<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Triple Threat]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/blogs/triple-threat http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Thu, 30 Oct 2014 09:50:51 -0700 Thu, 30 Oct 2014 09:50:51 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Lakers Lose to Suns, Fall to 0-2]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:28:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lakers-Suns-Kobe-Bryant-10-29-14.jpg

Wednesday night against the Phoenix Suns, the Los Angeles Lakers suffered their second blowout loss of the 2014-15 season.

For the second time in as many days, the Lakers struggled on defense and sputtered on offense, relying too heavily on Kobe Bryant. Bryant, who started the game icing a sore shoulder, found himself shouldering the Lakers' offense from early in the contest. He scored seven of the Lakers' first nine points and hit 19 points by the halftime intermission.

Unfortunately, the Lakers failed to control the Suns in any capacity. Phoenix was especially lethal on three-pointers, as the Suns hit nine of their first 17 shots from long range. That was by halftime. In sharp contrast, the Lakers only attempted three shots from behind the arc in the first half.

As they did against the Houston Rockets one night earlier, the Lakers fell behind early. The purple and gold trailed by 18 points in the first quarter before clawing back to within four points in the second period.

The Lakers' rally was largely spurred by the promising play of new addition Ed Davis. Davis notched up nine points, grabbed five rebounds, handed out two assists and snatched a steal in the first half. Still, the Lakers did not receive much production from elsewhere and trailed by nine at the intermission.

Davis would eventually finish with 14 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.

In the second half, Bryant's sore shoulders were unable to keep up with the Suns' offense. After three quarters, Bryant was up to 31 points on 25 shot attempts, but the Lakers trailed by 24 points. As such, Lakers' coach Byron Scott opted to sit his star player for the final 12 minutes. Actually, he sat all his starters for the fourth quarter.

When analyzing what went wrong, one could not help but point to the dismal performance put on by Carlos Boozer. Boozer finished with twice as many turnovers, eight, as points, four. Also, Jeremy Lin continued to struggle in generating offense. Lin finished with six points, one assist and two turnovers in 21 minutes.

One unexpected bright spot was Wayne Ellington. Ellington missed the Lakers' season opener due to a concussion, but the time off appeared to rectify the guard’s shot. Ellington finished with 13 points on six of nine shooting from the field.

The fourth quarter proved to be academic, along with the final score: 119-99.

Next, the Lakers host the LA Clippers at Staples Center on Halloween.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers: Julius Randle Out for 2014-15 Season]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:14:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-rookie-julius-Randle.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers confirmed that Julius Randle underwent successful surgery on Wednesday morning to repair a fracture tibia in his right leg. As was feared, the promising rookie is expected to miss the duration of the 2014-15 NBA season, which will be a striking blow for the Lakers and for the 19-year-old kid.

In a freak move, Randle appeared to break his right leg by accidentally kicking himself with his left leg as he drove to the basket in Tuesday's loss to the Houston Rockets. In painful scenes that gripped the fans in the stadium and his teammates on the bench, Randle sat on the floor in visible pain as Lakers’ athletic trainer Gary Vitti stabilized the injured leg and called for a stretcher.

Randle's teammates emotionally helped the clearly distraught youngster keep composure on the court and physically assisted the 240-pound forward onto the stretcher.

Following the confirmation of the seriousness of the injury, players and fans expressed support for the 19-year-old and wished him a speedy recovery.

LA-native Paul George, who is also missing the 2014-15 season with a broken leg, expressed his sadness over the event on social media.

 

 

George was only one of numerous players that took the time to wish the future of the Lakers' franchise well wishes.

In a classy move, the Lakers' cross town rivals, the LA Clippers took to social media to express their support as well.

 

 

The Clippers have eerily similar experience in this sort of matter, as Blake Griffin missed his entire rookie season through injury after a promising preseason.

The Lakers stated that Randle underwent a successful operation and expected to make a complete recovery.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Rookie Breaks Leg in Loss]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 04:22:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers+Rookie+Julius+Randle+Breaks+Leg.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers' season opener against the Houston Rockets met expectations in several ways, but the end result left players and fans feeling ill.

Lakers' rookie Julius Randle, who many consider the future of the franchise, suffered a broken leg in his first NBA game. Prior to that point in the game, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard had an altercation that resulted in both players being separated after Howard swung his elbows in Bryant’s face. Choice words were exchanged, but none of that mattered by the end of the game.

All thoughts and prayers were with the 19-year-old kid after he had been stretched off in his home debut. As he lay on the hardwood waiting for the stretcher to arrive, one by one, Randle's teammates learned that the kid was seriously hurt. Each player made his way over to the rookie who was struggling and in serious pain. By the time the stretcher finally arrived, Randle was surrounded by a huddle of teammates rubbing his head and telling him to be strong, most notable in the bunch was Bryant.

The fact that the Houston Rockets beat the LA Lakers 108-90 was an afterthought. Had the game been halted at the 6:46 mark in the fourth quarter, when Randle suffered the broken leg, the Lakers would have likely gladly taken the loss and moved on to process the news.

The mood in the arena turned somber the moment Randle went down, and the remaining fans in the stands could not even bring themselves to heckle Howard, the object of hate for most of the evening. Sadness overcame all who had been following the rookie, and news that his mother was present to watch her boy play in his first NBA game only further added to the glum mood.

After the game, the doleful mood carried over into the Lakers' press conferences. Lakers' coach Byron Scott called the injury "heartbreaking."

"I just told him to stay strong," Scott recounted his message to the crying Randle after the game. "Adversity tests the true character of a man. This is some adversity that we’re facing."

Bryant, who took it upon himself to mentor the youngster, also spoke to the kid and provided him a message of guidance.

"I just told him to keep his spirits up, try not to think about this too much right now," Bryant told reporters after the game. "We're here to pick him up and help him through it."

Bryant added, "You can only control what you can control. That's really tough to process. That's really tough to let that go. But it's the truth. You can't worry about those things. It's a fluke injury. There's nothing you can do about that."

On a stretcher, Randle was transported to a hospital as the Lakers departed for Phoenix, where they will play the Suns on Wednesday night without their rookie sensation.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Says Dwight Howard is a "Teddy Bear"]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 04:16:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/KobeCallsDwightHowardTeddyBear_1200x675_349355075661.jpg After the Lakers' Opening Night loss on Oct. 28, 2014, Kobe Bryant downplayed his dislike for Dwight Howard and called him a "Teddy Bear."]]> <![CDATA[Lakers Lose Rookie Julius Randle To Broken Leg]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 00:24:28 -0700 Lakers rookie Julius Randle broke his leg, so Kobe Bryant and Byron Scott talked about the scene following the game.]]> <![CDATA[Lakers Coach Byron Scott Realizes "Dream" With Son]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:13:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Byron-Scott-Thomas-Scott_10-28-14.jpg

Since taking the job and throughout training camp, Inglewood-native and former Los Angeles Lakers’ player Byron Scott has talked about his "dream" of coaching his home team. Growing up a full court pass away from the Great Western Forum, Scott has been a Laker for life.

As a player, he achieved his dream of playing at the fabulous Forum and won three championships in the process. On Tuesday night, Scott will realize the dream of coaching his team, but he’s not going it alone.

"That's a dream come true, to have your son, who’s a big time basketball guy who loves this game and has a passion for this game just like his dad, to have him behind the bench as well is a thrill," Scott said on Tuesday morning, only hours before the Lakers' 2014-15 season opener.

Thomas Scott is a player-development coach with the Lakers and part of his father's coaching staff. Having spent time as an assistant under Scott previously and also time as an assistant in the NBA Development League, the younger Scott paid his dues and earned his place in the Lakers’ 2014-15 coaching staff.

Tuesday night is a special occasion for the family. A day earlier, Byron reminisced that Thomas was too young to remember when Byron first achieved his dream of playing for the purple and gold. This time, though, Thomas was a grown man of 31 years, and this was a dream that both father and son could share together.

Scott smiled, "I went to dinner last night and talked about ‘this is a dream come true for both of us,' with me being here as a coach and having him as one of my staff members."

The Lakers' head coach laughed, "You know, once the game starts, I won't even notice."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Faces Dwight on Lakers' Opening Night]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 12:14:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/157391796.jpg

On Tuesday night, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers open the 2014-15 NBA regular season against Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets.

This matchup was no accident.

Bryant and Howard have not shared a court since "#StayD12" posters had to be ripped down from all over Los Angeles posthaste. The Lakers and Rockets met twice at Staples Center following Howard's move to Houston, but the big man only took part in one of the two contests. Bryant missed both due to the fracture in his knee.

Howard's lone appearance on the Lakers' Staples Center court was a rowdy affair. The raucous crowd showered Howard with insults and loud chants. Memorably, the 26-point Lakers' loss featured Houston's center jokingly joining the crowd in screaming "Howard Sucks." If anything, the center's behavior incited even louder jeers. After the game, Howard joined his Rockets' teammates--including new Laker Jeremy Lin holding a plate full of food--to film a video of the Rockets' team chanting "Howard Sucks" and ridiculing the Lakers' fans at Staples Center.

A full season may have passed since Howard opted not to return to LA, but fans wearing purple and gold still have not cooled on their dislike for Howard. Without a doubt, he is the most hated visitor to Staples Center, and the 28-year-old even heard an abnormal level of jeering when playing against the LA Clippers.

When asked why he thought the Bryant and Howard combination failed, Lakers' coach Byron Scott offered his opinion on Monday: "Kobe's a real serious guy, wants to win championships. I don't know if Dwight's that serious about it. I know No. 24 is. I think that probably was the clash."

 

Whether or not it was reality, Howard's image in Los Angeles was forever tarnished in that lone season in the Southland. Fair or not, he continues to be perceived as the clown who failed to get serious when Bryant attempted to instill championship values.

Howard wasn't a champion, Lakers' fans continue to contend. Bryant is a champion, five times--that is a fact.

On Tuesday night, the Lakers will start the season by exercising the demons of the "Dwightmare." A 36-year-old Bryant probably won't be dunking on the fully healthy Howard, but every minor encounter involving the former teammates will draw as much attention as the first time Shaq and Kobe hugged it out following the feud.

Howard and Bryant, however, did not share any championships or memorable moments of glory. As such, there is no need to reconcile what could have been because it never was. The duo never even played a single playoff game together.

Still, fans of the purple and gold display hatred for Houston's big man with greater zest than any other player in the NBA. Without a doubt, Howard will continue forward in the role of supreme villain, and Tuesday night will feature the return of the Lakers' long lost hero.

"To see (Bryant) playing again and feeling good and healthy, and excited to play, I think that's going to be great," Scott said at the Lakers' final practice before the regular season. "I'm looking forward to it."

Scott isn't the only one.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Practice Report: Season Starts Tuesday]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 15:29:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jeremy-Lin-Kobe-Bryant.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott said he was "very happy with the way training camp went" on Monday afternoon following the team's final practice ahead of the start of the 2014-15 regular season.

"I thought our guys did a hell of a job understanding what we need to do on the defensive end of the floor, and that’s going to have to be our bread and butter," he said.

With a smile, Scott added, "And if we can keep games close, then we have a guy — No. 24 — that’s proven over the years that he can pull games out, so we can rely on him when it comes down to that."

The media swarmed at Monday’s practice, and Scott is hoping the Lakers’ defense matches the suffocating display put on by cameramen, writers and microphone holders at the team's practice facility.

“Defense,” Kobe Bryant, a.k.a. No. 24, responded when asked what the Lakers did best entering the season.

After a disastrous year and a half under coach Mike D’Antoni, the Lakers have push to the opposite end of the spectrum. After D'Antoni's Lakers removed "defense" from their vocabulary, Scott brought it back in a big way. The message flowed through the Lakers’ training camp and continued to splash up at Monday’s practice.

“Defense,” point guard Jeremy Lin responded when asked what the strength of the team was entering the season. “I think we’re gritty and hard-nosed. I think that’ll be our calling card.”

Lin, who expects to start with Ronnie Price injured, downplayed any animosity that may exist between himself and the Houston Rockets, the team that traded Lin to the Lakers over the summer. Lin said he was still friends with those guys and that would continue before and after Tuesday’s season opener.

“These are my friends,” Lin said about the Rockets’ players. “For those 48 minutes, they won’t be.”

Along with Lin facing his former team, Bryant facing Dwight Howard for the first time since Howard spurned LA in favor of Houston was a major story line developing on Monday afternoon. Likely, the NBA scheduled this match up with Bryant and Howard in mind, more so than Lin versus the Rockets.

As a veteran, Bryant managed to downplay the match up when asked about it. His coach, however, offered outside perspective on why he thought, perhaps, the partnership of Howard and Bryant didn’t work in LA.

“Kobe’s a real serious guy, wants to win championships,” Scott said while emphasizing he was not in the locker room. “I don’t know if Dwight’s that serious about it. I know No. 24 is. I think that probably was the clash.”

Notes: Scott said his team had enough guys to practice 5-on-5 on Monday, as Jordan Hill returned following a tweaked neck. Xavier Henry (knee) was back at the facility after taking a trip that included stops in New York and Germany. Nick Young no longer had a heavy cast on his thumb, but he did appear to be wearing protection over the area in question. Young (thumb), Henry (knee), Ryan Kelly (hamstring), Steve Nash (back) and Wayne Ellington (concussion) are all out for Tuesday’s game. Ronnie Price, who hurt his knee in the Lakers’ preseason finale, is questionable for the season opener.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant: Master of the Fadeaway]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 06:07:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Warriors-Kobe-Bryant-10-9-14.jpg

"It's the start of the journey, the official start of the journey," Kobe Bryant, who spoke to reporters on Friday in Las Vegas, said about Tuesday's regular season opener.

One day away from the start of the 2014/15 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers offer a new hope built on an old foundation. For the upcoming season, Bryant will be the face of the Lakers off the court and the leader of the Lakers on it. Bryant, who missed all but six games in the previous season, performed at a high level in the preseason and offered a glimpse into what to expect for the 2014/15 campaign.

In the NBA, the drop in athleticism from a 34-year-old to a 36-year-old is dramatic, and even Bryant's stubbornness appears to have accepted the natural and injury-induced physical decline.

More than ever before, Bryant was boosting his teammates with guidance and relying on all the clubs in his golf bag. When he needed a bucket, however, Bryant consistently went to the one shot he knows he can get and make: the fadeaway jump shot.

In the preseason, Bryant hoisted fall-away jump shots from all over the court. Most often, he attempted the shot from the baseline. Since speed is no longer his strongest asset, the Lakers' shooting guard appears to have embraced the fadeaway jump shot as the shot that will carry him until the end of his career.

Along with the fadeaway, Bryant regularly posted up his opponents in preseason, rather than face them head on. The veteran has been one of the best post-up guards during his legendary career. When he did lower his shoulder and attack the rim, Bryant was more aggressive in creating the pass for his big men than going hard to the basket.

Based on the preseason, however, the Lakers' shooting guard will shoot more fadeaway jump shots than anyone else ever has. To his credit, Bryant usually hit the shot, regardless of where he was standing on the court.

The three-point field goal is not the point of focus for Byron Scott's offense, but Bryant is one player that expects to use that shot regularly, too. Whereas the fadeaway and his post work require a great deal of energy, the three-point field goal is a shot that Bryant should be able to launch uncontested a few times per game. With Steve Nash no longer available to play, Bryant is one of the Lakers' best options from long distance.

As much as Bryant fought the notion that he had to adjust his game due to his injuries, the preseason offered evidence that Bryant had, in fact, adapted his game.

After 19 years in the NBA, Bryant may no longer be the rim rocking kid who won the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, but his competitive streak, ability to get to the foul line and that deadly fadeaway jump shot promise to keep Bryant relevant.

For the next two seasons, Bryant will slowly fade away with the fadeaway jump shot.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Talks Steve Nash]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 20:18:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/KobeBryantonSteveNashruledout201415_1200x675_347631683694.jpg Kobe Bryant spoke for the first time since the Lakers announced that Steve Nash would not be taking part in the 2014-15 NBA season.]]> <![CDATA[Steve Nash Out For 2014/15 Season]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 17:40:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/186973645.jpg

Steve Nash's time with the Los Angeles Lakers appears to be up.

First reported by Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report, the Los Angeles Lakers confirmed that Steve Nash has been ruled out for the 2014-15 season due to "a recurring back injury." 

"Being on the court this season has been my top priority and it is disappointing to not be able to do that right now," Nash said in the Lakers' official press release on the matter. "I work hard very hard to stay healthy and unfortunately, my recent setback makes performing at full capacity difficult. I will continue to support my team during this period of rest, and will focus on my long-term health."

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak also chimed in with his thoughts on the news.

"As disappointed as we are for ourselves and our fans, we're even more disappointed for Steve," Kupchak said. "We know ho hard he's worked the last two years to get his body right for the rigors of the NBA, and how badly he wants to play, but unfortunately, he simply hasn't been able to get there up to this point in time."

Kupchak added, "Steve has been a consummate professional, and we greatly appreciate his efforts."

Nash has always been the most gracious of players when asked difficult questions about age, injuries and money. His professionalism never came into question even in the darkest of time.

Unless Nash was to retire, he will continue to take up a roster spot, and the Lakers are likely to seek another point guard. Ronnie Price was already expected to serve as one of the point guards alongside Jeremy Lin, but Nash's absence places more pressure on rookie Jordan Clarkson. Relying on a rookie as the third point guard is a shaky proposition.

Financially speaking, the Lakers may be able to apply for a Disabled Player Exception, which would allow the Lakers to recoup up to $5.3 million according to salary cap guru Eric Pincus of the LA Times.

Regardless of whatever minimal salary cap relief the Lakers receive, the news that the two-time NBA MVP, eight time NBA All-Star and one of the top point guards of all time has likely played his final NBA game comes as sad news.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers: Jeanie Buss Defends Kobe Bryant]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:52:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-Jeanie-Buss_Oct-23-2014.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers did not lose out on any free agents due to Kobe Bryant over the past summer. Sure, that narrative exists, but it does not entirely match up with reality.

The Lakers’ biggest free agent target, Carmelo Anthony, did not go to the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat or even the Cleveland Cavaliers. He went back home to the one place that could offer him the most money. Had he left New York and chosen a different destination that LA, the narrative would have more legs. But he went back to New York.

Chris Bosh opted to return to Miami for more money rather than join a potential contender in Houston. Shockingly, no one is saying Bosh made the decision because he didn’t want to play with Dwight Howard and James Harden, as both those guys are bad teammates. Bosh made his decision based on family and finances, the basis of most adult decisions.

The Lakers did, however, lose Pau Gasol for less money to the Chicago Bulls. That had less to do with Bryant than it did to do with the overall situation in Los Angeles. True, the Lakers would have been able to offer Gasol more money to stay put if Bryant had taken a lighter contract, but Gasol took less than the Lakers’ offer to go to Chicago anyhow.

Anyone who has ever spoken to Gasol about Bryant understands his love and respect for no. 24. Heck, Bryant wrote one of the two forewards in Gasol's book, and Bryant’s foreward was titled: “If I Could Choose My Brother.” In turn, Gasol dedicated a full chapter to his relationship with Bryant titled “Kobe.”

Even Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol’s brother, did not get his own chapter.

Gasol left for basketball reasons and because his last few years in Los Angeles had not been pleasant. Trade rumors didn’t just swirl around Gasol; they reached level five tornado status.

The other marquee free agent the Lakers missed on was LeBron James. For his family and his personal reasons, James returned home to the city where he grew up and to the team that brought him into the NBA. Added cap space or the allure of Los Angeles would have had little to do with his decision, and Bryant’s difficult demeanor would have played an equally insignificant role. James chose family and home over money.

So, with all that said, Lakers president Jeanie Buss took the airwaves to call out anyone who rejected the Lakers out of fear of playing alongside Bryant.

“Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser, and I’m glad they wouldn’t come to the team,” Buss said during an ESPN SportsCenter interview Thursday.

Already being misconstrued, Buss did not attack the likes of Gasol, Anthony or James for making their decisions based on family, finances or personal reasons. She is referring strictly to those players, whether they truly exist or not, whom turned down the Lakers in fear of playing with Bryant. “Afraid” is the operative word in Buss’ statement, not "Loser."

Of course, the one giant example of a player who left LA for less money is Howard. Bryant’s influence on that decision was widely documented. Ask fans of the team, and a strong majority of the fan base claims it was never sold on Howard wearing purple and gold. Whether it was his headband, his jovial attitude in defeat or his locker room skirmishes with Bryant, Howard did not live up to the hype during his time in Los Angeles.

To be fair to Howard, he was returning from a major back surgery, and his lone season in Los Angeles was one of his worst seasons as a professional. Bryant didn’t help matters, but many inside and outside the Lakers’ facility were happy to see Howard go.

Is a 36-year-old Bryant a deterrent to attracting top free agents? Maybe. Is Bryant the sole reason the Lakers have fallen to the depths of the NBA? No.

Bad coaching hires, an unprecedented veto of a trade, the passing of the Lakers’ patriarch, an inexplicable spat with injuries, Steve Nash’s broken leg and Bryant’s aging have all played parts. Injuries are a part of the game. Nash, presumably, is in his final season, so that nightmare is almost over. For its part, the Buss family has reorganized and appears to be back in control, which explains the Lakers’ president publicly defending the franchise's star player.

Bryant, for his part, remains an unrelenting competitor, but he appears to have accepted a role as mentor that requires him to be more nurturing to the youth that surrounds him. Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, the Lakers’ rookies, have both portrayed Bryant as a leader helping and challenging them, rather than abusing and crushing them.

As is seemingly always the case, the truth is likely somewhere in between. Bryant is not the best teammate in the world, but he’s also not so bad that no one wants to play with him. Obviously, a great deal of this conversation derives from Henry Abbott’s ESPN piece.

In his piece, Abbott points to, among others, Paul George as a potential free agent the Lakers missed out on because the Indiana Pacers' star opted to sign an extension. Ignoring the finances for a moment, George, who grew up in Los Angeles, wore the no. 24 in honor of his childhood hero. While wearing no. 24 with the Indiana Pacers, how believable is it that George would be turned off by the opportunity to play alongside the player he grew up idolizing?

Vilifying Bryant has long been a hobby of NBA writers because it generates interest and feeds a select segment of the basketball watching population that detests Bryant. Also, it rouses emotions and draws reactions from the strongest fan base in the sport, Lakers' fans.

Sadly, the misguided discussion will only reinforce Abbott and writers like him, as this is likely the most “successful” piece he has ever written.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Kershaw, Gordon Named Sporting News All-Stars]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 08:06:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/173*120/dg+copy.jpg

The Sporting News, Wednesday, named Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and second baseman Dee Gordon to their 2014 National League All-Star team.  

Despite their Houdini-level disappearing acts during the playoffs, both guys genuinely deserved it.

Kershaw missed a month of action during the regular season but still managed to win 21 games, strike out 239 batters and post an earned run average of 1.77 in 198 ⅓ innings.

He’s pretty much a lock to win his second straight, and third career, Cy Young Award.

Gordon not only came out of nowhere to win the starting second base job, but he hit well enough to become one of the most dynamic leadoff hitters in the game.

The 26-year-old led the majors with his 12 triples and 64 stolen bases, to go along with a .289 batting average and gold glove caliber defense.

The full Sporting News NL All-Star team roster:

Pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, Craig Kimbrel, Braves
Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers
First Base: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
Second Base: Dee Gordon, Dodgers
Third Base: Anthony Rendon, Nationals
Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals
Outfield: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins Anderw McCutchen, Pirates, Justin Upton, Braves
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lin Returns, Lakers Fall To Suns]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 23:49:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Suns-Jeremy-Lin-10-21.jpg

Following two separate ankle injuries, Jeremy Lin finally returned to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns. However, Lakers’ coach Byron Scott managed to temper expectations by announcing that Lin would not start ahead of the preseason encounter in Anaheim.

Kobe Bryant, who has consistently been the Lakers’ best player in the preseason, got off to a slow start. Bryant was held scoreless after the first quarter and only managed one made basket out of seven shot attempts in the first quarter.

However, the Lakers did not fall apart with their superstar struggling. In a positive sign for the purple and gold, Bryant’s Lakers’ teammates picked up the slack. Jordan Hill, in particular, started the game sharp and finished with a team-high 10 points at halftime.

To start the second half, though, Bryant took it upon himself to end his shooting slump. He promptly scored the Lakers’ first four baskets of the half. With Bryant establishing and the game going back-and-forth, the fourth quarter set up perfectly for Lin to make his mark.

In the fourth quarter, Lin took over, briefly.

Lin played all but the final 11.5 seconds of the fourth quarter and displayed the skillset that had the NBA going “Linsane” a couple years earlier. He created shots for teammates, attacked the rim, hit a three-pointer and rebounded with ease. In the fourth quarter, Lin tabbed 11 points, two rebounds and two assists.

The point guard brought the crowd to life, and only one man could trump Lin's excitement: no. 24.

Bryant hit his patented turnaround fadeaway jump shot. Then, he hit the same shot again. And Again. When he tried to hit the same shot for the fourth time in a row, the Suns fouled Bryant, who went to the free throw line and promptly knocked down two free throws.

The Lakers held a three-point lead with about a dozen seconds remaining, but a couple errors would change the game. First, Lin committed a foul that disqualified him from the game. After a flurry of missed free throws on both ends, a Suns' put-back at the buzzer sent the game into overtime.

In the extra period, Bryant continued to hit big shots, but his minutes were adding up. Without hesitating, Scott pulled Bryant in a close game in overtime. The 36-year-old had already logged nearly 34 minutes, and this was a preseason game, after all. He finished with 27 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, despite the cold start to the night.

Wesley Johnson, who appeared to have greatly improved his offensive game due to workouts with Bryant, hit a couple big shots in the extra period. However, the Lakers’ overtime rally would fall short, and the Suns walked away with the 114-108 victory in Anaheim.

Considering Bryant was watching from the sidelines at the end of the overtime period, the result clearly did not matter. What did matter was that the both Lin and Bryant performed at a high level, and the Lakers' defense was able to get stops.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Responds to ESPN, Recent Criticism]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 23:23:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kobeBryantrespondsESPNarticle102114_1200x675_346062403865.jpg On Oct. 21, 2014, Kobe Bryant was asked about how he responds and reacts to public criticism leveled on him, in particular in response to a recent ESPN article.]]> <![CDATA[Lin Returns, Kobe Shines for Lakers against Suns]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 23:40:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LakersSunsLinKobeBryantpreseason2014_1200x675_346072643762.jpg Kobe Bryant and Jeremy Lin played well in an overtime preseason loss to the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 21, 2014]]> <![CDATA[Video: Kobe Bryant's Expletive Message to Rookie]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 04:54:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-warns-Lakers-Rookie-Randle.jpg

Kobe Bryant understands what a basketball lifetime with the Los Angeles Lakers offers to those few who are blessed with the talent and put in the hard work required to become great wearing purple and gold at a young age.

Bryant is a five-time champion and a living legend in the NBA and far beyond.

So, after Sunday's preseason victory over the Utah Jazz, Bryant was asked about rookie Julius Randle, who is slowly being groomed as a future face of the franchise. The rookie possesses a plethora of talents that include dribbling the ball up the court as a power forward.

Feeling good about the victory, Bryant took the opportunity to cut loose, drop a few "f-bombs" and tell the Lakers' rookie he would be an "idiot" to blow his opportunity with the purple and gold in any way. However, Bryant managed to slip in a slight that drew laughter from the peanut gallery of reporters in the locker room.

Despite recently stating that he had enough self-motivation to not be bothered by ESPN ranking him the 40th best player in the NBA, the 36-year-old couldn't help but take a shot at the sports media giants.

"ESPN are idiots, but you're a really big idiot if you managed to [expletive] this up," Bryant told reporters asking about the opportunity Randle had with the Lakers.

For his part, Randle agreed with the Lakers' star.

"Kobe said, 'You can't mess it up, unless you want to,'" Randle smirked when asked about the cards he had been dealt. "I intentionally have to mess things up. Having a coach like Byron (Scott), learn from greats like Kobe, Booz (Carlos Boozer), (Steve) Nash, all those guys. And on top of that, playing for the Lakers' organization."

On the night, the rookie had the best outing of his young professional career. Although he has a long way to go to being mentioned in the same breath as any of the Lakers' greats, the 19-year-old was entirely aware of the unique opportunity presented before him.

"I'm in a perfect situation," Randle concluded. "I can't mess it up."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Play Defense, Comeback Against Jazz]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 04:56:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-rookie-julius-Randle.jpg

Down by 22 points in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Utah Jazz, the Los Angeles Lakers appeared set on their way to the third straight blowout loss of their preseason.

Following strong debuts by Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash in the Lakers' preseason opener, the purple and gold proceeded to lose their next three games by a aggregated total of 89 points. In those demoralizing losses, the lack of energy, effort and emphasis on defense were easy to spot with the naked eye and even easier to track using the simplest of statistics.

In all three of their losses, the Lakers allowed 115 or more points. In their lone victory, the Lakers kept their opponent under 100 points.

Considering the lack of firepower with Nash, Jeremy Lin, Xavier Henry, Nick Young, Ryan Kelly and Jordan Clarkson all out injured, the Lakers currently have little to no chance of winning without putting forth a stellar defensive effort. The team simply does not have enough points on the available roster to compete in a high-scoring shootout.

On Sunday night at Staples Center, the Lakers stared up at the score board at halftime and it read 54-38. The Utah Jazz had a 16-point lead, and the Lakers were on pace to give up 108 points on the night. In the first half, the Lakers mirrored the team that had dropped three games in a row, and confidence and crowd noise was at an all-time low.

"When we came out, before the [2nd] half even started, I said, 'Listen, we're not even going to talk about offense. It's all about us getting more aggressive on the defensive end,'" Lakers coach Byron Scott said after the game.

For the final 24 minutes, the Lakers executed on the defensive side of the ball, and the Jazz failed to touch the 100-point mark. The Lakers held their opponents to only 37 points in the second half, and a great deal of that defensive energy came from the Lakers' big men.

Carlos Boozer had his best showing of the preseason with 19 points and nine rebounds, but his six steals raised eyebrows. Boozer's active hands created turnovers, and the Lakers began to create offense off their defense.

"That's normally how it goes," Scott laughed after the game. "For some reason, when you play good solid defense, everything seems to be falling for you on the offensive end."

One player who took that mantra to heart was Lakers' rookie Julius Randle. Randle had two block shots, which was a team-high, and showed strength and resilience that did not turn up in the box score. On the defensive end, the 19-year-old looked comfortable on the floor and was an intimidating figure in the lane.

On the offensive end, Randle displayed signs of the clutch gene. All four of Randle's field goals came in the fourth quarter of a close game. The first two of those shots broke a tie to give the Lakers a slender lead. The next one took the Lakers from down one point to up one point. His last made basket brought the Lakers level after they were trailing.

It may have only been preseason, but this rookie hit some big shots and began to find his footing.

"I think the biggest thing that clicked was me being active on the defensive end, carrying it over to my offense," Randle said after Sunday's victory.

Randle's coach expressed satisfaction with the rookie's progress and hoped for more of the same in the future.

"That's what we're hoping, that we get this type of energy and effort from him every single night," Scott said. "Obviously, he has it in him. He has a world of talent."

Bryant would finish with 26 points, four rebounds and five assists, earning player of the game honors, but by his unreasonably high standards, Sunday night was not a performance to remember. Instead, the excitement after the game revolved around the rookie and the Lakers' commitment to defense.

Quote of the night:

"ESPN are idiots, but you'd have to REALLY be an idiot to [expletive] this up," - Kobe Bryant taking a shot at his player ranking while telling reporters Randle would have to be an "idiot" to waste his golden opportunity with the Lakers.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant: ESPN Are Idiots, Don't F' This Up]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 00:05:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/KobetoJuliusRandleDontFthisup_1200x675_345077827924.jpg Kobe Bryant does not bite his tongue when telling LA Lakers rookie Julius Randle about the opportunity he has with the Lakers...and takes a shot at ESPN in the process.]]> <![CDATA[Lakers Beat Jazz: Kobe Bryant & Julius Randle Postgame]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 00:08:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LakersJazzKobeBryantJuliusRandle101914_1200x675_345068611537.jpg The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Utah Jazz on Oct. 19, 2014 at Staples Center behind strong performances from Kobe Bryant and rookie Julius Randle.]]> <![CDATA[Lakers Blown Out, But Kobe Solid]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:03:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Jazz-Kobe-Bryant-27-points.jpg

Kobe Bryant called Thursday night's his best game of the preseason. The other members of the Los Angeles Lakers, however, could not make the same claim.

"I told them I'm going to find seven or eight guys," Lakers coach Byron Scott started his post-game press conference on Thursday night. He sounded as upset as he has since taking the post.

"That's all I need to play the way we need to play, play hard every single night and compete," Scott relayed his expectations for his team.

Veteran point guard Ronnie Price, who started on Thursday night, understood the concern and did not take the tone lightly.

"Everyone should be upset," Price spoke at his locker. "Everyone should be a little bit frustrated. I understand (that) it's preseason. I understand that we do have injuries. I get it. But if we played a little harder and a little bit smarter by sticking to our principles, I don't think coach would be upset."

One of the most serious personalities in the Lakers' locker room, Price did not have one of his best games against his former team, the Utah Jazz. The final scoreboard read 119-86 with Price and the Lakers on the losing side, and Price finished with more turnovers, five, than assists, two.

Still, he wasn't making excuses.

"If we got beat and we were doing everything we were supposed to be doing with a sense of urgency, I don't think he would be upset," Price questioned his teammates. "I think he would be happy with our effort, and we would live with the consequences."

Trailing by as many as 36 points and losing by 33 points did not reflect a team that was taking the floor with urgency.

"It's tough to really assess and evaluate anything until we get the guys out on the floor and have the regular season rotation a little bit," Bryant said after the game.

Bryant poured in 27 points to go along with four assists and five rebounds in a performance he considered his best of the preseason. However, the Lakers' guard hoisted 23 shot attempts in 28 minutes, and that quick trigger had a great deal to do with the lack of available talent on the court.

Jeremy Lin, Nick Young, Jordan Clarkson, Ryan Kelly and Xavier Henry were all unavailable Thursday. Steve Nash attempted to go through his warm ups but ultimately thought better of it and sat out.

"I'm very concerned," Bryant said about Nash's inability to get healthy. "It just seems like he can't get going on a consistent basis. I know how frustrating that is."

Carlos Boozer, another veteran voice, said the injuries were a "huge" factor in the Lakers' three blowout losses in a row.

"You got to have all that talent out there, but if I had to pick a choice, I'd rather have our talent in the regular season," Boozer attempted to keep perspective.

Although the schedule may still read preseason, November is fast approaching, and the Lakers are running out of time to get bodies healthy. The Lakers' hope is to get Clarkson and Lin back on Sunday with Kelly and Henry not too far away either. The question mark over Nash's head, however, is more prominent than ever.

Even with all that, the Lakers' effort needs to greatly improve if this team wants any hope of competing for a playoff spot in the cutthroat Western Conference. If the lack of effort persists, however, even Bryant can't save the Lakers.

Quote of the Night:

"I've known for a long time that they're a bunch of idiots...honestly, all jokes aside, it really doesn't bother me too much. I'm going to do what I do regardless. God willing, I can stay healthy, and if I wind up proving a lot of people wrong in the process that will just wind up being collateral damage."
-Kobe Bryant on being ranked as the 40th best player in the NBA by ESPN



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Not All-In on Steve Nash]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 08:19:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/186973645.jpg

"Pressure? No, it's still preseason," Xavier Henry summed it up succinctly.

Henry's goal, like the Los Angeles Lakers' goal, is to be ready by the time the regular season rolls around. In less than two weeks, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers will face a stern test against Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets on a nationally televised NBA Opening night game.

Bryant should be ready, but Steve Nash is a major doubt.

Two weeks into training camp, the Lakers have already experienced the best and worst of both worlds the 2014-15 season expects to offer. Nash and Bryant looked like a surprisingly spry offensive duo in their preseason opener against the Denver Nuggets. Two games later, the duo combined for a dismal display of shooting that ultimately resulted in a 41-point blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Prior to training camp, Nash was never truly expected to be a reliable contributor, but the 40-year-old Canadian point guard turned heads with his early showings in practice scrimmages and preseason. Two games later, Nash's health is a major concern again, and Lakers coach Byron Scott admitted that he would mull over whether to pencil in Nash, even if he is healthy, as the first-choice starter at point guard.

"The advantage is that (Nash) is one the best point guards that ever played the game," Scott said about Nash after Tuesday's practice. "Obviously, if he's out there, he's healthy, he makes us a better basketball team."

Nash, sadly, has become reliable in being unreliable at this late stage of his career.

Luckily, the Lakers have covered themselves for the likelihood of Nash not being an everyday player. Jeremy Lin may be recovering from an ankle sprain that will likely hold him out of Thursday's preseason game against the Utah Jazz, but the 26-year-old is certainly capable of starting in the NBA.

Playing alongside Bryant, Lin can act as an on-ball creator or an off-ball shooter. In his two preseason appearances, the boy who was birthed in Torrance has already displayed his versatility. Against the Nuggets, Lin ran the second unit as the primary passer and collected 10 assists with only one turnover. Against the Warriors, Lin lined up alongside Bryant for the first time and served as a shooter, scoring 14 points without missing a single shot.

Along with Lin, the Lakers also have a proven commodity in Ronnie Price. Already one of the most respected guys in the locker room, the 31-year-old offers tenacious defense that occasionally includes tossing a shoe at the opposition. Price is not a flashy guard that will pour in 40 points, but he is an experienced and stable player that only turned the ball over three times in 60 minutes of preseason basketball.

Another option, the Lakers also have an athletic kid named Jordan Clarkson, but rookies usually require time to acclimate to the pace of the NBA game. Clarkson’s promise is far from guaranteed to translate to production. Still, the kid can penetrate, is not afraid to shoot and possesses all the tools that can allow him to excel this season and beyond.

Pressure and the Lakers go hand-in-hand, but one would be wise to keep it mind, “it’s still preseason.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Need to Keep Don Mattingly]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 19:49:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/mattd+copy.jpg

With the Dodgers announcement Tuesday that they’ve hired former Tampa Bay Rays executive Andrew Friedman as their new president of baseball operations, it’s imperative that his first move be to affirm that Don Mattingly is, and will be, the Dodgers' manager next season.

From the moment the club got bounced out of the playoffs last week by the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Division Series, all the talk in Dodgerland has been whether Mattingly would be, or should be, brought back as the team’s skipper.

Part of that talk comes from being clobbered by the Cards in the playoffs for the second straight year, although St. Louis made it to the World Series last season and they’re well on their way back this year. Part of the talk comes because the Dodgers have entered the world of big money sports politics when not winning it all means heads have to roll. And, part of the talk comes from the not so subtle “World Series, or bust” line Clayton Kershaw dropped during an interview the morning of Aug. 12 on ESPN Radio’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” show. 

But here’s the thing. Winning ain’t easy, especially at the Major League level. Under Mattingly the Dodgers have won. Maybe not a World Series, but they’ve won.

In his four seasons as skipper, they’ve been over .500 each year, their win totals have increased each season and they’ve won the last two NL West Division titles. And, heck, if Matt Carpenter spent his last two Octobers fly fishing instead of bashing Dodger pitching, LA’s postseasons could’ve had better endings.

The previous six Dodger managers before Mattingly failed to make a Fall Classic, now all of a sudden his winning division championships in back-to-back years is not good enough.

With all the teams who would kill to win 94 games, there’s a chance that the guy who did it in the country's second largest market could get canned. Yeah, that makes sense.

Sure, you can question a lot of Mattingly’s in-game decisions. You can even argue that two big blunders in the NLDS 1) bringing in seldom-used Scott Elbert in the seventh inning of Game 3 (he gave up the game-winning two-run homer) and 2) allowing Kershaw to pitch the seventh inning in Game 4 of that series (he gave up the game-winning solo homer) cost the Dodgers the series. But, if you did you, clearly, didn’t watch all four games.

Let’s not forget that the same team he led to the postseason is the same team that was 10 games out of first place on June 7, and looked like a group of individuals who were more interested in collecting checks than collecting wins.

It takes the right personality to handle $240 million worth of egos and Mattingly managed to pull it off in the name of what’s best for the team.

In the second half this season he took Matt Kemp - his $160 million, Gold Glove center fielder - and moved him to right. Kemp didn’t like it. Mattingly didn’t care, saying it was best for the team. Kemp went on to win NL Player of the Month for September and played his best baseball since almost winning the Most Valuable Player Award in 2011.

He made cast away Dee Gordon the everyday second baseman and leadoff hitter over Justin Turner coming out of Spring Training. When the constant questions of “Really?” came Mattingly didn’t flinch, saying it was best for the team. Gordon made the All-Star team and led the majors in stolen bases. Turner provided Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson-like instant offense coming off bench, hitting .340 in a utility role.

Mattingly’s signed through the 2016 season. And, while Friedman will have his hands full trying to revamp an aging Dodgers roster, the 53-year-old running the show on the field should be the least of his concerns.

It’s what’s best for the team.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant: "We Are Overpaid...So are the Owners"]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 16:38:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-says-players-overpaid-10-14-2014.jpg

On Tuesday afternoon, Kobe Bryant was in a speaking mood after Los Angeles Lakers practice, and he had plenty to say about a variety of topics.

On the topic of the day, the NBA’s experiment of reducing games to 44 minutes and cutting two time outs to make games shorter, Bryant was slightly taken aback by the idea.

“I don’t know. I’m kind of old school,” the 19-year veteran responded. “I’m used to the 48 minutes.”

That topic, however, only warmed up Bryant for the opinions he was about to share regarding the NBA’s new television deal and the next collective bargaining agreement.

“As players, you kind of have to hold your ground a little bit. Not be afraid of what the public perception is, but instead, educate the public a little bit,” Bryant attempted to educate his fellow players.

“It’s not about complaining about how much you’re making, because that’s ridiculous,” Bryant said with a breath of casual honesty that has become routine at this stage of his career. “We are overpaid. At the same time, so are the owners. You have to fight for what your market value is.”

Bryant urged the players to understand that the argument was business, not personal. Regarding his experiences with the Lakers, however, Bryant felt extremely fortunate.

“I’m the luckiest basketball player in the league because I got very fortunate with an organization that takes care of its players, rewards its players, and has a long history of doing that,” Bryant received a great deal of public scrutiny for his latest contract that many experts considered gross over payment.

“And I think it speaks volumes, not only to me and to the city but to other players around the league as well,” Bryant continued to praise the Lakers’ way of doing business. “You look around at some of the other owners who try to milk their players or get rid of them or discard them. This organization doesn’t do that.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant: "We Are Overpaid...So Are the Owners"]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 14:32:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/KobeBryantonNBACBA_1200x675_342497859616.jpg Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers talked about the NBA's collective bargaining agreement and admitted the players were overpaid, but also said the owners are overpaid.]]> <![CDATA[Lakers Practice Report: Nash And Kobe Off]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 14:13:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Lakers-Warriors-Kobe-Bryant-preseason.jpg

The day after a demoralizing 41-point preseason loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers met for Monday’s practice, but Head Coach Byron Scott gave veterans Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant the day off to get treatment.

Neither Bryant nor Nash played well on Sunday night.

Bryant cited tired legs after the game, and apparently, the Lakers’ coach heeded the warning. After all, the Lakers had practiced on Sunday morning before playing on Sunday night. And it showed. Nash, the coach revealed, entered Sunday’s contest with reservations and asked out of the game early on.

On Monday, Scott said both Bryant and Nash came to practice floor dressed and ready to play, but the coach had scheduled a practice centered on offense and shooting—areas both veterans were well-versed in—so the backcourt duo got the day off.

Jeremy Lin, who missed Sunday’s game with a sprained ankle, did not take part in the session either.

“Jeremy came out; he was a little ginger,” Scott said at Monday’s practice. “He said it feels a lot better today than it did yesterday, so Thursday’s going to be pretty much a game-time decision.”

Jordan Clarkson was considered day-to-day, and the coach was optimistic that the rookie point guard could recover from a strained calf by Sunday’s preseason game against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. Scott also confirmed that Ryan Kelly did work for the first time since training camp had started.

Regarding Xavier Henry, however, Scott was coyer. He would neither confirm nor deny whether Henry would be available for Thursday’s game against the Utah Jazz in Anaheim.

Nick Young, who was at practice and participating, had a new cast on and offered his usual light style of entertainment. At only point, Young was asked about the Lakers’ lack of outside shooting attempts, and Young jested that he would probably have made about five three-pointers himself.

Everything considered, Monday’s practice did not feature panic in the face of the one-sided loss on Sunday, and the injury news was more positive than negative.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nick Young Has Amnesia?]]> Sat, 11 Oct 2014 14:24:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NickYoungLakersPracticeoct112014_1200x675_340671555640.jpg Always entertaining, Nick Young talked to the media after LA Lakers practice on Saturday, October 11, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Lakers Lose To Warriors: Recap]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 08:06:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Warriors-Kobe-Bryant-10-9-14.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers received a harsh reality check on Thursday night at Staples Center.

“It’s a learning experience,” Kobe Bryant said after the 120-105 loss to the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors were a vastly superior team, and no amount of effort, heroics or crowd noise would change that fact. Heck, not even Bryant could change that at this early point in the preseason.

Bryant played the first 10 and a half minutes of Thursday’s game before sitting down for a rest. Despite a strong individual start, the Lakers were already flirting with a double digit deficit by the time Bryant grabbed a seat. In that first spell, Bryant racked up 10 points on 4/6 shooting from the field, including a two-hand dunk. Also, he added two steals, one assist, one rebound. More often than not, Bryant performed some fancy footwork and continued to make a living with his patented baseline fade away jump shot.

He was not alone, though, as Jeremy Lin also put together a promising performance on the offensive side of the ball. Lin, who made his first start with the Lakers, ultimately earned player of the game honors in the arena. Lin only earned the start due to Lakers’ coach Byron Scott opting to rest 40-year-old Steve Nash for the night. The 26-year-old Lin took advantage of his opportunity and finished perfect from the field. He put together a 14-point, four-rebound and four-assist outing at Staples Center. Most importantly, Lin finished with only one turnover in slightly more than 21 minutes of work.

Despite a few standout performances, the Lakers, on the whole, failed on the defensive side of the ball. Asked about where the defensive breakdowns occurred, Scott responded, “Everywhere.”

In particular, the Warriors’ “splash brothers” combo found a way to get going and never stopped. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 8/10 shooting from behind the arc on Thursday night, and Thompson, in particular, had a white hot hand and finished with 25 points in 25 minutes on 9/13 shooting.

Clearly, The Lakers were a work in progress, as the home team only managed to display short stretches of good defense and good offense. The Warriors, in contrast, had a core of players that had played together for an elongated stretch and had already developed a level of chemistry the Lakers could only dream about at that moment.

Still, Thursday night contained bright spots for the Lakers. One of those bright spots was Ed Davis, who pulled down six rebounds—four of which were offensive—in 10 first half minutes. Although Carlos Boozer did not shoot a high percentage, the veteran power forward earned consistent open looks and finished with a team-high 16 points, so he could also be considered a bright spot. Also, backup point guard Ronnie Price controlled the pace of the game and appeared to be comfortable on the court.

Ultimately, though, the darkest spot on Thursday night was overall defense, as the Lakers allowed the visiting Warriors to score 120 points on 56 percent shooting.

Notes: Jordan Clarkson left the game in the second quarter with a left calf strain. Clarkson said his calf “tightened up” while he was running. With the Lakers having the day off of practice on Friday, Clarkson will visit a doctor and find out more about the strain.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Steve Nash Not Likely To Play Thursday]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 17:12:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Byron-Scott-Lakers-Coach.jpg

For the first time at Staples Center, Byron Scott will take the sidelines for the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

“I’m excited about that,” Scott said Thursday morning. “Now, I need to figure out how long it’s going to take me to get from Redondo Beach down to Staples Center. That’s trouble. I might need to leave at 4(pm).”

After cracking a few jokes about LA traffic and Nick Young’s absence from another practice, Scott got serious about what to expect Thursday night. At Thursday’s shootaround, Scott said he was considering sitting Nash as a cautionary step. Scott said he may even give Kobe Bryant a night off on Sunday in Ontario.

“The main objective is to get both those guys to play as many games, obviously, as possible. Eighty-two games is a long season,” Scott said. “Sometimes, we got to be a little bit smarter and make sure we give those guys ample time to rest and recover.”

To this point, Nash has been able to control his injuries and has looked surprisingly good. Scott called Nash a “difference maker” and spoke about how the Canadian point guard can be another coach on the floor.

“From what I’ve seen in the healthy Steve Nash compared to the one I saw last year, he’s moving so much better. I mean, his body, you can just tell by the way he’s running and getting up and down the floor, that he feels a lot better,” Scott said. “That, to me, is the biggest difference. He’s not going to forget how to play basketball.”

Scott would not fully commit to sitting Nash for the 2013-14 Lakers’ Staples Center debut, but the coach said that he had already talked to Nash about the possibility. Part of the reason for sitting Nash was also to get a closer look at Ronnie Price.

Price did not play in the Lakers’ preseason opener, but the coaches have been raving about the 31-year-old point guard. Jeremy Lin would likely be the starter in place of Nash, and Price would get minutes with the second unit.

Tip-off for the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors is 7:30 pm Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Practice Report: Oct. 8, 2014]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 14:35:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Nick-Young-Jimmy-Goldstein.jpg

“I’m on medication!” Nick Young laughed as he passed a wall of reporters begging the injured LA Lakers’ star to speak after Wednesday’s practice. Following Monday’s successful surgery, Young was wearing a cast and clearly had not participated in the team practice.

The Lakers’ electric personality is expected to miss eight weeks due to the thumb injury, but he recently hit social media and drew some laughs.

“We can’t really do anything with (Young) for a couple of days,” Lakers’ coach Byron Scott said on Wednesday. “When I first saw him today, I didn’t know that. I said, ‘Get your stuff on. We’re going to do some running.’”

Young quickly told Scott that he wasn’t allowed to do any conditioning for a couple days.

“I think he was pretty happy about it,” Scott continued the story. “In the long run, I’m going to get the last laugh, so it’s going to be happy days for me coming up.”

With a smirk, Scott confirmed that Young would likely only have a couple days off before the re-conditioning would commence.

In other injury news, Wesley Johnson, who had his knee buckle during the preseason opener on Monday, was back at practice on Wednesday. Johnson was able to fully participate in the two-hour session and felt confident he would be ready to go on Thursday night at Staples Center. However, the ultimate decision would fall on the Lakers’ coaching and medical staffs.

Johnson said, “I think they’ll just let me know (about playing on Thursday). We’re playing it by ear now.”

“Yea, a little bit sore. I mean, that’s all it was. Pretty much just sore,” Johnson, who was wearing a protective band below his left knee, responded when asked about how his knee felt in the days following the injury. “Today in practice, it felt fine.”

Xavier Henry was also at practice shooting around, but he was limited and watching the majority of the session.

“He still really can’t really move as well as he wants to,” Scott said about Henry, who missed the start of training camp due to back spasms. “His back is still tender, so we just have to wait until that thing calms down.”

With regards to the lineups he put out on Monday, Scott said he expected all the same players to be available in Thursday’s game at Staples Center. The Lakers’ coach said he would try some different lineups, and one player specifically mentioned was Ronnie Price. Price has been a standout player in camp but was unable to see the floor in the Lakers’ opener in San Diego.

Notes: Steve Nash took part in practice but left the group session early to do individual stretching. Scott said Nash was available and expected to take part in Thursday night’s preseason game at Staples Center against the Golden State Warriors.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw to Start Game 4 on Short Rest]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 21:50:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/176*120/kersh+4.jpg

Dodger manager Don Mattingly changed course Monday naming Clayton Kershaw the starter for Game 4 of the NL Division Series in place of Dan Haren.

Kershaw will be pitching on three days rest against the St. Louis Cardinals just as he did in last year’s NL Division Series against Atlanta, when he went six innings, allowing two unearned runs while striking out six to help close out the Braves in four games.

This time around he’ll either be in the same position with a chance to end the series, or he’ll be trying to play the role of savior to keep the Dodgers' season alive.

Kershaw’s the front runner for both the Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards but the Cardinals didn’t care in Game 1 when they smeared his pitches all over Dodger Stadium.

In his last two postseason starts, both against St. Louis, Kershaw has allowed 15 runs and 18 hits in 10 2/3 innings pitched.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe and Nash Shine For Lakers]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 09:11:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Nuggets-preseason-10-6-14.jpg

Never mind that Kobe Bryant started Monday night’s preseason opener with an air ball.

Bryant didn’t mind, anyhow. On the next possession, Bryant asked for the ball in the post and hit a turnaround fade away jump shot that has become as synonymous with the 36-year-old’s game as winning. He wasn’t done, though.

Bryant scored or directly assisted on the Lakers’ first six baskets. To say that the “Black Mamba” looked like his old self was accurate, and “old” was not the operative word. Bryant looked every bit as good as he had prior to missing the all but six games of an 82-game season.

For the first preseason game, Bryant’s play would have been enough to satisfy fans across the globe. However, Bryant’s first six baskets provided the perfect prelude to what would come next: Steve Nash.

The Canadian point guard looked like the Phoenix Suns’ version of himself, as he immediately grabbed the baton from Bryant and proceeded to drive for a solo layup before setting up Wesley Johnson for an alley-oop layup. For a change, the 40-year-old wasn’t playing like his age, and the visual on Monday matched the reports from training camp. Nash could still play and be productive.

Nash and Bryant combined for nearly 20 minutes in the first quarter, and the two 19-year veterans produced 13 points and seven assists on 50 percent shooting from the field. Most importantly, they didn’t turn the ball with any frequency. They combined for two turnovers in the half.

Truth be told, both looked like they had in practices and scrimmages—if not better.

In the second half, Bryant and Nash continued their strong play, proving the first half was not an adrenaline-fueled fluke. The pro-Lakers crowd in San Diego understood and applauded the efforts of both veterans and the promising play of the purple and gold.

In the second half, the arena showered Bryant with “MVP” chants as he approached the free throw line for the first time. In a combined 42 minutes, Nash and Bryant finished with 24 points, 10 assists and three rebounds. To further illustrate Bryant’s fitness and full recovery, Lakers’ coach Byron Scott left the 36-year-old on the floor for the duration of the third quarter—all 12 minutes.

Monday night may have only been the first game of preseason, but the Lakers earned a massive win, and that had nothing to do with the scoreboard reading “Lakers 98, Nuggets 95."

Notes: In his first game as a professional, rookie Julius Randle was a standout performer. His strength attacking the rim matched the feeling that the Lakers stole him with the no. 7 pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Johnson left the second half with a left patellar strain and will be re-evaluated on Tuesday.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe, Nash Ready For Lakers Preseason Opener]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 08:13:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Practice-Kobe-Bryant-9-30-2014.JPG

Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash both expect to start on Monday night in San Diego, as the Los Angeles Lakers open their preseason against the Denver Nuggets at 7 pm Pacific Time.

Bryant and Nash last appeared in a game together on Mar. 30, 2013, and on that occasion, Nash exited the game due to injury after only two minutes on the floor. Monday, however, is not nearly as precarious a proposition for Nash or Bryant.

Both 19-year veterans have been active participants during the Lakers’ training camp, and both appear eager to erase the injury clouds hovering overhead. Bryant has not had any setbacks or scares since the start of training camp, and he quickly evolved into constantly rolling his eyes at reporters asking how his body is feeling or if he has any ill effects left over from the injury: “I feel fine.”

Nash, likewise, appears to have rolled the clock back a couple years. He had a minor injury scare during Saturday’s practice when he rolled his ankle during a warm up drill, but the Canadian contended that he was only being held out of the session as a precaution. Nash vowed to return on Sunday.

“He looked fantastic, best I’ve seen him look in a long time,” Lakers coach Byron Scott gushed about Nash after Sunday’s practice. “Just looked like Steve Nash. He made other guys look better. He gave them the ball right on the target, and they were just making layups and jump shots. He just made the game look easy today.”

Along with the returns of Nash and Bryant, Scott also marks his return to the Lakers on Monday night. After playing 11 of his 15 seasons in the NBA with the LA Lakers, Scott takes charge as the team’s head coach for the first time.

Since opening his first training camp with the Lakers, Scott has been careful to manage both of his veteran superstars during a tough training camp that has thus far been defined by defense and conditioning. Two workouts per day were a regular occurrence in the week leading up to the preseason opener, but both Nash and Bryant were held to a maximum of one session per day.

Also, both were often held out later in scrimmages, with the Lakers’ philosophy being to work both guys hard but not completely empty their gas tanks. “Leaving something in the tank” is a popular saying when talking to Bryant, Nash or Scott.

With regards to performance in practice, Scott has been singing the praises of both his aging superstars throughout camp. In particular, the coach said he was surprised at how sharp both players looked in the Lakers’ scrimmages considering their elongated layoffs.

“They’ve exceeded my expectations in training camp. They came in much better conditions than I thought they would. The rust has gotten off a lot quicker than I thought it would,” Scott said regarding Nash and Bryant.

“Both of those guys shot the ball in our scrimmages better than I thought they would,” Scott said in slight wonderment. “They moved gracefully. They didn’t have any hiccups.”

With the team’s offensive philosophy far from developed and the early focus on defense, don’t be surprised if Nash and Bryant create the Lakers’ offense and steal the show in San Diego.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Talk About Nick Young Injury]]> Sun, 05 Oct 2014 01:15:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NickYoungInjuryLakers1042014_1200x675_337911363649.jpg With Nick Young expected to miss 6-8 weeks, the Los Angeles Lakers talked about how the injury affects Young and the team as a whole.]]> <![CDATA[Dodgers Look to Greinke to Get Even Against Cards]]> Sat, 04 Oct 2014 18:15:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/21+copy.jpg

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly will hand the ball to Zack Greinke Saturday night in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series in hopes he can even the series after Friday's crushing loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Greinke was the Dodgers' saving grace against the Cards in last year's NLCS, going 1-0 in two starts with a 2.40 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched.

Greinke says, sure, he was good but he doesn't take the Cardinals hitters lightly.

"They're a smarter team than most but because I've faced them a lot, I kind of know some of their holes and where I like to pitch them. But they have a couple of guys who are really smart hitters, who can make adjustments," Greinke said.

His catcher, A.J. Ellis, says he and Greinke has their game plan down.

"Just like Clayton (Kershaw), when Zack's out there on the mound, I have total confidence in them because they are totally prepared.

And Zack especially, with his cerebral side of the game, I can trust that when he shakes to a pitch or he wants to throw something different, he's got a reason behind it," Ellis said.

He singled out Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay as one hitter who he'll have to pay special attention to given his success against Greinke. Jay's hitting .364 (8-for-22) against the Dodgers' righty in his career.

In two starts against St. Louis this season, Greinke was 1-1 with a 3.55 ERA, although he held Cardinals hitters to a .217 batting average.

Greinke will be opposed by the Cardinals 6-foot-5-inch, 250 pound right-hander Lance Lynn.

The Indianapolis native made a name for himself in last year's NLCS, pitching two scoreless innings of relief to get the win in Game 1 and lasting 5 1/3 innings in Game 4 to beat the Dodgers a second time.

Lynn says he looks at this year's playoffs as his chance to take the next step forward in the evolution of his career.

"You look at some of the great pitchers in the game, they do that and that's where I want to be," he said.

His manager Mike Matheny says a lack of composure has been Lynn's downfall during his first three big league seasons, but he's turned that around in 2014.

"The execution of his stuff the last couple of years has fluctuated with some of things that he couldn't control. Whether it was a defensive play that wasn't made, or not, same things with calls made behind the plate, and his execution suffered because of the distractions. He was able to harness that this year and that's just part of that maturing process," Matheny says.

Lynn is coming into the postseason after one of his most productive seasons. The 27-year-old went 15-10 with a 2.74 ERA in a career-high 203 2/3 innings.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cards Didn't Steal Signs, Dodgers Say]]> Sat, 04 Oct 2014 10:56:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/177*120/kersh+ball.jpg

The Cardinals offensive outburst in the seventh inning of Friday’s 10-9 win in Game One of the National League Division Series, scoring eight runs off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, created speculation that they engaged in one of baseball’s oldest tactics.

Stealing signs from the catcher.

It wasn’t until the seventh inning when Kershaw pitched from the stretch and the Cardinals got runners on base that anyone thought to accuse them of code breaking. But, Kershaw giving up four straight hits and then the bases clearing double to Matt Carpenter was such an unusual occurrence, that the questions started even before Matt Holliday’s three-run homer capped the scoring binge.

Did the Cardinals know what pitches were coming? Their hitters say no.

“C’mon! I’ve been playing 11 years and I’m stealing signs?” Holliday told the LA Times.

Kershaw also dismissed the notion.

“I think that’s discrediting their team, when you start thinking about that. It’s just a cop out, so no, I don’t think so,” he said, defiantly, after the game.

Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis says the idea of Cardinals hitters stealing signs didn’t enter his mind until he checked his phone afterward and saw it flooded with messages from people asking about it.

“We know the Cardinals are always looking for that competitive advantage and we appreciate that about them that they’re competing even when they’re out on the bases. We try to do our best to try to mix things up and be unpredictable and try to set up late to try not to tip anything.

I don’t think we can credit anything that they did from stealing, I just think we have to give them credit for how they swung the bat,” Ellis said.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Lose to Cardinals 10-9]]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 21:21:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/hbp.jpg

The Clayton Kershaw-Adam Wainwright matchup in Game One of the National League Division Series was supposed to be a pitchers duel.

Instead, it turned into batting practice.

The Cardinals tagged Kershaw for eight runs on their way to a 10-9 come from behind victory Friday, to take a 1-0 game lead in the best of five series.

The sold crowd of 54,265, and just about everyone this side of St. Louis, thought the game was over after A.J. Ellis’s two-run home run in the fifth gave the Dodgers a 6-1 lead, and knocked Wainwright out of the game

But, Matt Carpenter's solo homer in the sixth cut the Dodgers lead to, 6-2.

Carpenter delivered the knockout blow in the seventh.

Four straight singles by the Cardinals to start the inning cut the Dodgers lead to, 6-3. John Jay later singled home a run with one out to make the score, 6-4. Carpenter, who helped knock Kershaw and the Dodgers out of the playoffs last year with a huge double in Game Six of the NLCS, delivered again. With the bases loaded, he doubled off the right-center field wall to clear the bases and give the Cardinals the lead, 7-6.

Afterward Kershaw tipped his hat to the Cardinals third baseman.

“He hit a fastball. He fouled off some good pitches and I got one up and he put a good swing on it,” he said afterward.

But, the Cardinals weren’t done. Pedro Baez came in to relieve Kershaw and walked Randal Grichuk. Matt Holliday, who started the seventh with a single, followed with a three-run homer to give the Cards a 10-6 lead.

And, as far as the unravelling in that seventh inning, the lefty didn’t make excuses.

“I left some fastballs over the middle of the plate and they got some hits. They ride on momentum. They got a couple guys on base and gained a lot of confidence really fast,” Kershaw said.

Kershaw went 6 2/3 innings, allowing eight runs, eight hits, two homers, while striking out 10. He also became the first pitcher in Major League Baseball history to give up at least seven runs in postseason consecutive starts. He gave up seven runs in that Game Six start last year.

For all his regular season heroics, the 26-year-old is now 1-4 with a 5.20 ERA in 45 playoff innings pitched.
 
Carpenter went 2-for-5 with four RBIs and two runs scored.

The Dodgers offense had a good night despite the outcome.

The collected 16 hits. Four Dodgers had multi-hit games, led by Matt Kemp’s 3-for-5 night, and they had a chance to tie or win it in the bottom of the ninth but Yasiel Puig struck out on a 99 mph fastball from Trevor Rosenthal to strand Andre Ethier at third. Ethier was the 21st runner the Dodgers left on base on the night.

Rosenthal got the save. Marco Gonzales (1-0) pitched a scoreless inning to pick up the win. 

Wainwright lasted only 4 ⅓ innings, he allowed six runs on 11 hits, he walked one, hit a batter and struck out five. He didn’t factor in the decision.

All the excitement seemed to start after a brief dust up in the third inning.

Leading off the inning, Yasiel Puig was hit in the shoulder by an Adam Wainwright fastball. On deck hitter Adrian Gonzalez took exception to it and went toe-to-to with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.

“It was a friendly conversation. I was just, basically, saying… we’re not going to put up with that,” Gonzalez said after the game.

Both teams benches cleared but no punches were thrown, and nobody was ejected. In fact, Wainwright and Puig talked it out. Mattingly believes he even heard the Cardinals starter say “my bad.”

But, it seemed to get the Dodgers fired up.

They scored two runs in the inning and followed up by adding two more runs each in the fourth and fifth innings.

The Cardinals players could sense that it got the Dodgers going.

“It put a fire under them, if it did anything,” Carpenter said. “Obviously, it didn’t have an impact on us because we were able to come back and find away to win, but i definitely think at that particular moment it woke a sleeping dog.”

 

Randal Gichuk stunned the Dodger crowd in the first when he hit an 0-2 curve from Kershaw over the left field wall for a home run that gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.

How rare was that? It was only the second homer Kershaw had given up all season on his curveball.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jeremy Lin Not Feeling "Swaggy"]]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 15:41:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jeremy-Lin-Not-Feeling-Swaggy.jpg

“I call him Nick Young,” Jeremy Lin said when asked a question about “Swaggy P,” the nickname Young famously game to himself. “He’s super cool, but I find it ridiculous that everyone comes up and calls him ‘Swaggy.’ I feel like you got to earn it or something. Maybe he has, but I just got here. Maybe I’ll adopt eventually.”

Young was injured with a sprained right thumb and will undergo an MRI later on Friday. He injured himself guarding Kobe Bryant, Lakers coach Bryon Scott later confirmed. Lin was asked whether he saw how “Swaggy P” sustained the injury, and hearing “Swaggy P” didn’t sit right with the Lakers’ newest guard.

“I just guess it has to be something I see,” Lin responded when asked what Young would have to do to start being called “Swaggy.” “(Maybe) when I look at him, he just glows with his ‘swaggyness,’ but I’m not there yet.”

Lin, however, relented and said he would respect Young’s seniority on the matter.

“He’s hilarious. He’s really cool. So out of respect for him being eight years in, if he wants me to call him ‘Swaggy P’ I guess I will,” Lin said after Friday’s practice. “Besides that, I’ll call him ‘Nick Young.’”

Lin was then asked if he called Bryant “Mamba,” and Lin explained why he thought the idea of calling Young “Swaggy P” was absurd.

“No one calls me ‘Linsanity,’ no one calls (Bryant) ‘The Black Mamba.’ That’s why I think it’s ridiculous people call Nick Young ‘Swaggy P!’”



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Finalize Post Season Roster]]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 16:26:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/184*120/dodgers+post.jpg

The Dodgers have decided to carry 12 pitchers and 13 position players on their 25-man roster for the National League Division Series starting Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Here’s the full NLDS roster:

Pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren, Pedro Baez, Scott Elbert, Carlos Frias, J.P. Howell, Kenley Jansen, Brandon League, Brian Wilson and Jamey Wright.

Position Players: catchers: A.J. Ellis and Drew Butera, outfielders: Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig, infielders: Dee Gordon, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Rojas, Justin Turner and Juan Uribe. Scott Van Slyke is listed as an infielder/outfielder.

In a bit of a surprising move manager Don Mattingly chose Elbert over Paco Rodriguez as a second left-hand reliever. However, he said before Game 1 Friday that Rodriguez will stay with the team and travel to St. Louis during the series.

Right-hander Frias seemed a long shot to make the roster but Mattingly gave him the nod. Darwin Barney, Joc Pederson, Tim Federowicz and Roberto Hernandez are other non-roster players who will also travel with the team.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Los Angeles Dodgers Fans]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 08:22:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/163*120/10-03-2014-dodgers-fans+%281%29.jpg Fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers show pride in their favorite team.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Explains Trash Talking]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 16:30:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/KobeBryantNickYoungTrashTalk1022014_1200x675_337133635937.jpg Kobe Bryant talks about talking trash with Nick Young at LA Lakers practice on Oct. 2, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Kobe Bryant: "I'm Past Progressions...I'm Me"]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 18:16:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-Steve-Nash-Lakers-practice-10-1-2014.jpg

During Wednesday's morning practice, Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach Byron Scott allowed reporters to watch as Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash played in a full court scrimmage along with their Lakers teammates.

This was the first time the two 19-year veterans had played together in about a year and a half.

Wednesday, however, was not any regular pickup game with only coaches watching. Independent referees were onsite blowing whistles, and both teams were strategizing in separated huddles. For the final scrimmage of the morning practice, television cameras were recoring, reporters were tweeting and scouts were documenting every move. The stands may not have been filled with thousands of fans, but there is pressure in playing under the watchful eyes of the press, general manager Mitch Kupchak, team scouts and team owner Jim Buss.

Always in the spotlight, both Bryant and Nash looked great, and the veteran duo combined well. Scott’s post-practice press conference even started with the coach answering a question that was never asked: “Kobe looked good.”

On Wednesday, the rumors of Bryant and Nash’s deaths had been greatly exaggerated, it seemed. Coach Scott made a point to say he was most impressed by how sharp the duo looked considering the long layoffs both men had experienced. Barring any setbacks, the Lakers’ coach confirmed that both Nash and Bryant would start in the Lakers’ preseason opener in San Diego on Oct. 6.

After the practice ended, Bryant spoke with reporters and echoed the same sentiments as Tuesday’s practice. He was healthy. He felt fine. There was no checklist of tests. He was ready.

Bryant repeated “I feel good” and “I feel fine” numerous times to answer questions as he quickly lost patience with reporters’ questions.

“I’m past progressions,” Bryant said as he lost his patience with the questions about his health. “I am what I am right now. I don’t know how to best say that. I’m me.”



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Kemp Named NL Player of the Month for September]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 08:17:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/matt+kemp+photo+.jpg

Matt Kemp could call it a comeback but, instead, I’d bet he’d say - I’ve been here for years. Rockin’ my peers. Puttin’ suckas in fear.

The “puttin’ suckas in fear” part is debatable, giving his injury-plagued 2013 campaign and his tumultuous start to the 2014 season.

But, all is forgiven in La La Land.

Matt Kemp of 2011 reemerged during the second half of the season, playing the match to Adrian Gonzalez’s switch that sparked the Dodgers to their second straight NL West Division title.

For his work, Kemp was named Friday the National League Player of the Month for September. If there was any doubt he would win it, Kemp hushed it by going 2-for-2 with a double and a two-run home run in the regular season finale Sunday against the Rockies.

I’d say he had a pretty good month. The 30-year-old led the league with nine homers, 63 total bases, 21 runs scored and he tied Gonzalez for the league lead with 25 RBIs. He also hit .322 with a .700 slugging percentage and an insane OPS of 1.047.

And, to think, there was a lot of speculation about whether or not Kemp would even be a Dodger when the July 31 trade deadline started to hover.

Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti is quick to make the point that none of that talk came from him.

“He’s been great. You don’t miss as much time as he did the last two years and just come back 100 percent. It took him awhile to get his swing back.

“The second half of the season, really, from July on, he’s been one of the best players in the game,” Colletti said.

When you really look into that last statement, Colletti’s got a point.

Offensively, Kemp was two different players in each half.

Pre All-Star: 305 ABs, .269 AVG, 8 HRs, 35 RBIs, .330 OBP, .430 SLG, .760 OPS, 0.00 WAR
Post All Star: 236 ABs, .309 AVG, 17 HRs, 54 RBIs, .365 OBP, .606 SLG, .971 OPS, 1.8 WAR

It was quite a turnaround for a guy who struggled while recovering from a surgically repaired left ankle, was yanked out of center field for one misplayed ball too many and, in May, was relegated to a cheerleading fourth outfielder.

Sure, manager Don Mattingly deserves some credit for 1) having the guts to put the team over Kemp’s ego by moving him to left field and 2) not caring when his disgruntled star told SportsNet LA, the Dodgers flagship cable network, that “When it’s all said and done, I’m going to be playing center field again,” then moving Kemp to right.

But, ultimately, Kemp’s resurgence in 2014 can be summed up in one word: health.

He finally. Got. Healthy.

Kemp’s surgically repaired left shoulder, along with the left ankle, got right again. The speed may not be there and, truthfully, a 39-homer/40-steal season may never happen again. But, when the trademark, post-homer pose returned, with his left hand extending the bat to the sky like a gladiator hoisteing his sword at the start of battle, so did Matt Kemp.

The Dodgers are just hoping that he he’s licked his wounds from doing battle in 150 games, and he’s ready to slay all comers, starting Friday night, against a red clad army from St. Louis. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant, Lakers Complete First Practice]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 15:31:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Practice-Kobe-Bryant-9-30-2014.JPG

“That’s probably the most running I’ve ever done in an NBA practice. Actually, yea, it is, for sure,” Kobe Bryant proclaimed after the first day of the Los Angeles Lakers training camp had concluded. “I’ve never run this much at an NBA practice.”

More importantly, how did his body react to the extra conditioning?

“I feel fine,” Bryant said after the session. “[The coach] sat me out for the last 30 or 40 minutes or so of practice just to make sure that we stick to the plan of I have something left in the tank every single day. I mean, we did a tremendous amount of running.”

Bryant practiced for two hours and 15 minutes, Steve Nash practiced for 90 minutes and Xavier Henry missed the session due to back spasms. Apart from that, every other Lakers player took part for the complete session.

Although Bryant sat out the latter portion of the conditioning, the Lakers’ star was adamant that he did not have any physical hurdles left to overcome following an extended time on the sidelines due to an Achilles rupture and a fracture in his knee.

“I don’t need to do any more checklist stuff. I’m past that,” Bryant sounded frustrated of repeatedly explaining that he was fully recovered. “The physical check points are all done.”

For Nash, 90 minutes without an injury was an accomplishment. He told reporters his goal was to avoid injuries and to keep a close watch on his health—related to the nerve issue or otherwise.

“I think that’s a lot for me,” the 40-year-old Nash said about his 90 minutes of practicing. “I felt great. I could have kept going, but the problem is risk-reward. So, if I go past that, now you’re playing in dangerous territory.”

Everything considered, the Lakers’ first practice under Byron Scott went off without a hitch.

“Kobe looked good, Steve was in great shape,” Scott told a huddle of reporters afterward. “[Bryant] said he felt great. He wanted to go more. Right now, it’s just progression of going a little bit per day.”

Scott said he was confident he would be able to get his older guys well-conditioned without killing them, and the slow progression fit in line with that philosophy.

“[Nash and Bryant] will do the morning practice, and I still don’t think I’ll have them do the whole morning practice,” Scott was already looking ahead to Wednesday’s session. “But I want them to get the scrimmage in. I think that’s important for both of them because they haven’t played a lot of basketball over the last year.”

Tuesday, the Lakers successfully got through their first practice without incident. On Wednesday, Nash and Bryant will have their first team scrimmage.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Don't Count Out Kobe Bryant]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 09:29:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Kobe-Bryant-Lakers-Media-Day-2014.png

“He looked amazing,” 19-year-old Los Angeles Lakers rookie Julius Randle, who recently played a pick-up game of basketball with Kobe Bryant, described the 19-year veteran on Monday’s Media Day. “He’s just Kobe. He looks like he hasn’t lost a step. Can’t guard him. Defending. He’s just looks like Kobe.”

“He just refuses to lose,” Randle continued when asked about Bryant’s competitiveness. “When he’s working out, he doesn’t expect to miss any shots.”

Although the Lakers were not screaming the message from the tallest tower, one would be blind, deaf and dumb not to understand the underlying message of Lakers’ Media Day: Don’t count out no. 24 just yet.

Perhaps, no one understands Bryant’s progress and recovery better than Wesley Johnson. A quiet guy by nature, Johnson is an athletic freak who has been struggling to find his way in the league. After the conclusion of a disappointing 2013-14 season with the Lakers, Johnson’s return to the team was far from a foregone conclusion to those on the outside.

However, behind closed doors, Bryant and Johnson had been hard at work since April.

As Johnson recalled, he was sitting next to Bryant during the team’s final photo. There, Bryant turned to Johnson and said, “We have a lot of work to do this summer.”

Johnson agreed with the superstar without fully understanding what Bryant was talking about.

"Right after Easter, he hit me up, 'Are you ready to work?'" Johnson smiled. "He said, 'I'll be in the gym at 7 (a.m.)."

Johnson made a point to say Bryant did not ask him or tell him to join. He simply stated where he would be and at what time. Johnson turned up, and the two worked out together.

"The whole summer was pretty much repetition," Johnson spoke in his soft Texan accent. "From April to July, it was a big improvement. We ramped it up every month."

"We cleaned up a lot of my offensive game. No wasted motion," Johnson talked about how the sessions helped him personally improve. "It slowed the game down a lot for me."

The duo continued to work out together, but Johnson hesitated when speaking too directly about how strong Bryant looked. Johnson didn’t want to ruin the surprise, but he hardly sounded concerned about Bryant’s ability to return to playing at an elite level.

“I expect him to play 82 games and to play well,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said on Monday, adding that Bryant would probably average 23 to 24 points per game. “The biggest thing is for him to stay healthy and keeping his minutes to a minimum where he can play those 82 games.”

“I've had a chance to see him work out,” Scott said confidently. “I've had a chance to see him play five-on-five. He's far from retiring.”

Lakers management, Bryant’s teammates and Coach Scott appeared to believe Bryant would still be an effective player, even at 36 years of age. That now famous five-on-five where Bryant turned heads and converted non-believers consistently found its way into Media Day discussions.

“I really fouled him and he really made it, and I was impressed at that moment,” teammate Nick Young said he texted Bryant after the five-on-five game to let Bryant know that he had tried to foul him so that the Lakers’ all-time great would be unable to hit the game winning shot in the five-on-five scrimmage.

Bryant still made the shot, and the game ended with Young on the losing side.

Hearing the disbelief in Young’s voice, Bryant had seemingly made believers out of everyone in the locker room and on the coaching staff. But would Bryant be a different player?

“My game has sort of been my game since I figured it out in 2003, in terms of the basics of it,” Bryant responded at Media Day when asked about how he'd adjusted his game this season. “I haven’t really had to change too much of it.”

In his 19th season with the Lakers, don’t be surprised if Bryant looks like the same “Kobe.” From the sounds and sly smiles of his teammates, coaches and Lakers’ management, they would be surprised if he is anything less.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers: Jeremy Lin Tired of "Linsanity"]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 06:04:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jeremy-Lin-Over-Linsanity.jpg

During the Los Angeles Lakers Media Day, Jeremy Lin drew a healthy crowd of cameras, microphones and audio recorders. As would be expected, the topic of “Linsanity” and the miraculous story of a benchwarmer from Harvard taking over the storied New York Knicks and outplaying Kobe Bryant came up on a couple occasions.

At one point, a reporter even went so far as to ask a ridiculous question: “Would you like to start a ‘Win-sanity?”

“Sure, anything but ‘Linsanity,’” the Lakers’ point guard responded showing his tired attitude to the catch phrase constantly attached to his name. Was this a passing joke or truly how he felt about a period of time when Lin seemingly dominated the NBA and world news?

“I’ve been over ‘Linsanity,’” the Torrance-born California kid said.

After talking about all the jerseys he had donned including D-League jerseys, Lin talked glowingly about wearing the Lakers’ famous purple and gold. However, the subject and memory of ‘Linsanity’ persisted.

“Linsantiy is more like a one-off thing,” Lin explained. “It’s a short duration of time. I’m really looking to build a legacy, a long term thing, in terms of who I am as a person or who I am as a player. It’s kind of irritating to always be referred to as something of the past or some short time of the past.”

Lin dismissed the idea of recreating the “Linsanity” phenomenon with the Lakers because he did not believe it was possible.

“The thing about Linsanity that will never ever happen again is the element of surprise because no one knew who I was.” Lin explained. “And that will never happen again.”

During his time in front of the cameras, Lin insisted on discussing defense far more than he spoke glowingly of “Linsanity.” In his first year with the Lakers and in the last year of his contract, Lin is determined to improve as a player and build a legacy that is beyond the short-lived craze that gripped New York during the tail-end of 2011.

“If at the end of my career, I’m still talking about ‘Linsanity,’ then I didn’t do a good job of my career.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lasorda Wants Dodgers to Win World Series Before He Dies]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 09:41:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/171*120/tom+copy.jpg

I learned a very valuable lesson Sunday: When Tommy Lasorda speaks, have your recorder on.

After the Dodgers 10-5 shellacking of the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium to end the season, the organization held an on-field pep rally to give props to the team for a successful season and to rev up the base for the post-season run.

George Lopez was the master of ceremonies. One by one, players came up and saluted the crowd. 

Clayton Kershaw told them to bring white towels to wave during the playoffs. Justin Turner told them to "keep rockin'," and Yasiel Puig gave them a big kiss. 

Then came Lasorda. The former Dodgers manager, who’s never seen a microphone he couldn’t rock, couldn’t let the moment pass without a classic Tommy Lasorda this-will-get-them-going speech that only he can deliver.

Now, I wasn’t smart enough to have my recorder, you know, recording during Lasorda’s final riff, but Michael Lananna from MLB.com, was, and got it word for word:

It sent the crowd into a frenzy. It was incredible:

           "I want to tell you this, I just had a birthday; I was 87 years old. And before I die I want to see that championship flag flying out there in center field. ... I've got a great feeling about this team. I think we're going to do it, I think we're going to get to the Fall Classic, and then the big Dodger in the sky can take me away."

How great is that?!

He, basically, put the team on notice: Hey guys win the World Series, or run the risk of me dying a bitter old man.

If that thought doesn’t fire up the Dodgers, than Lasorda may as well pick out his casket now.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Season Starts With Media Day]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 07:59:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Media-Day-Kobe-Bryant.jpg

For the players, coaches, team staff and media, the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2014-15 season starts on Monday.

Starting Monday, the players will all be on the clock. They will answer questions, pose for photos, dress in team attire and conduct sit-down interviews. Monday is Media Day for the LA Lakers. The regular season may still be 29 days away, but for the players, coaches and media covering the team, Monday serves as the start of the new season. After a day in front of camera and microphones, the Lakers will go to bed not suffering from soreness one last time.

On Tuesday, the team will open training camp.

A single three-hour session is scheduled for the first day of camp, as the players and coaches expect to discuss philosophy and get in a work out. On Tuesday, new Lakers coach Byron Scott will assert his authority for the first time.

Actually, Wednesday likely serves as a better representation of the day Scott will truly make his presence felt. On Day 2 of training camp, Scott has scheduled two sessions, and that is not a rarity on the Lakers' training camp schedule. The Lakers will be doing two-a-days for the majority of the first week at camp, and it appears Scott’s hard-nosed reputation will not take long to impose itself on this Lakers team.

On Thursday, the team will again have a double session. An early afternoon session lasting two hours will set the table. Then, the purple and gold will reconvene for another two-hour session at dinner time.

On Friday, the team will only hold one early session and hope to skip the late afternoon Friday traffic. However, the players won’t be driving too far. On Saturday and Sunday, Scott has the team running two-a-days again.

The next day, on Monday, Oct. 6, the Lakers will be in San Diego to play the Denver Nuggets in their first game of the preseason. Starting in San Diego, the Lakers will play eight preseason games over the next 20 days, including one stretch of three games in four nights, all of which are in different cities.

Monday may only be Media Day, but it is the unofficial start of the 2014-15 LA Lakers season.

NBCLA.com will have daily reports from training camp, have a report on every preseason game and cover the LA Lakers throughout the 2014-15 season. Check back at NBCLA.com/TripleThreat throughout the season.

2014-15 LA Lakers Training Camp Roster: Nick Young, Jordan Clarkson, Jeremy Lin , Keith Appling, Xavier Henry, Ed Davis, Wayne Ellington, Ronnie Price, Kobe Bryant, Jeremy Tyler, Steve Nash, Jordan Hill, Ryan Kelly, Wesley Johnson, Julius Randle, Carlos Boozer, Roscoe Smith, Robert Sacre, Jabari Brown



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Get Cards in NLDS, Have Chance at Revenge]]> Sun, 28 Sep 2014 21:15:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/163*120/celeb+copy.jpg

It took until the last game of the season for it to fall in place, but the Dodgers-Cardinals playoff rematch is all set.

They’ll tangle in the National League Division Series, with Game 1 Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

The Pirates helped set it up by losing to the Reds, 4-1, in the last game of the season Sunday, giving the Cardinals the NL Central title before they even took the field.

Last year the Cardinals ended the Dodgers season in the National League Championship Series by rocking Clayton Kershaw, en route to a, 9-0, win in Game 6.

Adrian Gonzalez says this time around his squad will be better.

“We got our whole outfield healthy. Hanley [Ramirez] is healthy. We, basically, got our whole team healthy. It looks like [Hyun-Jin] Ryu will be able to pitch, so I think going into it healthy will be a big factor,” the Dodger first baseman told reporters after Sunday’s game.

A good portion of their prep time will be spent studying video, but Gonzalez says he’s pretty well versed on what to expect from Cardinals pitchers.

“They’re a team that in big situations they don’t like to throw fastballs. That’s one thing that I already know, that they like to go soft in big situations,” he said.

Gonzalez knows a little about what he’s talking about. He hit .300 (6-for-20) with two doubles, two home runs and three RBI’s in last year’s series.

The Dodgers go into the NLDS on a five-game winning streak. The Cardinals finished the season taking two of the three from the Diamondbacks.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Prospects Win Organization’s Top Honors ]]> Sat, 27 Sep 2014 10:20:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*130/joc.jpg

They could be the Dodgers next big three in a few years.

Julio Urias, 18, Corey Seager, 20, and Joc Pederson, 22, all dominated their respective competition this season and, Friday, Urias was named the Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher of the Year, and Seager and Pederson were named co-Minor League Players of the Year.

The players were honored before Friday night’s game against the Rockies.

Pederson, who also won player of the year in 2012, has ascended to the big leagues after torching the Pacific Coast League at Triple-A Albuquerque. The Palo Alto, California native’s league-leading 33 homers and 30 steals capped off the fourth 30-home run/30-stolen base season in PCL history.

He also led the league in runs scored (106), walks (100), on-base percentage (.435), he tied for first in OPS (1.017), and he was second in total bases (259). Pederson was named the league’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year.

Seager had a breakout 2014 season. The Dodgers number-two prospect, according to Baseball America, split time between Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Chattanooga, and raked in each place.

In 80 games for the Quakes, Seager hit .352 with 18 home runs and 70 RBIs. After his promotion to the Lookouts, he hit .345 in 38 games. His 50 total doubles were the most in the minor leagues, and his 75 extra-base hits ranked second. He was named the California League's Most Valuable Player, and he represented the U.S. at Major League Baseball’s Futures Game during All-Star weekend.

Urias may be the most intriguing of the trio. At 17 years old, he was the youngest player in the California League but his skill set defies his age. He’s only 5-feet-11-inches tall and a 160 pounds, but his fastball has been clocked as high as 95 MPH. The Dodgers have kept a close eye on youngster, limiting his pitch counts and innings over his first two minor league seasons.

His 2014 campaign showed that Urias may be closer to being big league ready than expected. In 87 ⅔ innings he struck out 109 batters, walked 37 and held opposing hitters to a .194 batting average. The relatively small sample size was enough to convince MLB he’s the real deal, as Urias was named to the World Team for the Futures Game.

Previous winners of the Pitcher and Player over the Year awards currently on the Dodgers Major League club: Chad Billingsley, Dee Gordon and Scott Van Slyke.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>