed Young respectfully declined to talk to reporters, saying “I’m on medication.” But everything else? Young still showed an even-keel demeanor that defines the “Swaggy P” persona. Could anything damper his happy mood?

“I’ll have to shoot him,” Lakers coach Byron Scott joked. “That might not even work. I think that’s permanent.”

Perhaps. But maybe Young’s behavior will change once he returns to practice on Friday. Scott tried forcing Young to participate on Wednesday in defensive and running drills, just as he did for two days after tearing a ligament in his right thumb last Thursday. But Young informed Scott that Lakers trainer Gary Vitti has advised he sit out for now.

“I think he’s pretty happy about it,” Scott said. “But in the long ruin, I’m going to get the last laugh. So it’s going to be happy days for me.”

So will Scott double his workload once Young returns to practice on Friday?

“We have to get him back in shape,” Scott said with a smile. “He’s missed a few days. I told him we can’t let him go backwards. We can’t let that stamina lose. We have to get it back.”

After having surgery on Monday, Young is expected to miss the Lakers’ remaining seven exhibition games and first 14 regular-season contests. According to the Lakers’ initial timetable, Young could return as early as Nov. 26 when the Lakers host the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center.

The Lakers are already thin at the small forward spot with injuries to Wesley Johnson (left knee), Ryan Kelly (strained left hamstring) and Xavier Henry (back spasms). Johnson participated in all of Wednesday’s practice and is expected to start when the Lakers host the Golden State Warriors on Thursday at Staples Center. Kelly will likely practice beginning Thursday, while Henry has stayed confined to shooting drills.

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Lakers’ Jeremy Lin making an impact beyond box score

Kobe Bryant’s back on court for Lakers in exhibition opener

Lakers project Nick Young sidelined for eight weeks after thumb surgery

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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Byron Scott wants Lakers to stay physical, decrease fouling

"Lakers Head Coach Byron Scott at the LA Lakers annual Media Day in El Segundo, CA. Monday September 29, 2014.  (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)"

“Lakers Head Coach Byron Scott at the LA Lakers annual Media Day in El Segundo, CA. Monday September 29, 2014. (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)”

As he begins his season-long quest toward building the Lakers back up to prosperity, coach Byron Scott has narrowed his focus on one specific thing.

Defense. Defense. Defense

He has devoted most of his training camp drills toward that end of the floor. It has become noticeable that his players have suddenly talked about that concept even when discussing other parts of the game. Scott has even said he wants his team to finish at least among the NBA’s top 15 in total defense after finishing last season near the bottom in almost every statistical category.

Yet, as the Lakers discovered in their 98-95 victory Monday over the Denver Nuggets in San Diego, the team’s enhanced physical presence correlated into a lot of whistles. The Lakers may have held Denver to a 38.7 percent clip from the field. But the Lakers tallied 34 fouls and awarded the Nuggets 44 free-throw attempts.

“We have to do a much better job playing defense without fouling,” Scott said.

Yet, both Scott and Kobe Bryant predicted that goal will not happen right away. In fact, they believe the Lakers will go through inevitable growing pains while referees adjust toward how they play. Scott anticipates that opponents will shoot around 37 free throws per game in at least the next three or four exhibitions, including when the Lakers host the Golden State Warriors Thursday at Staples Center.

“Once we get that established, the referees will know we’re going to play a physical brand of basketball,” Scott said. “Then some of those things will go away.”

But not everything.

The Lakers still only outrebounded the Nuggets, 45-43, and conceded 13 offensive boards. Denver also shot 8-of-16 from three-point range. Scott also reported that his weakside defenders took an awful long time toward rotating on help defense once Denver beat them at the top of the key on pick-and-rolls, leaving the Nuggets with plenty of room to operate on middle penetration.

Hence, why Scott graded the Lakers’ preseason opener with an A for effort and a C+/B- for actual execution.

“We want to be a physical defensive team. Sometimes you have to play that way and have refs understand you play that way,” Bryant said. “Then the rep becomes that you’re a physical team and you put bodies on bodies. It might be a little ugly and might have a lot of fouls. But that’s the style we want to play.”

RELATED:

Lakers’ Byron Scott stressing defense, but will it pay off?


Lakers’ Jeremy Lin making an impact beyond box score


Kobe Bryant’s back on court for Lakers in exhibition opener

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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Byron Scott plans to keep minutes for Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash consistent

File photo: Los Angeles Lakers guards Kobe Bryant, left, and Steve Nash confer during a break in action in the fourth quarter of the Denver Nuggets' 126-114 victory over the Lakers in an NBA game in Denver on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. (David Zalubowski/AP File Photo)

File photo: Los Angeles Lakers guards Kobe Bryant, left, and Steve Nash confer during a break in action in the fourth quarter of the Denver Nuggets’ 126-114 victory over the Lakers in an NBA game in Denver on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. (David Zalubowski/AP File Photo)

No matter how much Kobe Bryant or Steve Nash may have dazzled Lakers coach Byron Scott, he pledged he would stay firm on staying strict with their playing time.

The Lakers’ 98-95 preseason victory Monday against the Denver Nuggets at San Diego’s Valley View Casino Center featured plenty of promising signs from Bryant and Nash after combining for only 21 games last season amid overlapping injuries. Bryant posted 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting and five assists in 21 minutes, while Nash finished with 11 points on a 4-of-8 clip and five assists in 20 minutes.

So how will Scott play Bryant and Nash when the Lakers host the Golden State Warriors Thursday at Staples Center?

“It’s going to be this way that they played last night for a few games,” Scott said following Tuesday’s practice.
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Lakers downplay Wesley Johnson’s left knee injury

SAN DIEGO – As if the Lakers could afford more injuries.

Lakers forward Wesley Johnson suffered a patellar tendon strain in left knee in the team’s 98-95 preseason victory on Monday over the Denver Nuggets here at Valley View Casino Center. This may have heightened concern considering the Lakers are thin at the small forward spot with Nick Young (torn ligament in right thumb), Ryan Kelly (strained left hamstring) and Xavier Henry (back spasms). But the Lakers generally downplayed the injury with Johnson saying his “knee buckled.”

Lakers coach Byron Scott said the initial diagnosis suggests a “little tendinitis,” though the Lakers will further evaluate during Tuesday’s practice.

“It’ll be a little sore,” Scott said. But there’s nothing that can stop him from playing.”
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Kobe Bryant thrives in post in preseason opener vs. Denver

Kobe Bryant makes a no-look pass around the Denver Nuggets’ Timofey Mozgov, left, during Monday’s preseason opener. LENNY IGNELZI — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Kobe Bryant makes a no-look pass around the Denver Nuggets’ Timofey Mozgov, left, during Monday’s preseason opener. LENNY IGNELZI — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SAN DIEGO — Once Kobe Bryant stepped on the court here at the Valley View Court Casino, he did not wow any fans with any spectacular theatrics.

OK, so his mere presence and starting lineup introduction sparked the 10,108 Lakers fans to cheer him with with the same intensity as a playoff game. But Bryant didn’t follow that up with any jaw-dropping plays that made you wonder how he defied gravity.

Instead, Bryant followed up on a hiccup that entailed an airballed jumper near the top of the key with a vintage performance that will serve a blueprint on how he will try to play out at least the two years remaining on his contract. The Lakers’ 98-95 preseason victory over the Denver Nuggets featured Bryant scoring 13 points on 5 of 12 shooting and dishing out five assists in 21 minutes, all mostly off of the Lakers’ star primarily operating in the post.

“I’ve always played that way,” Bryant pointed out afterwards, his experience with Phil Jackson’s triangle offense through all those championship runs allowing him to operate on muscle memory. It seemed fitting Bryant would make his formal introduction under Byron Scott’s offense in front of two of Jackson’s former assistants in Brian Shaw (the Nuggets’ head coach) and Frank Hamblen (a San Diego residence). But it took Bryant seven seconds or less to show he will play much different than Mike D’Antoni’s system that he eventually grew to dislike.

Bryant actually thrived in D’Antoni’s system, his 27.3 points per game in the 2012-13 season showing how his superb diet and conditioning allowed him to play as effectively as he had in his prime before his left Achilles tendon ultimately collapsed. But with Bryant coming off two major injuries in that Achilles and a left knee, both he and the Lakers wanted him featured in a way that both maximized his skillset and conserved his energy.

Well after Bryant’s five field goals all coming off his signature step-back and pull-up jumpers, he reported feeling “like I could do anything I wanted” and that he “could run all day.”

“It keeps him fresher,” Scott said. “He’s not running all over the place. He’s not running from the hash mark all the way down to the baseline. He’s in a pretty nice confined area that he can really work. He feels that way as well. The one thing he said tonight is that he felt fantastic and didn’t feel tired. It worked.”

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Lakers project Nick Young sidelined for eight weeks after thumb surgery

The smile stayed wide on Nick Young’s face just moments before having surgery on Monday to treat a torn ligament in his right thumb. But even if Young still maintained his positive attitude as shown on his Instagram account, it does not camouflage the disheartening news just as the Lakers begin a two-week stretch of exhibition games.

Young will stay sidelined for at least eight weeks, the Lakers estimate, wiping the team’s top reserve out for all eight preseason contests and the first 14 games of the 2014-15 regular season. Tht means it’s possible Young could return as early as Nov. 26 when the Lakers host the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center.
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Wesley Johnson believes he will have a more comfortable role this season

Los Angeles Lakers forward Wesley Johnson, right, scores on a fast break against Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum, of France, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Monday, March 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Wesley Johnson, right, scores on a fast break against Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum, of France, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Monday, March 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

The Lakers never knew what they would get from Wesley Johnson. Johnson never knew what he would get from the Lakers, either.

The Lakers would marvel at his athleticism. They would fret at his inconsistent play. They would scratch their heads how Johnson could defend the Clippers’ Blake Griffin one night and not stop an unknown player the next. Johnson would relish his opportunities. He would downplay his up-and-down
performances. Johnson would occasionally point out the multiple responsibilities that often entail defending someone far much bigger than his listed 6-7, 210-pound frame.

Now, Johnson enters the 2014-15 season both with a fresh slate and a role in which he believes he will thrive. Lakers coach Byron Scott has strongly suggested Johnson will start at small forward, beginning with the team’s preseason opener Monday night against the Denver Nuggets at Valley View Casino Center in San Diego. Johnson’s services will become more valuable considering the Lakers are thin at small forward because of injuries to Nick Young (torn ligament in right thumb), Ryan Kelly (strained left hamstring) and Xavier Henry (back spasms).

“I expect a lot from Wesley Johnson,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “He’s been looking great in training camp, running up and down the floor, defending. That’s something I think he can be one of the best in the league at doing.”

Johnson maintains he will be ready.

“I know what to expect. I know what I’m coming into,” Johnson said. “I know I’m going to play the wing now. That’s’ what I’m going to do on the offensive and defensive end. I’m ready for it.”
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