<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Triple Threat]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/blogs/triple-threat http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:52:50 -0800 Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:52:50 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Hornets Swarm Lakers 104-103]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:05:26 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jeremy-Lin-Lakers.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers kicked off their three-game road trip with a 104-103 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. In a fiery game that started out as a competitive contest, the Lakers did not return for the second half with the correct level of sharpness, rallied back in the fourth quarter but ultimately threw the game away late.

For the first half, Lakers guards Jeremy Lin and Jordan Clarkson helped LA to 50 points. Lin led the team with six assists at the intermission, and Clarkson led LA in scoring with 11 points at halftime. Carlos Boozer managed 10 points and eight rebounds, which would eventually lead to the forward's 10th double-double of the season.

For the Hornets, Al Jefferson lived up to his well-earned reputation and led all scorers with 13 points at the break. Mo Williams, who has been a catalyst for the Hornets since joining the team at the trade deadline, matched fellow backcourt mate Gerald Henderson with seven points and four assists.

With the game tied at 50-50, the Lakers came out flat and fell behind by double digits. Henderson led the home side with eight points in the third quarter, but all five of the Hornets' starters made at least one basket in the period.

Down 11 points less than five minutes into the second half, the Lakers fought back to trim the lead to only four points by the end of the third quarter. Clarkson, Boozer and Lin led the rally and combined for 14 of the Lakers' 20 points in the quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Lakers earned another boost from Lin. The Lakers' backup point guard took the initiative early in the period to keep the Lakers close and even tie the game a couple times. However, Lin wasn't perfect. He committed three horrendous errors--the last of which took the air out of the Lakers' late rally.

Clarkson, who returned to the game with slightly fewer than four minutes remaining, got a couple open looks from behind the three-point line, but the rookie could not hit. Lin's late trio of turnovers combined with Clarkson's long-range misses hurt the Lakers' chances and lost the game ultimately.

Eventually, the one-point loss only looked that close due to late missed free throws by the Hornets and a futile made three-pointer by Lin at the final buzzer.

On the whole, both Lin and Clarkson played well. Clarkson finished with 19 points and four assists, while Lin led all scorers with 23 points and added eight assists and six rebounds. Boozer finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds despite not playing any of the fourth quarter.

Next, the Lakers play the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Hit Road, Hornets on Tuesday]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 13:39:08 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-hit-road-Charlotte.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers took an early flight to North Carolina on Monday morning to prepare for a daunting three-game road trip that involves the Lakers playing in three different cities over four nights.

First up, the Lakers meet the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday evening. At 24-33, the Hornets boast a considerably better record than the Lakers (16-42), but the Hornets have only won six games against the Western Conference. Tuesday's game in Charlotte promises to be competitive even if the Lakers enter with only 10 healthy bodies. Nick Young's status is listed as questionable, but considering he has yet to practice or even take part in shootaround, the natural scorer will likely sit out Tuesday's contest.

If Young misses Tuesday's game, he will have missed four games due to a sore left knee. The Lakers are 2-1 without their sixth man following the All-Star break.

After Tuesday's game wraps up, the Lakers will catch a flight to Miami and arrive in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Wednesday night, the Lakers and "El Heat" will meet in a Noche Latina contest that will feature Miami's Latin themed jerseys. Even with Chris Bosh out, Goran Dragic and the Heat do not promise any gifts to the Lakers. Playing on the second night of a back-to-back and shorthanded, the Lakers would be lucky to stay competitive in South Beach.

To cap off the road trip, the Lakers will turn up in Memphis to face the hometown Grizzlies. The Memphis Grizzlies may not create headlines off the court, but on the court, only two teams have better records in the NBA this season: Golden State and Atlanta. The Grizzlies may not draw huge ratings, but Memphis is dominating the regular season and built for the playoffs. Seeing the Grizzlies in the NBA Finals would not be a shock to anyone who has seen this team in action.

Before Miami and Memphis, however, the Lakers will tip off their three-game road trip in Charlotte on Tuesday evening. Since it is an East Coast game, the Lakers and Grizzlies will start the clock at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Is Lin a Good Fit For Lakers?]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 10:25:23 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jeremy-Lin-3-3-15.jpg

Jeremy Lin has not always covered himself in glory since joining the Los Angeles Lakers via trade in the summer of 2014. Playing next to Kobe Bryant proved to be a challenge for the 26-year-old, and his worst night came against his hometown Golden State Warriors on Nov. 16 when he finished with zero points in 22 minutes.

For the first 20 games of the season, Lin started every game and averaged 11.9 points, 4.9 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 29.8 minutes per game. Although Lin shot 46 percent from the field, he turned the ball over 2.7 times per game and never quite looked comfortable next to Bryant in the backcourt.

Lin's move to the bench did not exactly instill confidence in the point guard, and his play suffered. In his first 33 games off the pine, Lin's production and minutes dipped. Lin averaged only 8.9 points to go along with 4.2 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game. In only 22.2 minutes per game, the point guard averaged 2.1 turnovers per game as a backup for Ronnie Price and, later, for rookie Jordan Clarkson.

Entering the All-Star break with the Lakers stumbling to a 13-40 record, Lin did not look like a guy the Lakers would look to re-sign. However, a week off provided the Torrance-born kid new perspective on his basketball life. Following the break, Lin looks like the player the Lakers hoped for when they made the trade to acquire him.

In the five games following the break, Lin is averaging 17.0 points, 5.0 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game. Adding to the growth in stats, Lin is averaging 0.6 turnovers per game and has yet to commit more than one statistical error in a game.

To reward Lin's improved production and efficiency, Lakers coach Byron Scott provided the Harvard graduate with added minutes, especially in the fourth quarter.

"The ball is given to me basically every possession of the fourth quarter," Lin said after Sunday's loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. "I'm the quarterback of everything going on. Wasn't able to get the job done."

While Lin did not lead LA to victory on Sunday, his 20 points, eight assists and six rebounds helped LA keep the scoreline respectable. In two of the Lakers' last four games, Lin has been the best player of the team. Lin probably made that case twice in the first 50 games of the season. However, if he manages to continue on this level of form, the Lakers may start thinking the point guard may be worth bringing back next season.

If Lin can quarterback the Lakers down the stretch and show consistency for the final 24 games, the Lakers may be wise to bring back Lin, even if it is only to play in a backup role. If nothing else, Lin is about the only Lakers' point guard not to get injured over that past three years.

While not alone in playing for his future, Lin has been afforded a rare opportunity of playing point guard for the Lakers down the stretch. How he handles the extra pressure and responsibility should determine if Scott and the Lakers want Lin around beyond the current season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Stormed by Thunder]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 20:42:26 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Thunder-3-1-15.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakere came into Sunday's contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder with the possibility of extending their three-game winning streak to a season-high of four games. Even without Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant available due to injuries, the Thunder had no interest in rolling over for the Lakers.

D.J. Augustin led the Thunder with 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists to give the Thunder a slight cushion in the race for the playoffs. Westbrook underwent facial surgery after taking a blow to the face in Oklahoma City's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.

With the stars out for the visitors, Serge Ibaka, Enes Kanter, Nick Collison and the Thunder's supporting cast stepped forward and took care of the lackluster Lakers.

To be fair to the Lakers, they were without Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, Ronnie Price, Julius Randle and Steve Nash for Sunday's game. Young is the only player on the aforementioned list expected to return this season, as the Lakers' sixth man is suffering with a sore left knee.

When searching for positives in the loss, the Lakers did manage to continue sharing the ball. Jeremy Lin, in particular, continued his strong play following the All-Star break. Lin would finish as the Lakers' leading scorer and leading assist man with 20 points and eight assists to go along with six rebounds.

Starting shooting guard Wayne Ellington also continued his strong play by stepping up to help a short-handed and inexperienced backcourt. Ellington finished with 12 points, six assists and six rebounds to lead the starting unit.

As a team, however, the Lakers never found their groove on Sunday and never led in the contest. Although the Thunder did not gain true separation until the fourth quarter, the Lakers did not threaten the Thunder for the entire second half.

When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read "Lakers 101, Thunder 108."

Next, the Lakers take an early Monday morning flight to Charlotte to play the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Streaking Lakers Host Thunder]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 14:59:16 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Thunder-2-28-15.jpg

If the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, they will have their first four-game winning streak of the season, meaning the Lakers are suddenly playing their best basketball of the season.

With Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant both out due to injuries, the Lakers have an opportunity to win a game they normally would be expected to lose by 20 points. Rather than focusing on Lakers' fan frustrations with their team winning games and the confusing emotions of Laker fans at the tail end of the 2014/15 season, why not focus on why the Lakers are winning these games?

Firstly, the Lakers have won three straight games since Carlos Boozer returned to the starting lineup. Are the wins all due to Boozer? Over the winning streak, Boozer is averaging 12.0  points and 6.7 rebounds per game in 23.7 minutes per game. On the season, the veteran averages 12.5 points and 6.9 rebounds in 24.7 minutes, so the role of starter has not led to much of a deviance in Boozer's individual contributions.

However, the team as a whole is playing better, and a large part of that is Jeremy Lin's recent positive play. Following the All-Star break, Lin has come back to play his best basketball as a Laker. In the four games following the mid-season break, Lin averaged 16.3 points, 4.3 assists and 2.0 rebounds. Most importantly, the backup point guard made better decisions and only averaged only 0.5 turnovers per game.

After an uninspired start to his first season with the Lakers, Lin has cut down on turnovers, while increasing his scoring and improving his efficiency. Lin is averaging about six more points and two fewer turnovers per game following the All-Star break. Also, the 26-year-old is shooting 50 percent from the field over the past four games.

Lin is not alone in his improved play, as the Lakers' players appear to be gaining understanding with each other and playing with team balance. Whether it is Jordan Clarkson and Wayne Ellington providing points in the back court or Robert Sacre scoring in double figures in five of his last nine games in the front court, the Lakers have been playing better basketball on the whole following a 13-40 record entering the All-Star break.

While a large contingent of fans may be rooting against the Lakers from home, the fans in the stands sound appreciative of the Lakers improving, playing hard, winning games and occasionally sending fans home with tacos.

Tip-off is 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time. 

Notes: Nick Young will miss his third straight game. Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Julius Randle and Ronnie Price are long-term absences.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Beat Bucks 101-93]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 02:41:13 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Bucks-wayne-ellington.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers won again on Friday night, as they beat the Milwaukee Bucks 101-93 at Staples Center behind a balanced effort that resulted in six players scoring in double figures.

With the victory, the Lakers won their 16th game of the season but continued to hold the fourth worst record in the NBA. On social media, fans were livid with the victory, as it moved the team further from guaranteeing a top-five draft pick. If the Lakers don't finish with a top five pick, they lose their top draft pick as part of the Steve Nash trade.

"At the end of the day, we are competitors," guard Wayne Ellington said after the win. "We're not coming out here trying to lose any game."

Ellington missed all six of his shots in the first three quarters before catching fire and hitting six of seven shots for 14 points in the fourth quarter. Quick to heap praise onto his teammates, the 27-year-old out of the University of North Carolina credited Jeremy Lin with finding him to get him going.

Off the bench, Lin played an efficient game and finished with 14 points, six assists and five rebounds with no turnovers. Lin would finish the game, and the 26-year-old earned due praise from his coach after the game.

"What I saw tonight was a guy who was aggressive, just playing the way we asked him to play," Lakers coach Byron Scott said after the game. "He's had an up-and-down season, just like a lot of our guys have, but in the last few games, he's really starting to get into a little bit of a groove. I think he's played extremely well."

While Lin took over finishing duties, Jordan Clarkson continued to display positive signs as a starting point guard. The 22-year-old rookie followed up on his career-high night against the Utah Jazz with a team-high 16 points to go along with five assists and four rebounds. On the night, Clarkson only missed two shots and only turned the ball over once.

Friday's game, however, came down to the final 12 minutes after the Lakers allowed an early 10-point lead transform into an 11-point deficit early in the fourth quarter. Tenacious defense and balanced scoring helped the Lakers out-score the Bucks 36 to 21 in the final 12 minutes to run away with a victory. Having Ellington catch fire certainly didn't hurt the cause.

Next, the LA Lakers will host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday afternoon in an early 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time start at Staples Center.

Notes: Nick Young missed his second straight game with a sore left knee. The Lakers are 3-0 since Carlos Boozer moved back into the starting lineup. Everyone won tacos.

Photo Credit: Getty Images 2015]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Beat Bucks: Post-game]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 23:43:06 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LakersbeatBucks22715_1200x675_405813315642.jpg The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 27, 2015, and Lakers coach Byron Scott, forward Ed Davis and guard Wayne Ellington discussed the victory.]]> <![CDATA[Los Lakers Come Back in March]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 20:01:10 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Los-Lakers-Noche-Latina.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers have proudly celebrated the NBA's Latin Nights program by flaunting their "Los Lakers" jerseys for several years. For the vast majority of those seasons, the Lakers featured a Spanish speaking player, namely Pau Gasol.

With Gasol gone, the Lakers only had the options of Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant, as non-native Spanish speakers. However, neither player is available to play, so "Los Lakers" will be more English speaking than ever before.

Even though the players may not speak Spanish, the Lakers' certainly do. With the introduction of the Los Lakers Twitter account and Spanish language content on their website, the Lakers have embraced their Hispanic fanbase.

"We take immense pride in the initiatives and programs we've undertaken with Spanish speaking and Hispanic communities throughout our history, and are happy to continue these efforts by participating in this league program," Lakers President Jeanie Buss said in a statement.

The Lakers will first take part in Latin Nights when they take on "El Heat" on Mar. 4 in Miami. However, the team will not debut the 2015 edition of "Los Lakers" until Mar. 8, 2015, when the Dallas Mavericks come to LA. For both games, the Lakers will take wear special shooting warmup shirts to commemorate the occasion.

In all, 14 NBA games will include a special Latin flavor during the month of March. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Going Hunting For Bucks]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:23:37 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Bucks-feb-27-15.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks meet on Friday night at Staples Center, as the Lakers look to avenge an overtime loss from earlier in the month.

After missing the win over Utah, Nick Young's status was officially upgraded to "questionable" as the natural scorer continues to battle a swollen knee. Based on prior practices, Young likely will not see the court until his coach is comfortable watching the player participate in practice. 

Apart from Young, the Lakers have 10 healthy bodies for the remainder of the season, and all 10 of them should be available to play on Friday night. Lakers' coach Byron Scott confirmed that he will stick with the same starting five that led the Lakers to consecutive victories: Jordan Clarkson, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Kelly, Carlos Boozer and Robert Sacre.

If the Lakers can win on Friday night, they will match their longest winning streak of the season. The only other time the Lakers won three games in a row, Kobe Bryant capped off the third victory by passing Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list.

Over two months later, the Lakers look to match the modest feat of winning three consecutive games during the course of an 82-game season.

After doing final preparations with the team on Friday morning, Scott talked with NBCLA.com and touched on three players in particular: Wesley Johnson, Jeremy Lin and Clarkson.

Following the benching against Brooklyn, Johnson came back and scored 22 points, which was a season high, against the Celtics. Scott joked that he should bench the lanky wing player every other game.

"If I do that every other game, he'll probably average about 20 [points]," Scott laughed.

On the topic of Lin, Scott said that he thought the 26-year-old point guard played better in a backup role than a starting role.

"I think he's responded better of the bench, to be honest with you," Scott said of Lin. "But I think there's going to be a point in time with these last 20-something games to go that I'll put him back in the starting lineup just to see how that goes."

Scott added, "[Lin] hasn't started in a while, so you almost tend to forget his body of work--those 15-20 games when he did start. So, I want to go back to that just to see how that looks, but I think he's been better off the bench for us over all."

On the subject of Clarkson, NBCLA.com asked Scott if he thought the rookie point guard needed to work more on his distribution or scoring.

"He has a natural instinct to score," Scott said of Clarkson. "Trying to help him to see the floor a little bit better, to see the situations a little bit better, to read defenses a little bit better are all the things we're trying to do now."

Scott said the game is still probably too fast for the rookie, but he is showing improvement and learning to control the pace. With regards to calling plays, Scott said that he still calls 75 percent of the plays from the bench, but he would like to see that number drop to 50 percent by the end of the season.

Clarkson, Lin and Johnson should all see extended time when the Lakers take on the Bucks at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Practice: Clarkson and "Tanking"]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 06:11:42 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-tanking-2-26.jpg

At Thursday's practice, the Los Angeles Lakers talked about Jordan Clarkson's career game against Utah and dug into the topic of "tanking."

"Hell with that, man," Wayne Ellington said when asked about fans rooting for the team to lose. "Me personally, I'm a competitor. I've never stepped on the court or anything I do in life trying to lose at it."

Lakers coach Byron Scott echoed the same sentiment. After his team had won two in a row, the coach was not hanging his head or asking for forgiveness. Instead, the coach revealed he checked his Instagram account for the first time this year, and the comments he saw on there had the coach calling the "tanking" segment of fans "ridiculous."

"We're not trying to 'tank' games. That's absurd," Scott said at Thursday's practice. "We're going to try to win every game, and whatever happens after that with the lottery pick happens. But I think if you go into it saying 'we're going to lose every game to get the best pick,' I think it backfires on you."

Scott added, " We're trying to build a culture here of guys understanding that you have to come and play hard every single night, especially on the defensive end to give yourself a chance to be successful."

Scott also admitted that guys not having the luxury of long-term contracts on the roster needed to play hungry, and the coach still wielded his power over playing time. The combination ensured that the team would continue to play hard.

When the topic turned to Clarkson and the rookie's recent form, the dark talk of 'tanking' subsided and gave way to the bright future of the 22-year-old rookie.

"I think [Clarkson] see's all the guys that were picked higher than him and I think it is added motivation for him," Scott hypothesized. "He's got a little chip on his shoulder."

When asked whether he singled out players drafted ahead of him, Clarkson said his teammates had been coming to him before games and pointing to other rookies considered better than the Lakers' second round pick on draft day.

"I just use it as motivation," Clarkson said before giving it further thought. "I might have more motivation to go after some of the established stars."

Whatever the motivation, Clarkson appears to be developing and out-performed first round point guards Marcus Smart and Dante Exum in back-to-back games. Next, the Lakers go for their third straight win when they host the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night at Staples Center.

Notes: Nick Young did not practice, so he should be out for the next game. Sunday also sounded unlikely, but Scott said he did not consider the injury to be serious. 

<![CDATA[Ed Davis Talks Clarkson, B-Scott]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 21:30:58 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LakerspracticeEdDavis_video_1200x675_405059651759.jpg Lakers forward Ed Davis talks about rookie Jordan Clarkson and coach Byron Scott at practice on Feb. 26, 2015]]> <![CDATA[Jordan Clarkson Has Career Night, Lakers Win]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 04:04:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Jordan-Clarkson-2-25.jpg

On Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers won their second game in a row, topping the Utah Jazz 100-97 with rookie Jordan Clarkson leading all scorers and setting a new career-high with 22 points.

Through the first 43 minutes and 58 seconds, the Lakers never tasted the lead. Utah led by double digits at multiple points in the game, but the Lakers continued to rally and put forth effort. In the fourth quarter, the Jazz opened up a 13-points lead, but the Lakers again fought back late to take a lead. A sloppy finish would end with made free throws and Gordon Hayward failing to launch a potential game-tying three pointer before the final buzzer.

On the night, Clarkson had the best game of his young career. He made 10 of his 16 shots for 22 points to go along with four rebounds, three assists and two steals. In addition to being a standout player on the winning team, Clarkson also provided the highlight of the night with a poster dunk over fellow rookie Dante Exum.

On the play, Clarkson stole the ball on Exum's pass and ran down to the opposite end. When Utah's first round pick challenged the Lakers' second round pick at the rim, two beat one. Not only did the rookie finish through the contact, but he also came down flexing his muscles and posing like a body builder.

In the head-to-head rookie match up, Clarkson topped Exum by some distance, as the fifth overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft finished with only three points, there assists and two turnovers.

For the Lakers, starting shooting guard Wayne Ellington also continued his development by recording the first double-double of his career. Ellington finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds. The 27-year-old would finish as one of five Lakers to score in double figures.

Off the bench, Ed Davis finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, and Jordan Hill found his jump shot to the tune of 16 points. Over all, the bench and the starters fought on the road and refused to lose despite trailing big.

From a development standpoint, Wednesday night was a step forward. Next, the Lakers host the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night at Staples Center.

Notes: The Lakers only committed 10 turnovers compared to 21 turnovers for the Jazz. This is the Lakers' first two-game winning streak since Dec. 14, over two months earlier. The Lakers moved to 15-41 on the season and continue to hold the fourth worst record in the NBA.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Face Jazz: Preview]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:25:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-at-Jazz-1.jpg

On Wednesday evening, the LA Lakers and Utah Jazz meet for only the second time during the 2014/15 NBA season. In the first meeting, the Lakers lost 95-84, as Gordan Hayward scored 31 points at Staples Center.

About a month later, the Lakers enter EnergySolutions Arena with only 10 available players. Nick Young will miss the game due to a swollen left knee, and the 29-year-old missed Monday and Tuesday's practice with the issue. Robert Sacre will be avaialble despite missing Monday's practice. Sacre was able to go through Tuesday's session after recovering from a swollen left foot.

With the Lakers announcing Ronnie Price had successful elbow surgery on Wednesday, the Lakers now have four players likely out for the season. Price is expected to be out six to eight weeks, which means the point guard could potentially return for the last few games of the season. Rookie Julius Randle remains sidelined with a leg break, Kobe Bryant is on the shelf with a shoulder injury and Steve Nash is out due to a back issue.

For Wednesday's game, Lakers coach Byron Scott is sticking with the same starters as the Sunday's win over the Boston Celtics. However, the Lakers played their best basketball when the bench unit came in. From that unit, Young and Price will be massive losses.

Likely, rookie Jordan Clarkson and fellow point guard Jeremy Lin will need to play heavy minutes with the Lakers thin at the point guard position. With Young out, Wesley Johnson likely will not play at the power forward position, and the Lakers should rely on rookie Tarik Black. Black only managed four minutes against Boston.

On the season, the Lakers only have 14 wins and Utah only has 21 wins, so this is not a mismatch on paper. That being said, Utah has won four of its last five games, including wins over Portland and San Antonio. Not surprising, the Lakers do not enter Wednesday's game as favorities. While that may be common this season, the Lakers may well not be favored in another game for the remainder of the season: home or away.

The Los Angeles Lakers face the Utah Jazz at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ronnie Price: Elbow Surgery]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 16:31:50 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Ronnie-Price-elbow-surgery.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers announced that Ronnie Price will undergo surgery on his injured right elbow. The surgery will take place on Wednesday, and Price expects to miss the remainder of the 2014/15 season, according to coach Byron Scott.

"He's having elbow surgery tomorrow, so he'll be out for the year," Scott confirmed at Tuesday's practice.

With Price out, the Lakers will have four players on the shelf for the remainder of the season: Price, Julius Randle, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. For practice and for games, the Lakers will only have 11 available players for the remainder of the season.

Along with losing a veteran, the Lakers are also short on point guards. Only rookie Jordan Clarkson and Jeremy Lin remain as healthy options to bring the ball up the court, as the skinny Lakers get even thinner.

Price appeared in 43 games and started 20 of them. He averaged 5.1 points, 1.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.6 steals in 22.8 minutes per game for the Lakers. Although his offensive production may not appear vital, Price provided the Lakers with an experienced point guard who was one the the coach's favorites, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

In his final appearance of the season, Price finished with three points, four rebounds, four steals and five assists in 18 minutes of game time. Players and coaches credited Price with changing the tide against the Celtics and helping the Lakers snap a seven-game losing streak on Sunday.

Price's future with the team remains unclear, as the 31-year-old was one of the last players added to the Lakers' roster ahead of training camp.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Not Enjoying Losing Lakers]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 11:53:25 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-NBA-Finals.jpg

Kobe Bryant has won five titles and is known for being a no nonsense competitor.

Well, Bryant went on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Monday night, and the late night talk show host could not resist showing one of the most competitive players in the history of sports a clip of his teammates celebrating a regular season victory like it was game seven of the NBA Finals.

The LA Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in overtime on Sunday night, and Jeremy Lin attempted to do a post game interview with Time Warner Cable sideline reporter Mike Trudel. After winning for the first time in eight games, teammates Nick Young, Jordan Hill and Carlos Boozer interrupted the interview to comedic effect.

"You want to win," Bryant told Kimmel when asked if he preferred the team to struggle or succeed without the future Hall-of-Fame inductee available to play. "It's hard to be in the environment when we're literally at the bottom of the league."

Then, Kimmel said, "I must know what your reaction to this is," as he showed Bryant the clip of Young, Hill, Boozer and Lin celebrating only their 14th win of the 2014/15 season on the court. The over-the-top joy on display gave the audience laughs.

The five-time NBA champion fell silent, as Kimmel asked, "Would that happen if you were there?"

Bryant could not bring himself to comment on the celebration, but his face said it all:

In positive news, during his time on the late night show, Bryant revealed that his sling came off about 45 minutes before the taping. Bryant hopes to be back for training camp and is expected to play one more season. Once he's back, the Lakers probably will not be celebrating snapping seven-game losing streaks by shouting "We back in the building" into the microphone.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Practice: Young, Sacre Injuries]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 13:49:19 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Nick-Young-Rob-Sacre.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers left the floor smiling, hopping and jumping with joy on Sunday evening after beating their rival Boston Celtics in overtime.

About 12 hours later, the Lakers met for practice in El Segundo, but the team could not muster up 12 healthy bodies. Nick Young's left knee grew to a big enough size that the team announced that the 29-year-old would see a doctor later in the afternoon.

Starting center Robert Sacre attempted to practice, but his sore left foot forced him off the court. Sacre will also visit the medicine man on Monday afternoon, and both players' statuses for Wednesday's game in Utah is to be determined.

The Lakers had 12 healthy bodies for the past couple games, which was an anomaly this season. With the healthy bodies, Lakers coach Byron Scott actually sat two players out of Friday's loss to the Brooklyn Nets. On Sunday, Scott found time for all 12 guys, but rookie Tarik Black only played four minutes.

If Sacre cannot go, Black may jump from potentially sitting out Wednesday's game to starting. If Young is unable to go, the Lakers would likely rely on Wesley Johnson to play heavy minutes. Johnson had his best game of the season against the Celtics, finishing with a season high 22 points.

However, Young would be a huge loss, as the Lakers' backup small forward finished with 19 points on Sunday, which was his highest total in over a month.

With the Lakers short on wing positions, Ryan Kelly will likely stay in the starting lineup and may even get more time on the court if Young misses Wednesday's game.

"I think most people understand that the four is more of my natural position," Kelly said after Monday's practice. "But, like I said from the beginning, the opportunity to play at the three position and also in the future to play some minutes there--the more you can do on the floor, the more valuable you are."

"I think it's more of a roster makeup," Kelly explained why he is playing out of position. "I don't think it's me having a lack of something for [the power forward] position. I think we just have a lot of bigs and we don't have a lot of wings, so we need somebody. And I'm somebody who has a little bit of ball friendliness and can play facing the basket."

The Lakers intend to practice on Tuesday before flying up to Utah.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Beat Celtics in Overtime]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 13:27:33 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Celtics-Feb-22-15.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have a storied rivalry that accounts for heated summer meetings in the NBA Finals and icy cold encounters in the regular season.

"I enjoy this a lot more," Lakers coach Byron Scott responded when asked if he enjoyed beating the Celtics. "I'm a happy man tonight."

On Sunday evening at Staples Center, the Lakers nearly gave away the game in regulation before securing a 118-111 victory in overtime. Off the bench, Jeremy Lin and Wesley Johnson led LA with 25 points and 22 points, respectively. For both, Sunday night marked season highs in the scoring category.

However, as the Lakers' locker room celebrated the victory , one could not help but fixate on the collapse that forced the game into overtime. With 1:28 to play in regulation, the home team led by nine points after Nick Young hit a 12-foot fadeaway jumper.

Over the next 88 seconds, the Lakers would commit two turnovers and miss a free throw. With Boston holding the ball and trailing by three points, Lakers coach Byron Scott opted not to foul. Instead, Avery Bradley managed to get a clean look at the basket and hit a three-pointer to beat the buzzer.

"That's twice that I've been thinking about it, and they've hit a three to send it to overtime," Scott said about fouling to avoid giving up a three. "So, I don't know if I'll think about it next time. I might just do it."

Not for the first time in the 2014/15 season, the LA Lakers had allowed a lead to dissipate at the end of regulation.

In overtime, the Lakers' defense picked up, while Lin and Carlos Boozer both chipped in four points in the extra period. Boozer, incidentally, finished as the only starter to score in double figures after failing to see the floor only one game earlier. The veteran forward would finish with 12 points and played the center position to finish the game.

Apart from Boozer, the Lakers relied heavily on their bench. Including Lin and Johnson, four Lakers scored in double figures with Young adding 19 points and Jordan Hill adding 10 points to the total. Point guard Ronnie Price fouled out in only 18 minutes of play, but the backup point guard finished with five assists and four steals. Scott credited the veteran for helping change the complexion of the game.

"I think Ronnie turned the game around," Scott said afterwards. "With his aggressiveness on the defensive end, he caused some turnovers, and the way he was playing Isaiah [Thomas], I thought he turned the game around."

In the first quarter, the Celtics jumped out to an early nine-point lead. However, with Price setting up the offense, Lin driving and Johnson playing with confidence, the Lakers managed to turn the tide and take their first lead midway through the second quarter. From there, a back-and-forth contest would ultimately be decided by five solid minutes of overtime.

Sunday's victory provided LA with its 14th win of the season, but even the fans praying for losses with the hopes of earning the best possible draft pick had to enjoy beating the hated Celtics. Regardless of the records, the Lakers always relish a victory over the Celtics, and Sunday evening featured fans, players and coaches all leaving Staples Center grinning.

Next, the Lakers play the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Beat Celtics in Rivalry Game]]> Sun, 22 Feb 2015 22:43:21 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LakersBeatCelticsRivalryGame_1200x675_402761795734.jpg The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in a rivalry game, and Nick Young and Byron Scott spoke about the rivalry. Recorded on Feb. 22, 2015]]> <![CDATA[Jeremy Lin: Lakers-Celtics Postgame]]> Sun, 22 Feb 2015 23:33:19 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LakersCelticsJeremyLin222_1200x675_402764355979.jpg Lakers guard Jeremy Lin spoke about the importance of getting a win, especially against the Boston Celtics in the Lakers' locker room on Feb. 22, 2015]]> <![CDATA[LA Changes Lineups For Celtics]]> Sun, 22 Feb 2015 13:28:17 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-host-Celtics-2-22.jpg

The last time the Los Angeles Lakers played the Boston Celtics, they suffered a humiliating loss, leading Lakers coach Byron Scott to change his lineup.

At that point, the Lakers had won only five of the first 15 games of the season. Looking back, that starting stretch may have been the best the Lakers have looked during the 2014-15 season. Since then, the Lakers have only won eight of 34 games, as the season has continued to spiral out of control. Entering Sunday's contest, the Lakers have lost seven in a row.

With the Celtics visiting the Lakers on Sunday, Scott again decided to make a change to his starters. Carlos Boozer, who did not play in Friday's loss to the New Jersey Nets, will return to the starting five in place of rookie Tarik Black. Jordan Clarkson, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Kelly and Robert Sacre will all remain in the starting lineup according to Scott.

Factored into the lineup changes, the Lakers want to keep together a new-look second unit of Ronnie Price, Jeremy Lin, Nick Young, Ed Davis and Jordan Hill. That second unit led a furious fourth quarter comeback against the Brooklyn Nets, though it ultimately fell short.

On Sunday morning, after conducting an open shootaround session with season ticket holders in attendance, Scott spoke with NBCLA.com and explained his thought process for the new lineup.

"Just changing it up a little bit," Scott said. "I thought about changing Ryan [Kelly] as well, but I liked the way he played the last game. Jordan [Clarkson] and Wayne [Ellington], I haven't thought about [changing] that at all."

"[Ellington] had an off game the other night, but he's still been playing well for us, and Jordan [Clarkson] is still learning, and I still see him making big strides."

Scott said he was uncertain if he would extend to a 12-man rotation or if he would continue playing two five-man units. If the Lakers' coach goes with the latter option, Wesley Johnson and Black would be out of the rotation. Considering Black is a rookie under development with the season going nowhere, the change to sit a rookie, Black, and return a veteran, Boozer, seemed curious. 

"I saw what I wanted to see: tough player, plays hard, good rebounder, good defender," Scott said about Black. "Still got to work on that offensive game -- his post-up game, his little 15-footer. But those are things we can definitely work on in the summer. I saw what I wanted to see."

Scott said Black would get more opportunities this season, but the coach did not sound sure about whether Black would see the court on Sunday night.

"I want to see as many guys as possible, and I want to see as many combinations as possible, but the first order of business is to win the game," Scott delivered a reminder that the Lakers were playing the Celtics.

Playing the rival Celtics at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time, even members of "Team Tank," who want the Lakers to lose out and get the best possible draft pick, would probably celebrate a victory on Sunday night.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Caught in Brooklyn's Nets]]> Sat, 21 Feb 2015 07:31:36 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-2-20-15.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets met on Friday night at Staples Center in a match up involving two less than stellar squads. Despite the losing record, the Nets sat only one game out of the playoffs, and the extra incentive drove the Nets to a victory.

Friday's game started with Lakers forward Ryan Kelly asserting his presence on the floor and stamping his authority on the box score. The Lakers' starting small forward would notch 12 points in the first half, which was tied for game-high honors with Bojan Bogdanovic.

Although the Lakers shot 51 percent from the field and scored 57 points in the first half, they only held a one-point lead following the intermission. Defense, clearly, was not on display for the two losing teams.

Along with Kelly's fast start, rookie Jordan Clarkson continued to shows signs of improvement. The point guard recently worked with veteran point guard Steve Nash in a one-on-one session, and the 22-year-old put up eight points, four assists, three rebounds and no turnovers in the first half.

Lakers coach Byron Scott, who has admitted that a new change to his starting lineups was on the horizon, tried a new bench unit. Even with Jordan Hill healthy, the Lakers stayed with Tarik Black as a starter. As such, the Lakers tried a new second unit that featured Ronnie Price, Jeremy Lin, Nick Young, Ed Davis and Hill.

The Lakers' defense failed in the third quarter. The Lakers' defense finally hit a new level of dysfunction as the Nets tallied 40 points in the 12-minute third period, and suddenly the Lakers trailed by 19 points. In particular, Joe Johnson got hot from distance and made all four of his three-point attempts in the quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Nets' lead would grow to 22 points, but the new-look second unit would chip away and bring cut the Nets' lead to only seven points. Hill would finish with 12 points and 10 rebounds, Davis would add a double-double of his own with 16 points and 14 rebounds and Lin would pour in 18 points off the bench. Price set the table and tabbed eight assists. 

Eventually, though, the Lakers would lose 114-105.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Shootaround: Changes Coming]]> Fri, 20 Feb 2015 12:39:05 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lakers-shootaround-2-20.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers met for Friday morning shootaround ahead of a date with the Brooklyn Nets, and for a change, the team had a fully healthy roster available with the long-term exceptions of Julius Randle, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.

Lakers coach Byron Scott revealed that Jordan Hill would not return to being a starter, however, as rookie Tarik Black would continue to assume the role. When healthy, Hill had been the only Laker, excluding Bryant, to start every game.

Previously, Scott had promised changes coming to the lineup, and the Lakers' coach provided details into what that meant exactly.

When asked, Scott admitted he had been thinking about starting Nick Young for the final stretch of the season. However, Scott made it clear that he had not done more than think about the shift in lineups.

Also, Scott confirmed that Ronnie Price would return to the rotation for the final stretch. The Lakers' coach, however, stated that he would like to keep Jeremy Lin involved by having the two point guards play in tandem. The idea would be to use Lin off-ball with Price running the point.

On the subject of point guards, Scott also shared that he had been mulling over whether to move Clarkson from a starter to a reserve. Ultimately, the coach had been thinking about changes, but he confirmed that the time had not yet arrived to enact any of them.

"Again, I got a few more games before I really think about it," Scott said.

For Friday night's game, the Lakers will start Clarkson, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Kelly, Black and Robert Sacre.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers vs. Nets: Preview]]> Fri, 20 Feb 2015 09:39:58 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Nets-2-20-15.jpg

On Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers play a game for the first time in nine days.

Their opponents, the Brooklyn Nets, have lost nearly 60 percent of their games, so Brooklyn is not particularly good. The Lakers, however, have lost 75 percent of their contests, so they're altogether awful. Losing on multiple levels, the Nets have lost three games in a row entering Friday night. Obviously, the Lakers carry a six-game losing streak into Staples Center, so both these teams have grown accustomed to quiet post-game locker rooms.

On Thursday, the Lakers did not make any moves at the NBA's Trade Deadline. The Lakers failed to move any pieces and create any rejuvenation in a poisoned environment of losing. LA has lost 40 of the first 53 games in its 2014-15 season, and this is the same group that will end a season on track to be the worst in franchise history.

The Los Angeles Lakers could not trade away the reality of the failed 2014-15 NBA season, so they opted not to trade away anything.

In fairness to the team, the Lakers have positioned themselves to attract talent and build a contender in a hurry. Once the first domino falls, the remainder should follow. Consciously, the Lakers exercised patience and opted not to push the first domino.

So, the summer of 2015 should be exciting.

If the Lakers continue on their current trend of winning only 25 percent of their games, they will end the season with 20 wins. That should provide LA with a top five draft talent, and mended rookie Julius Randle should double LA's tradable asset bank. Add in a free agent or two over the upcoming summer, and the Lakers could build a contender over night.

Unfortunately, Friday night promises the harsh reality that the remaining 29 games offer more value in losing than winning. If Lakers' games did not already feel as though they belonged on a bizarre episode of the Twilight Zone, the final 20 games of the season could hit a new level of awkward.

Does supporting the Lakers mean celebrating losses?

The LA Lakers and Brooklyn Nets will ask the question at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time on Friday night. On Sunday, the Lakers will host the Boston Celtics in a rivalry game that will again force fans to question their hearts' desires. A win is a loss, and a loss is a win: the Lakers' current reality commences on Friday at Staples Center.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nick Young: Dolphins And Trade Deadline]]> Thu, 19 Feb 2015 15:59:08 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NickYoungdolphinstradedeadline_1200x675_401612867804.jpg After the LA Lakers passed the trade deadline, Nick Young talked about his All-Star break, talking to Dolphins and the surviving the NBA trade deadline.]]> <![CDATA[Lakers Practice: Trade Deadline Passes]]> Thu, 19 Feb 2015 15:59:58 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-nick-Young.jpg

All over the NBA, general managers hit the horns and made last minute deadline deals to shake up the NBA landscape. Keeping track of the trades as they came through at the deadline was nearly impossible. Keeping track of the LA Lakers' trades, however, did not pose a challenge.

The Lakers did not make a single move.

The only murmurs involving the Lakers near the deadline came 24 hours before the deadline when disgruntled Phoenix Suns point guard Goran Dragic said he wanted out of Arizona. Well, Dragic got out, but he went for Miami. Considering Dragic named Miami as one of his preferred destinations, the point guard will likely no longer be on the Lakers' radar come summer time.

"I have a lot of faith in Jimmy (Buss) and Mitch (Kupchak)," Lakers coach Byron Scott said on Thursday afternoon after the deadline had passed. "The game plan that they showed me months ago, I believe in that. And we knew it was going to take us some time, and we knew it was going to be a process."

"It gets me excited for the summer," Scott added.

The coach would not give away any details about the plan, but simply pointing to the summer made it clear that the Lakers had set high expectations for the coach. For fans who have labored through nearly two seasons of constant struggles and lengthy stretches of losing, expectations are high for the summer of 2015. With Scott's comments, those expectations should only increase.

Back to the Lakers' practice, the coach put his players to work in another training camp style practice meant to recondition his players following a lengthy break on the sidelines. Wayne Ellington, Jordan Hill and  Nick Young all completed Thursday's practice, so all three should be available on Friday night when the Lakers take on the Brooklyn Nets.

Speaking of Young, the Lakers' sixth man made his usual scene when the cameras came on.

"[I] got a chance to talk to the dolphins a little bit. Now, we've got a cool understanding," Young started talking about his break. "We stay away from each other, just give each other a head nod and keep it moving."

"It was like a gang [of dolphins], but I had to face my fears so I just jumped in," Young previously stated that a dolphin tried to drown him. "They kind of felt my presence. I was like Deebo to them, so they didn't really come around too much."

Young said he also went to New York for Fashion Week but not before he flew over a volcano in a helicopter with no doors on it and went zip-lining. "Even the volcano couldn't mess with me."

During Young's media session, Lakers forward Jordan Hill interrupted from the Lakers' weight room. Young promptly walked over and dragged Hill in front of the cameras. Immediately, Young turned interviewer and asked Hill about surviving the trade deadline with the Lakers.

"I'm still here. I'm still holding on by a thread," a bearded Hill answered Young's question.

To end the interview, Young ran off but not before he brought attention to Hill's beard and said, "They need to trade that."

Hill, Young and the Lakers will next play on Friday night at Staples Center.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Plan For the Future]]> Thu, 19 Feb 2015 14:58:42 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ByronScotttalksLakersplan_1200x675_401574467999.jpg LA Lakers coach Byron Scott talked about the front office's plan and his confidence in the plan following the NBA's trade deadline passing on Thursday Feb. 19, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Lakers Trade Talk: Dragic?]]> Thu, 19 Feb 2015 05:29:24 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Lakers-Goran-dragic-2-18.jpg

The NBA's trade deadline will pass Thursday at noon Pacific Time.

The Los Angeles Lakers will likely be wrapping up practice at their El Segundo facility as the final phone calls conclude, and with fewer than 24 hours remaining, the mecca of trade rumors continues to live up to the hype. Sadly, more often than not, trade rumors are just that: hype.

At the 2013 deadline, talk of Dwight Howard being shipped out led to nothing. In 2014, both Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill had already re-registered new addresses with the post office before the Lakers sent away Steve Blake for Kent Bazemore, who is no longer with the team.

In 2015, the top name on the list is disgruntled Phoenix Suns' point guard Goran Dragic. As reported by Marc Stein and Ramona Shelbourne of ESPN.com, Dragic has become insistent on leaving Arizona with his preferred destinations being New York, Miami and LA.

Adrian Wojarowski of Yahoo! Sports quickly explained that the team had no intentions of only focusing on the Slovenian point guard's desired landing spots. That being said, the comments coming out of Phoenix on Wednesday sounded as though Dragic is on his way out sooner rather than later.

Whether or not Phoenix has lost leverage with Dragic's public comments, the point guard is a free agent at season's end. The choice Phoenix must make is whether to trade the point guard and get something back or watch him walk away for nothing at the end of the season. Considering Phoenix is still in a playoff position, trading away Dragic will likely also mean trading away the postseason.

Back to the Lakers, who have no chance of the playoffs, Jordan Hill has been the name most attached to trade rumors. The forward has stated publicly that he prefers to stay with the Lakers, though. Whether or not Hill moves, the Lakers will likley need to include the forward in a package to get anything worthwhile.

According to Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times, the Lakers have become reluctant to trade away rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson. In the past, the Lakers have not been willing to include injured rookie Julius Randle in any trade packages either. Further, the Lakers' next best asset involves finishing with a top-five draft pick for the 2015 NBA Draft.

Everything considered, the Lakers would need to give up one or more of the aforementioned assets to get Dragic or any other player, really. One major issue with acquiring a player like Dragic would involve signing the player to a long-term contract and giving up financial flexibility that the Lakers have striven to achieve.

One major downside of trading for a player that would improve the Lakers would also be that LA could potentially play its way out of the bottom five and end up wasting away a chance at drafting an elite young talent. Approaching the trade deadline, the Lakers hold the fourth worst record in the NBA.

Regardless of the rumors, the clock continues to tick. When the Lakers begin their practice on Thursday morning, rumors will run rampant. By the time the Lakers end their practice, the deadline will have passed.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Played With Hurt Shoulder]]> Tue, 17 Feb 2015 16:10:15 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-no-Kobe-vs-Bulls-12-25.jpg

In an hour-long NBA TV interview special, Kobe Bryant revealed that he had played with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder for an extended period of time prior to opting for season-ending surgery.

"The funny thing about it is I've been playing with it, I guess, torn for a long time," Bryant laughed. "I just never actually got an MRI on it. Even now, the strength in my shoulder is good. It's fine. I can shoot, but I just keep tearing it more and more and more. I've had this pain for a long time. It's just I've never actually had it looked at because the strength was so good."

The nature of a torn rotator cuff injury is that the tear will not heal. However, over time, it will continue to deteriorate, and Bryant contended that he could have continued playing without surgery, but the shoulder would only get worse. Incredibly though, Bryant managed to keep playing basketball with an injured shoulder.

"I just did nine months!" Bryant's frustrations resulted in laughter with interviewer Ahmad Rashad. "I've got to do it again!"

Bryant had only recently missed all but six games of an 82-game season due to an Achilles Rupture suffered in April of 2013 and a fracture in his knee suffered in December of that same year. Similar to the torn Achilles and the knee fracture, Bryant chose to stay on the court with an injured shoulder longer than most anyone else would dare.

With the Achilles, Bryant went out and shot two free throws. With the fracture in his knee, Bryant played the fourth quarter and led his team to victory. With his shoulder injury, Bryant shot the ball left handed twice before Lakers coach Byron Scott pulled him. Not surprisingly, he made his first lefty shot. Also worth mentioning, Bryant and Scott both recall talking about his shoulder injury at least a month earlier.

"You control what you can control," Bryant told Rashad in a Zen-inspired state of calm. "I'm going to do what I always do--just break everything down to its smallest form, its smallest detail and go after it. Day by day. Just one day at a time."

Bryant admitted thinking about hanging up his basketball shoes, but those thoughts held their positions in part of the rehab process. When the Achilles ruptured, Bryant's experience with those thoughts hit its highest octaves. Since then, he understood and adhered to the process.

Bryant admitted that the Achilles injury changed him and drove him to focus on life after and outside of basketball.

"I need to really get on this and figure out what comes next because the end could be here a lot closer than you think," he recalled his thoughts.

With opportunities down every avenue and every street, why would Bryant undergo another painful process of injury rehabilitation rather than enter the professional world armed with connections, assets and name recognition? After all, a 36-year-old with his power in the business world and his natural love of cold calling famous figures translates to an 17-year-old basketball phenomenon jumping from high school to the professional ranks.

"Sense of purpose was there ever since I was a kid," Bryant explained. "I felt like I knew what god put me on this earth to do is to play the game of basketball. I just love it so much."

While enjoying the minor details of the game as he approaches the end of his basketball life, Bryant added, "When the end comes, I'm fine with that. I'm not afraid of change."

For Bryant, the end may be near enough to see, but it has not yet arrived. Bryant succeeding and accumulating greater wealth in his second career would be easy to envision, but the 19-year veteran made it clear that he still had season no. 20 left to play with the Lakers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Opens Up With NBA TV]]> Tue, 17 Feb 2015 09:35:23 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-NBA-TV.jpg

"It still pisses me off," Kobe Bryant said about the 2008 NBA Finals loss to the Boston Celtics in an hour-long special on NBA TV that aired Monday night. "That damn one eats at me. I wish I had that one."

Bryant would go on to win in 2009, and 2010 would provide the Lakers another shot at the Celtics in the NBA Finals. Bryant would get revenge, but apparently, the losses leave a stronger imprint.

"The Detroit one got away. The Celtics one got away," Bryant lamented. "I should have seven (rings)."

Bryant spent significant time with Ahmad Rashad in a one-on-one interview where the LA Lakers' star took a long view of his career and focused in on details to provide candid insight.

"I grew up in Los Angeles," Bryant said at one point. "They've seen me grow up from a 17-year-old kid to be a 36-year-old man."

Asked about his goals entering the NBA as a fresh-faced teenager, Bryant didn't hesitate: "It was really simple for me at the time which was, 'win as many championships as possible.' That was it."

Bryant would finish with five titles, but teammates, fans and even Bryant had to wonder how many more he could have won had he not clashed with center Shaquille O'Neal. Bryant and O'Neal would lead the Lakers to three titles and four NBA Finals before the situation became untenable.

"No," Bryant responded clearly when asked if O'Neal and Bryant were friends.

"I'm obsessive, and I believe we need to work night and day to figure out where we need to go. [O'Neal] wanted to do it a different way," Bryant explained why the partnership eventually failed. "I wasn't going to back down and neither was he."

For Bryant, his obsessive love for the game trumped almost everything else outside of it, and his desire to play with his foot constantly on the accelator derived from his duty to fans and the possibility to inspire the next generation.

"It doesn't matter if I'm sick. It doesn't matter if I have a sprained ankle," Bryant explained his mentality. "The kid that's sitting there might be the next me sitting up there watching, trying to get inspiration from that. I need to go out there and play."

"Basketball never felt like work to me," Bryant added.

With the 20th season of his Hall-of-Fame career looming, Bryant began to speak about his basketball mortality and acknowledge that the end was near.

"Even when you realize that you have to appreciate the time in the moment, it still goes by too fast," Bryant said. "At this age, you start having bigger perspective on things. The blinders come off a little bit. You get a chance to sit back and look beyond yourself."

Bryant spoke about the greats he played against entering the league in 1996, touched on the generation that came and went under his watch and now acknowledged an even younger generation of superstars emerging.

Asked if he saw himself in any of the young players, Bryant focused on former UCLA Bruin Russell Westbrook.

"Westbrook plays mean," Bryant said. "He plays mean like I did, with an aggression--that's the way I played."

For the 19-year veteran, the end may be near, but his desire to dominate on the basketball court had not softened. Looking at the greats that came before, Bryant took confidence from the players' abilities to impact the game despite having varying levels of athleticism. Ultimately, Bryant revealed that he would adjust his game but still insisted he could dominate.

"For me to look at where I am now and say 'I don't have the physical ability that I had back then' doesn't mean I can't be a dominant or a great player," Bryant explained. "There have been plenty of players in the league who haven't had that speed or that athleticism but have still been able to dominate. So, why can't I?"

The Lakers' star joked about playing with one arm if need be before sharing that he had come to peace with the end.

"When the end comes, I'm fine with that," Bryant said. "I'm not afraid of change."

"I think it's great. I think there's beauty in that," Bryant added, specifically referring to the process of decay and decline that is part of ending his career. "It's completely fine."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blazers Set Fire to Lakers]]> Wed, 11 Feb 2015 21:16:58 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Blazers-Wayne-Ellington.jpg

When the Los Angeles Lakers started Wednesday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers down 7-0, the magic eight-ball said "outlook not so good."

The Lakers eventually managed to score a basket in Portand, but the closest they would come would be trailing 10-9 less than five minutes into the game. The Lakers never led in the game.

Despite playing a clean game committing zero turnovers in the first quarter, the Lakers trailed by eight. By halftime, Nick Young appeared to have emerged from his shooting slump to the tune of seven points and 3-4 from inside the three-point line. In all, six Lakers had at least six points at the intermission with Wayne Ellingotn leading the way with nine points.

Still, the Lakers trailed by eight points entering the locker room.

Portland's early lead derived from the Blazers getting Wesley Mathews and Damian Lillard going early. Portland's starting back court had 22 points, four assists and five rebounds by the half.

In the third quarter, though, the Blazers would burn all Laker hopes of stealing Wednesday's game.  Mathews and Lillard would shift into an even higher gear and combine for 14 points and seven assists in the third quarter alone. LaMarcus Aldridge also added 10 points in the period to provide the Blazers with a 23-point lead entering the final 12 minutes.

As if losing big on the scoreboard did not hurt enough, Young went off the court in pain. After examination in the locker room, word arrived that the 29-year-old had suffered a peroneal tendon strain. He would not return.

For all intents and purposes, the game had already ended. Twelve minutes away from vacation and trailing big, the final quarter became academic. Blazers' All-Stars Lillard and Aldridge did not even play in the final period. Six minutes away from vacation, the Lakers still trailed by 20 points.

When the final buzzer sounded, the final score read 102-86. After 53 games, the Lakers had just lost their 40th game.

Notes: Clarkson finished as the Lakers' leading scorer with 17 points. Ellington finished with 16 points and a career-high eight rebounds. Robert Sacre had one of his better performances of the season and finished with 12 points. Wesley Johnson finished with 12 points. Ed Davis led the team with 11 rebounds to go along with his eight points in 24 minutes. The Lakers have lost six games in a row.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Last Game Before All-Star]]> Wed, 11 Feb 2015 15:51:28 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Jordan-Clarkson.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers have not won since Jan. 29, so 13 days later, a win against the Portland Trail Blazers on the second night of a back-to-back at Moda Center does not seem likely. 

Why watch the Lakers on Wednesday night?

Well, Wednesday's game against the Blazers will be the last time the Lakers play before going on holiday for the All-Star break. Nine days without watching the purple and gold lose could be viewed as a positive. Still, not having the Lakers play for nine days seems like an eternity.

The Lakers have been dreadfully poor this season with a forgettable record of 13-39. Forty losses in 53 games would not be a mark worth celebrating at the NBA's forced mid-season break, but fans should celebrate that the season that will likely end as the worst in franchise history is 63 percent over.

A win against the Blazers on Wednesday would not help the end cause of gaining the best possible draft pick, but an unlikely win would do wonders to help refresh the Lakers as they head into their break.

Entering Wednesday's game, the Lakers have dropped five games in a row, but the Blazers are not playing their best basketball either. Damian Lillard and company have lost four of their last seven games and are likely looking forward to the break as much as the Lakers are.

Could the Lakers actually win in Portland?

Well, the Lakers led with less a minute to play in Portland last time they went up to Oregon. Kobe Bryant didn't play in that game, and Jordan Hill led the Lakers with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Bryant is out for the season, and Hill is out due to a strained hip flexor. As such, the short-handed Lakers face longer odds that usual, but nothing is impossible in the NBA.

Wednesday's game is about the continued development of players like Jordan Clarkson, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Kelly and even Nick Young. Young has struggled to find his stroke against defenses focusing on him as a primary scorer. However, Lakers coach Byron Scott sounded pleased with Young's defensive effort against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

Kelly broke out against the Orlando Magic and scored 20 points, but 15 of those came in one quarter. The lanky forward has since struggled and only made two baskets in two games. As much as Young draws attention for his poor shooting, Kelly also needs to break his slump. Since the start of February, Kelly is shooting only 29 percent from the field.

Ellington, however, has taken hold of his unlikely opportunity. The 27-year-old started the season on a non-guaranteed contract but enters Portland as the Lakers' most senior starter. Over his past four games, the Ellington is averaging 14.8 points per game on 43 percent shooting. Having put up four straight games of double-figure scoring, the Lakers hope Ellington can continue contributing points at a steady pace.

Clarkson is clearly being groomed as a point guard for the future, and the 22-year-old has already shown signs of being a solid point guard. Making the 10th start of his young career, Clarkson is coming off setting a career-high in assists, seven, against the Nuggets and career-high in points, 20, against the Cavaliers.

With an eye to the future, Clarkson has been the subject of private sessions working with Steve Nash. Nash was ruled out for the season before it began, and after an extended hiatus, the 41-year-old two-time Most Valuable Player has committed to work with the Lakers' rookie.

When asked about his plans for the All-Star break on Tuesday night, Clarkson said he would spend significant time in the gym working on his game. Pressed further by NBCLA.com, the rookie said he planned to cut his vacation short to work with Nash.

The pair plan to break down film and work one-on-one. Previously, Nash and Clarkson sat down face-to-face and spoke, but the recent road trip and the furious schedule did not allow for time for the rookie to work with the future Hall-of-Fame point guard. While teammates head to tropical destinations to relax and recover, Clarkson will be in the gym working.

Wednesday night may turn into another ugly affair in Portland, but watching Clarkson's progress through the season is worth keeping an eye on. Playing in one of the toughest arenas in the NBA, the rookie should be tested. Add in Damian Lillard, and the rookie faces a mountain on Wednesday night.

However, the true measure of an NBA rookie is rising to the challenge. On Wednesday, the challenge to snap a five-game losing streak on the road on the second night of a back-to-back could not be greater.

The Lakers and Blazers will tip at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lawson Leaves Lakers Lost]]> Wed, 11 Feb 2015 01:11:25 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Nuggets-Nick-Young-2-10-15.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers lost on Tuesday night, which would be a surprise if they had not lost the previous four games and 14 of the past 15 games.

Just as the Lakers helped the Orlando Magic snap their 10-game losing streak two games earlier, the purple and gold assisted the Denver Nuggets in snapping a six-game losing streak on Tuesday night. As has often been the case this season, the Lakers left it until late before allowing the game to completely slip.

The Lakers started Tuesday's game with a 7-0 run. From there, the lead would grow to 10 points before leveling out to a five-point differential at the end of the first quarter. Wayne Ellington got off to a fast start with 11 points in the opening 12 minutes, and rookie Jordan Clarkson likewise added five points and four assists in the early going.

In the second quarter, the Lakers would again build out a lead and grow their advantage to 12 points. However, closing quarters continued to be a problem, and the Lakers allowed the Nuggets to trim the lead to only three points by the halftime buzzer.

To that point, Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson had been relatively quiet with only four points and six assists. In the second half, Lawson would take over. The 27-year-old point guard would tab 28 points and 10 assists in the second half to finish with a grand total of 32 points, which was a new season high, and 16 assists, which tied his previous season high.

For the Lakers, Carlos Boozer would finish as LA's top scorer and rebounder with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Even with Lawson slicing and dicing his way through the Lakers, the purple and gold managed to stay close. With 1:37 to play, Boozer's layup brought the Lakers within one point. Lawson would immediately answer with a long range jump shot, and Lakers coach Byron Scott lost his patience with his rookie point guard's defensive effort.

"It was the fact that [Clarkson] wasn't guarding [Lawson]," Scott explained why he pulled Clarkson at that late stage. "[Clarkson] was giving [Lawson] way too much space, way too much respect. And that's what I told [Clarkson] when I took him out."

With 1:11 on the clock and the Lakers trailing by three points, Jeremy Lin came in for the Lakers. After Lawson found Darrell Arthur for a bucket, Lin committed his fifth turnover of the night with a terrible pass that led directly to two points the other way.

"One pass that he tried to make, a cross court pass...I've told [Lin] before that pass--there's no way," Scott spoke about Lin's back breaking error late in the game. "I can intercept that pass. Can't throw it. Not in this league. Not with these guys."

"Just bad decisions," Scott summarized Lin's turnovers.

After Lin's late giveaway and the subsequent layup, the Lakers trailed by seven points with 46.5 seconds to play. They wouldn't score again, and a Lawson three-pointer would further distance the Nuggets from the Lakers to end the contest with a final score of 106-96.

Next, the Lakers play on Wednesday night in Portland.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lin Answers For Turnovers]]> Wed, 11 Feb 2015 00:48:17 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/JeremyLintalksTurnovers_1200x675_397165123866.jpg Lakers guard Jeremy Lin explained his tendency to commit turnovers, and Lakers coach Byron Scott did not sugar coat his opinion on the matter. Feb. 10, 2015]]> <![CDATA[Clarkson To Work With Nash Over Break]]> Wed, 11 Feb 2015 00:46:45 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/JordanClarksonWorkingwithSteveNash_1200x675_397167171611.jpg LA Lakers rookie Jordan Clarkson tells NBCLA.com's Shahan Ahmed that he plans to return early from his All-Star break in order to work with legendary point guard Steve Nash. Filmed Feb. 10, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Dolphin Tried to Kill Nick Young]]> Tue, 10 Feb 2015 13:31:42 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Nick-Young-scared-of-dolphins.jpg

A season ago, Nick Young's house was robbed, and the LA Lakers star took the understandable step of moving to a hotel temporarily and finding a new place to stay for the long term.

For a famous and public personality, fears of being robbed or stalked by the paparazzi are rational. Fear of dolphins? That's an unusual one.

Well, Young is an unusual character, and apparently, "Swaggy P" is afraid of dolphins. Young's girlfriend, Iggy Azalea, revealed her significant other's somewhat silly fear via Twitter.

According to the girlfriend, if the basketball star had it his way, a particular Mexican dolphin would be on trial for attempted murder.

While the pair of tweets could be interpreted as a girlfriend chiding and teasing her boyfriend in front of millions of people as only celebritites can, CNN's Rachel Nichols confirmed the odd fear with Young on Tuesday.

And there you have it. An arena full of 20,000 fans jeering his every move may not affect him, and millions of eyeballs watching his every mistake may not jar him, but put him in the water near one dolphin, and "Swaggy P" will probably lose his mind.

NBCLA.com would like to thank the homicidal Mexican dolphin for making this story possible.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Practice Report: Monday Feb. 9]]> Mon, 09 Feb 2015 21:52:01 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-practice-2-9-15.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers returned from a four-game road trip with four more losses. Undeterred by a late night arrival on Sunday, the Lakers met for practice late Monday morning.

"Tough road trip," Lakers coach Byron Scott started out his session with the media. "Our guys continued to compete, but I really thought we could win two out of those four games."

"When you're losing like that, it takes its toll," Scott said referring to two overtime losses. "For us, the next two games, [then] the [All-Star] break could not come at a better time."

The Lakers will next play the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on Tuesday before traveling to Oregon to play against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. After that, the team gets a full week off for the All-Star break.

Scott did not sound ecstatic about the extended break.

"Don't forget your conditioning," Scott warned. "I don't want you to come back on the first practice [after All-Star break] and be completely out of shape. Have some fun and relax and get basketball off your mind, but get some work done, too."

"Our first day of practice will be a lot like our first day of training camp," Scott added before rolling his eyes and joking that players could even go to Europe given the extended break.

With regards to the injury report, Scott confirmed that Jordan Hill would continue to sit. Hill had come by the facility but had been unable to practice on Monday due to a strained hip flexor. With two more games out, Hill expects to miss five games in total due to the issue. Scott said Hill would return following the break.

"My motto is always the same...if [Hill] couldn't practice today, then these next 2 games are out," Scott said about Hill as he cited his previous actions with sitting Nick Young.

When asked about Young, who has been struggling with his shot of late, Scott did not mince words.

"He is struggling," Scott repeated a couple times before being asked if Young had the mental fortitude to recover and get his season on track. "We'll find out how tough he is."

Scott said that he would prefer to see Young attack the basket more often and stop settling for three-point jump shots. The coach said, "I just never liked my first shot being a three."

NBCLA.com asked the Lakers' coach if he believed Young's troubles on the court derived from a lack of confidence or losing control of his emotions. Scott responded,  "From where I'm standing, it just seems he has lost a bit of his confidence right now."

The coach said that he would continue to evaluate his young players for the next eight to 13 games before making any changes to the starting lineup, but he would attempt to install more wrinkles in the defense and offense to see how players handled extra complications to the coach's systems.

For the remainder of the season, the coach said he would continue with the current approach of allowing young talent to develop. That approach should result in more losses, as the Lakers have dropped 13 of their last 14 games. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Worst Lakers Team Ever? So Far, Yes]]> Mon, 09 Feb 2015 03:59:39 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Lakers-bad-Kobe-Bryant-Howard.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers are the worst they've ever been.

In truth, the Lakers--Minneapolis or LA--have never been this bad. In 1957-58, the Minneapolis Lakers won 19 games in a 72-game season, which amounted to a winning percentage of 26.4 percent. With 27 wins in the 2013-14 season, Mike D'Antoni's Lakers won 32.9 percent of their games to claim the qualified title of worst team in Lakers' history since the team moved to LA.

While D'Antoni's Lakers looked like a hopeless mess, Byron Scott's 2014-15 Lakers have been worse. With only 13 wins in 51 games, LA is currently winning only 25.5 percent of its games.

Considering the 2014-15 Lakers have lost 13 of their last 14 games, this team appears intent on claiming the unqualified dubious title of worst Lakers' team ever. The Lakers are awful, and this team winning more than 20 games this season would be an achievement at this point.

Why Are The Lakers So Awful?

Pointing to Kobe Bryant's injury or overuse may be the easiest way to explain the drop in play, but his inability to shoulder the load for the past couple seasons does not alone explain how poor the team has been. Steve Nash's bad contract and waste of a roster spot have particularly hurt the team in the past two seasons, too.

While the team may not publicly admit that Bryant's contract was a mistake, the truth of the matter is that both Bryant and Nash have handicapped the team with bad contracts and minimal playing time due to injuries.

Add in the freaky level of injuries in the 2013-14 season and the broken leg of promising rookie Julius Randle on opening night of the 2014-15 season, and the Lakers can easily point to injuries to help explain why the LA Lakers look like the Washington Generals these days.

Injuries, however, fail to fully capture the true breath of the Lakers' free fall. The failed Chris Paul trade deserves the shortest mention, as the Lakers cannot take blame for the league stepping in and canceling a trade that should have been executed. That happened.

Possibly even more important than the failed trade, the Lakers allowed Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol to walk away without getting anything in return in each of the past two off-seasons. For a team short on assets, the Lakers allowing two of the NBA's best big men to walk for free unlocked the perfect combination of pathetic play.

Trading Howard would have been harder to imagine than trading Gasol, but the thought did come up during a difficult season where Bryant and Howard butted heads. Management should have been in tune with Howard's growing frustrations over the Lakers' offensive system under D'Antoni and understandable favoritism toward Bryant.

Gasol's name became synonymous with trade rumors in his final seasons with the Lakers, and that the Lakers allowed the Spaniard to leave without receiving even a single draft pick is difficult to justify.

With both Howard and Gasol leaving the Lakers asset-less and stuck with a couple of bad contracts, the Lakers' front office latched onto keeping financial flexibility. Financial flexibility became the Lakers' primary asset. Rather than finding and signing players that could help the team for the next two to four seasons, the Lakers brought in players on one-year contracts or claimed players on expiring contracts via trade or waivers: Jeremy Lin; Carlos Boozer and Tarik Black.

When asking why the Lakers are awful, the blame falls primarily on the Lakers' front office. The Lakers' front office made the trade for Nash, gave Bryant his contract, allowed Howard to leave and let Gasol go for free.

What's Next?

The Lakers have hit the bottom.

Nash's contract will expire at season's end, so the Lakers will have even more spending power. Whether they exercise that power to sign middle grade non-superstar players to multiyear deals remains to be seen. The more the Lakers spend on proven talent, the better the Lakers will be in 2015-16.

With Randle expected back fully fit to start the 2015-16 season and LA expected to land a top-five draft pick in 2015, the Lakers should begin to rise once again. With Bryant suffering season ending injuries three seasons in a row, Bryant's swan song could be a farewell tour or his final season could end early due to injury. Either outcome appears equally likely at this junction.

Regardless, the team and the fans have already experienced a couple years without Bryant, and every outing for the soon-to-be 37-year-old is appreciated rather than expected.

The 2015-16 Lakers will be built around youth, not Bryant.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Coach Talks Dean Smith, Rebuilding]]> Sun, 08 Feb 2015 13:02:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ByronScottLakersCavspregame_1200x675_395959363684.jpg Before the LA Lakers and Cleveland Cavs tipped off, LA coach Byron Scott talked about rebuilding and the passing of Dean Smith.]]> <![CDATA[Lakers at Cavs: Preview]]> Sun, 08 Feb 2015 11:28:11 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Cavs-Kobe-LeBron-1-15-15.jpg

On Jan. 15, 2015, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James put on a show for a national audience.

Bryant would finish with 19 points, 17 assists and six rebounds in a memorable contest that included the grizzled veteran calling James old and James wearing the adjective with a smile. Back then, the Cleveland Cavaliers had a losing record and had lost six games in a row. The Los Angeles Lakers did not exactly appear destined for greatness, but neither did the Cavs.

Behind 36 points, four rebounds and five assists from James, the Cavaliers won the Jan. 15 contest at Staples Center. James and company went on to win 11 straight games and suddenly appeared within three games of the no. 2 spot in the East.

The Lakers did not fare nearly as well as the Cavs following that mid-January meeting. In his next appearance, Bryant injured his right shoulder and required surgery, ending his season immediately. Already two games into a losing streak entering their last meeting, the Lakers would go on to lose 10 of their next 11 games.

That's where the Lakers stand entering Sunday's matinee at the Quicken Loans Arena, but to say the Lakers are standing with 13 wins in 50 games is being generous. The Lakers have fallen flat on their faces.

Three games into their road trip, the Lakers have three losses, and the conversation surrounding the team is already focused on just how low they can go. Currently holding the fourth worst record in the NBA, a convincing defeat to the New York Knicks showed promise that LA could drop further. As it stands, the Knicks maintain the worst record in the league.

After losing in New York, the Lakers cradled a 14-point lead against the Milwaukee Bucks. Predictably, LA relented and lost in overtime. In a case of deja vu, the Lakers required overtime to lose to the Orlando Magic, too. Entering that game, the Magic had lost 10 straight and fired their coach only one day earlier. These Lakers know more about pulling out a loss than a win.

With their recent run, the Cavs appear headed for the top or near it, while the Lakers seem destined to finish at or near the absolute bottom. While Bryant would surprise fans by showing his face at Staples Center until the 2015-16 season, James appears poised to lead the Cavs into the postseason.

The Lakers and the Cavaliers have little in common entering Sunday's game, and one finds it nearly impossible to believe that these teams both had losing records and played a highly competitive game only 24 days earlier.

Unfortunately for fans watching on Sunday, the Cavs have greatly improved and the Lakers have gotten markedly worse. Sunday could turn ugly, but LA has a habit of playing up to their competition. They may not win, but the Lakers will likely make the game interesting.

The Lakers and Cavs tip-off at 12:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Magic Beat Lakers in Overtime]]> Sat, 07 Feb 2015 07:20:20 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Magic-Ryan-Kelly.jpg

Despite leading by as many as 14 points, the Los Angeles Lakers lost 103-97 to the Orlando Magic in overtime on a fluky Friday night in Florida.

With the Magic having lost 10 games in a row, Friday night fit into the mold of loss no. 11 of the losing streak. The Lakers relied on their point guards to carry the scoring burden early.

In the first half, Jordan Clarkson and Jeremy Lin combined for 23 points to help the Lakers to a 14-point halftime lead. However, Orlando came out of the locker room fighting in the third quarter. The Magic scored 31 points in the third period, and the Lakers may well have given up their entire 14-point lead had forward Ryan Kelly not suddenly found his place in the Lakers' offense.

Kelly heated up from deep and scored 15 points in the third quarter. Kelly had only managed 11 points in his past five games combined. Thanks to Kelly's key contribution, the Lakers maintained a nine-point edge entering the fourth quarter.

But the Magic's intentions had become clear. Less than four minutes into the fourth quarter, the Magic took the lead. Stil, the Lakers did not break at the first sign of durress, and the final seven minutes of regulation featured neither team leading by more than two points.

With the score tied at 91-91, the Lakers managed to completely throw away two possessions in the final 30 seconds and force the game to overtime. First, Clarkson ran down the clock and attempted a long 27-foot three-pointer that missed the mark, to put it mildly. Then, Wesley Johnson miraculously came up with the rebound and gave the ball up to Wayne Ellington.

Rather than run a play or attack the basket, the Lakers opted to launch another three pointer. Ellington's shot initially appeared to be blocked. However, he got another look at the basket, and his second off-balance attempt did not inspire hope.

The Lakers and Magic entered overtime. For the Lakers, Friday night would be the third time in the past four games that extra periods were required to decide the affair. Counting the double overtime period against Chicago, the Lakers had played four overtimes in the past four games.

In Friday's overtime, LA continued to flutter, as Magic forward Tobias Harris only grew stronger. Harris scored four points in the overtime to bring his grand total to 34 points for the night. Victor Oladipo also stepped forward to add four points of his own in the extra period, as the second-year guard finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

The Magic outscored the Lakers 12-6 in overtime.

Although Nikola Vucevic did not score in the final five minutes, the Magic's center finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds and played a vital role in breaking Orlando's 10-game losing streak.

The Lakers lost their third game in a row and remain win-less on their Grammy's road trip. Next, the Lakers will wrap up their trip in Cleveland against LeBron James and the Cavaliers on Sunday.

Notes: Nick Young struggled and failed to score. He finished 0-6 on the night. Lin finished with 14 points on 6-8 shooting. Carlos Boozer continued to be productive off the bench with 14 points. Kelly finished with a team-high 20 points.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Search for Magic in Orlando]]> Fri, 06 Feb 2015 08:07:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Lakers-Magic-preview-1.jpg

Over halfway through an 82-game season, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic have combined for only 28 wins. Entering Friday's contest, Orlando has lost 10 straight games. Somehow, the Lakers still hold a worse record than the Magic.

Even against a team that has lost 10 games in a row and just fired its coach on Thursday, Pinnacle Sports listed the Lakers as three-point underdogs. LA, fourth, ranks ahead of Orlando, fifth, in the race to the bottom.

Two games into their four game road trip, the Lakers have two losses.

First, LA spent the morning of Super Bowl Sunday in the "World's Most Famous Arena" embarrassing themselves in a blowout defeat to the New York Knicks, whom currently hold the second worst record in the NBA.

Watching two of the absolute worst teams playing in one of the least dramatic games of the season before turning over to see, arguably, the most dramatic and perfectly matched game in the history of sports somehow accentuated how great Sunday's Super Bowl truly was.

Second, the Lakers got through 47 minutes and 24 seconds against the Milwaukee Bucks with a six-point lead. In the final 36 seconds of regulation, the Bucks hit two three-pointers, and the two teams played a five-minute overtime period. Unlike a similar breakdown against the Chicago Bulls at the end of regulation only two games earlier, the Lakers could not retake hold of the contest in the extra period. Hence, the Lakers have lost two games in a row.

Next, the Lakers take their road trip to Orlando, and no one truly knows what to expect from a team that has not only lost on the court, but it has also lost on the sidelines. Against the Lakers, Magic assistant coach James Borrego will debut as interim coach for the hosts.

The Lakers and Magic met in Los Angeles nearly four weeks ago, and LA won 104-84 with Lakers rookie Tarik Black finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds in only 17 minutes. On Friday, Black expects to make his second consecutive start, as the Lakers have ruled out starting center Jordan Hill with a hip flexor strain. Hill is traveling with the team, but he does not expect to play for the duration of the road trip.

Considering the next stop will be Cleveland and LeBron James, the Lakers' best chance at getting a victory on their four-game roadie is definitely in Orlando.

The Lakers and Magic will tip 4 p.m. Pacific Time.

Notes: Ronnie Price is listed as probable due to a sore right elbow. Lakers forward Ed Davis revealed he plans to exercise his player option at the end of the season, meaning he will become a free agent after the season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe and Jimmy Go on a Beer Run]]> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 10:43:58 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-on-Jimmy-Fallon.png

Back in 1996, Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Fallon had a great deal in common: neither had hit the big time but both had unimaginably bright futures ahead of them.

Apparently, the basketball player and the comedian met at a party and hung out for a bit. When the tap ran dry, the new kid basketball player and the fresh-faced joker ended up as the designated duo to go replenish the supply of booze at the party.

So, back in 1996, Fallon and Bryant went on a beer run together. On the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Bryant came on as a guest and the two told the hilarious story that was nearly two decades old. At the time, Bryant would have been an afro-wearing 18-year-old kid, so Fallon likely needed to come along to purchase the beer, anyhow.

As the story goes, Bryant and Fallon happened upon Pink Dot, a delivery-only store in LA. Back in the days before navigation systems and smart phones, the two pleaded with the store worker to sell them beer. The worker resisted, as the business was set up to be a delivery-only joint.

As Fallon tells the story, Bryant took out his identification card and put it up to the window, saying a phrase that amounted to claiming royal blood: "I'm a Laker."

The worker quickly let the pair in, and Fallon and Bryant returned to the party with five cases of beer in hand. Nearly two decades later, Fallon and Bryant reunited for the first time since the chance meeting and unlikely beer run.

Watch Bryant and Fallon tell the hilarious story here:

Photo Credit: NBC Universal]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Fall to Bucks in OT]]> Wed, 04 Feb 2015 20:38:06 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Carlos-Boozer-LA-Lakers.jpg

Despite leading by six points with less than a minute to play in regulation, the Los Angeles Lakers lost 113-105 to the Milwaukee Bucks after an overtime period. 

To start the game, Lakers guard Wayne Ellington found his stroke from long range early and scored nine points on three triples in the first quarter. However, the Lakers did find any separation until Carlos Boozer and Nick Young entered the contest. After a stretch on the sidelines, Young came through with 12 points in the first half and 16 points for the game.

Boozer would be the Lakers' top scorer on the night, as the big man scored 12 points in the second quarter alone.

The Lakers led by as many as 14 points in the first half. However, a late Milwaukee run trimmed that lead to only eight points entering the halftime break. After a poor finish to the second quarter, Boozer's late bucket helped LA regain its footing entering the locker room.

In the first 24 minutes, the Lakers had managed to hold Giannis Antetokounmpo to 10 points and three rebounds. In the third quarter, the "Greek freak" would score 10 points and grab three rebounds to double his totals for the game. Antetokounmpo helped the Bucks on a 17-2 run to end the third quarter.

Suddenly, the Lakers found themselves down 74-68 after the Bucks outscored their opposition 28-14 in the third quarter. LA committed five turnovers in the quarter and went ice cold at the wrong time. The Lakers shot only 26 percent for the quarter.

To start the fourth period, the Lakers' bench again battled back. The purple and gold quickly clawed to within one point. Boozer led the rally and had the visitors down 78-77 on his 16th point of the night. Soon after, LA regained the lead and stormed past the Bucks. Boozer, Ellington and Young would combined to finish with 54 points after four quarters.

However, a trio of Bucks' three-pointers would erase a 6-point Lakers' lead with 1:02 to play. When former USC Trojan O.J. Mayo hit the last of those three-pointers with 0.5 seconds to play, the Bucks and Lakers were level at 94-94.

In the overtime period, Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Knight would score the first five points and give the home team an early five-point lead in the extra five-minute period. Ellington and Boozer would help the Lakers cut the deficit to only one point, but Knight would respond by hitting a difficult three-pointer despite a solid defensive possession from the Lakers.

With only 57.3 second to play in the overtime period, the Bucks took a four-point lead.

From there, a series of missed shots and an offensive foul would send Khris Middleton to the foul line, where the 23-year-old shooting guard would hit both free throws. Middleton would finish with 21 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and three steals.

Knight would add another couple points at the foul line to finish with 24 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Antetokoumpo finished with a team-high 25 points to go along with his six rebounds.

On the night, Boozer finished with a game-high 28 points, which was also a new season high for the veteran. Lakers forward Ed Davis pulled down 20 rebounds, which was his new career high.

Still, the Lakers came up short and lost 113-105. The Bucks won their fourth in a row on the season and their fourth in a row against the Lakers. On the season, the Lakers fell to 13-36. 

Next, LA travels to Florida to face the Orlando Magic on Friday.

Notes: Jordan Hill rejoined the team, but the Lakers' starting center/forward did not play against the Bucks. Hill is not expected to play in Orlando. Davis helped the Lakers out-rebound the Bucks 53-35.  LA edged the Bucks 18-5 on the offensive glass. The Lakers lost the turnover battle 18-12, and Milwaukee scored 31 points off turnovers. The Lakers only scored 14 points off Milwaukee errors.

<![CDATA[Byron Scott Offers Choice Description of Jason Kidd]]> Wed, 04 Feb 2015 15:07:23 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jason-Kidd-A-hole-Byron-Scott.jpg

Current LA Lakers coach Byron Scott previously coached current Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd to two NBA Finals appearances with the New Jersey Nets.

Kidd and Scott have never faced one another on the sidelines, but that will change on a frosty Wednesday night in Wisconsin. The only thing colder than the weather in Milwaukee may be the relationship between the former player and the former coach.

"He's kind of known for being an a-hole," Scott said at Wednesday morning's shootaround, according to Mark Medina of the LA Daily News.

"I never got that story," Scott said about unconfirmed reports that Kidd went to management and asking them to remove the coach. "I always said though, 'Where there's smoke, there's fire.'"

Scott, however, sounded as if he had moved forward: "I'm in a much better place, and I'm sure he's happy where he is."

Even if the weather permitted, Scott did not sound interested in playing gold with Kidd any time soon. He did not believe the relationship required repair and chose to describe his interactions with Kidd as "cordial."

"The bottom line is we had a lot of success together, as well," Scott attempted to put a slightly positive spin on the conversation, but that hardly balanced his earlier comments.

When asked about Kidd purposely spilling a drink to stop play after running out of timeouts against the Lakers a season earlier, Scott said he was surprised Kidd only received a $50,000 fine. Kidd became the butt of a great deal of jokes, and the spill did not even ultimately result in a win. Still, the fine seemed light considering the unethical tactic.

With the Bucks, however, Kidd appears to have a young core that could turn into contenders for an elongated period of time. Holding a winning record and in line to make the playoffs, the Bucks have quickly turned around a team that finished bottom in the NBA a season ago.

Kidd maneuvered a move to Milwaukee in controversial fashion, but since arriving in Wisconsin, the Bucks have looked a noticeably better team. Currently, the Bucks are on pace to win nearly three times as many games as a season ago.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets, where Kidd previously coached, have declined and currently find themselves out of the playoff picture. Even if he is an "A-hole," Kidd's work on the sidelines makes up for not necessarily being liked by his former coach.

"I respect him as a basketball player and now as a coach," Scott said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers in Milwaukee Wednesday]]> Wed, 04 Feb 2015 05:57:50 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Buck-Nick-Young.jpg

Nick Young will play against the Milwaukee Bucks, Lakers coach Byron Scott revealed following Tuesday's practice in Wisconsin.

Young dressed for the Los Angeles Lakers' lackluster loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday and said he was disappointed not to enter the game. Following a conversation between the player and coach and a tough training session in Wisconsin, Scott felt comfortable saying that Young would play against the Bucks.

Despite being shorthanded, the Lakers will continue to bring Young off the bench in an attempt to take advantage of a strong second wave that also includes Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer.

Jordan Hill, who had not yet missed a single game this season, suffered a grade 1 hip flexor strain. After flying home to LA and being examined by doctors, Hill expects to re-join the team and receive treatment from the training staff on Wednesday. Scott confirmed that Hill would definitely miss Wednesday's game in Milwaukee and Friday's game in Orlando. However, the big man could be back as early as Sunday in Cleveland. Officially, the team lists Hill as doubtful to play in any games on the current road trip.

While Hill sits, the Lakers will start rookie Tarik Black in a lineup that features fresh unfamiliar faces. Black joins fellow rookie Jordan Clarkson, second-year Ryan Kelly and third-year Robert Sacre in a Lakers' starting lineup few could have envisioned on opening night of the season. The elder statesman of the starting unit is 27-year-old Wayne Ellington, who is in his sixth season.

In all, the average age of the Lakers' starters is 24.0 years.

Not far away in terms of age, the Bucks' starting lineup on Monday night against the Toronto Raptors averaged 24.4 years. The Bucks beat the highly rated Raptors for their fourth straight victory. The win kept Milwaukee firmly rooted to the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference with a winning record of 26-22.

Bucks guard Brandon Knight sat out the victory over Toronto with a sore right quadricep, and the 23-year-old point guard's status entering Wednesday was questionable. Knight averages 17.7 points and 5.3 assists per game, and he has been a vital part of the young Bucks' success.

Shorthanded and on game two of a four-game road trip, the Lakers face the Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jordan Hill Injury Update: Going Home]]> Mon, 02 Feb 2015 14:48:58 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Rockets-1-25-15.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers announced that forward/center Jordan Hill will leave the team and return to Los Angeles on Tuesday morning after suffering a strained rectus femorus (quadricip) in his right leg. Hill will be examined by doctors on his arrival.

According to Lakers coach Byron Scott after Sunday's game, Hill was unsure of exactly how he strained his quad, but the player left Sunday's game and did not return. After waiting 24 hours, the team announced that Hill had shown little to no improvement, and a decision had been made to send Hill back to Los Angeles for further tests.

The Lakers leave New York City for Milwaukee on Tuesday morning, where they will face the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday evening.

After Hill left Sunday's game in the first half, rookie Tarik Black earned valuable playing time. Black had been unable to crack the Lakers' rotation since suffering an ankle sprain, but Hill's injury allowed the 23-year-old to start the second half of Sunday's loss to the New York Knicks.

If Scott inserts Black into the starting lineup, the Lakers expect to start Jordan Clarkson, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Kelly, Robert Sacre and Black. The average age of the Lakers' starters would be 24, and Ellington would be the senior starter at 27 years. The Lakers would be starting two rookies, one second-year and one third-year. Ellington is in his sixth season as a professional.

The Lakers'  four youngest healthy players banded together on Monday morning and braved a snow storm in New York City to pay respects to the 9/11 memorial.

The four youngsters also spent Sunday on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and appeared on After the Bell, which is a finance based show for Fox Business. If Hill is out for a prolonged period of time, the four youngest Lakers may be spending more time together on a different type of floor.

For now, one would imagine Hill will miss the remainder of the Lakers' road trip, which still features stops in Milwaukee, Orlando and Cleveland.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nick Young: Not Happy]]> Mon, 02 Feb 2015 00:40:26 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NickYoungUpsetBenchedLakersKnicks_1200x675_392126019693.jpg After Sunday's loss to the New York Knicks, Nick Young sounded upset about sitting for the entire game. Recorded on Feb. 1, 2015 at Madison Square Garden]]> <![CDATA[Lakers Look Awful in Loss to Knicks]]> Sun, 01 Feb 2015 13:24:05 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-lose-to-Knicks-Carmelo-Anthony.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers did well on Sunday.

No, the Lakers did not play well. In fact, they played about as poorly as they have in this dark season of losing. The Lakers lost big and claimed their 35th loss of the season. In the first half, the Lakers made only 11 baskets, and none of their starters had a single assist.

Incredible as it may be to imagine, no one on the Lakers' starting unit made a single pass that resulted in a made basket in the first half. Yeah, that is bad basketball.

Eventually, Jordan Clarkson would earn an assist in the third quarter, but that was all. The Lakers' starters managed one assist for the game.

Yet the Lakers did well on Sunday.

Playing against the New York Knicks, the Lakers accomplished something special that afternoon. They made the Knicks look good. Only three teams in the NBA had more fewer victories than the Lakers entering the Sunday's contest at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks were one of those teams, and at one point, New York led LA by 20 points.

Why is losing to the Knicks a good thing?

Well, the Lakers have no realistic chance at making the playoffs. They have a better chance of ending up with the worst record in the NBA and guaranteeing a top five NBA draft pick. If the Lakers end up with a top five draft pick, they get to keep it. If they somehow end up with the sixth pick or "worse," the Lakers' pick goes to the Phoenix Suns in accordance with the Steve Nash trade.

And so, the Lakers losing to the Knicks can actually be categorized as a victory in the long run. First of all, the Lakers provided New York it's 10th victory, so LA only has 3 more wins than the Knicks on the season. And the Lakers notched another loss, meaning the Lakers inched closer to the bottom.

Fans may not like the idea of rooting for losses, but when embarrassing defeats are coming fast and hard, focusing on the big picture avoids the depressing reality that the Lakers are 20 points worse than the worst team in the Eastern Conference.

Quickly moving past that reality, one should remember that Sunday's loss will look like a victory when the season ends.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Steve Nash Back Assisting]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 05:26:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jordan-Clarkson-Lakers-rookie.jpg

Apparently, Steve Nash has finally come to terms with the end of his career and returned to the Los Angeles Lakers in a mentoring capacity. In particular, Nash is helping 22-year-old Jordan Clarkson understand the mental game of the NBA.

Nash is one of the greatest point guards in the history of the NBA, but he will not go down as a beloved figure among fans of the purple and gold. Fans questioned Nash's disappearing act from the team after the Lakers announced Nash would not be playing during the 2014-15 season. Fans felt irate that the veteran point guard continued to receive a salary while not being with the team in any known capacity.

"I know it didn't go over perfect," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said when asked about Nash on Thursday. "With our blessing, we said 'take the time you need to get away from the game,' but I've been engaged with Steve [Nash]."

"He's around," Kupchak continued. "We have breakfast once a month. He will work with some of our players. He may have already started doing that. He's not going to go out and advertise that he's doing it. We've talked about helping the younger players. As the season progresses, I think he'll be more engaged."

Without much fanfare, Nash returned to the team in a mentoring capacity, and the greatest Canadian basketball player of all time is helping Clarkson, the Lakers' rookie point guard, adjust to life as a starting point guard in the NBA.

In his first career start, Clarkson lined up against former NBA Finals M.V.P. Tony Parker. Next, he faced one of the best defensive point guards in the NBA in Patrick Beverly. In his third and fourth careers starts, Clarkson matched up against All-Star John Wall and former NBA M.V.P Derrick Rose.

In three of those four games, Clarkson stepped up to the challenge, and he has thus far outperformed expectations.

Playing 43 minutes in a double overtime win over Rose and the Chicago Bulls, the Lakers' rookie tied his career high in points (18), rebounds (4) and assists (4). Only making his fourth career start, Clarkson spoke about watching film and improving following Thursday win.

At his locker, Clarkson told NBCLA.com that Nash had recently spoken with him in an attempt to help the young point guard.

"I was actually with Steve [Nash] yesterday," Clarkson said after Thursday's victory over the Bulls. "That was, I think, the first time meeting face-to-face and talking about stuff, so it was good."

Clarkson said that Nash's input helped, and the 22-year-old confirmed that the 40-year-old was helping via conversation and also working on the court.

In the Lakers' time of need, Nash turned up. Nine games into a losing streak and on the same day news that Kobe Bryant would be out for nine months broke, Nash sat down with the Lakers' rookie. The Canadian's presence was, no doubt, a welcome sight for the Lakers' organization.

When asked about which guys he has been studying on film, Clarkson said he had been watching Chris Paul because the LA Clippers' point guard is one of the best in the business at changing and controlling his pace. Clarkson also said he had been studying old game footage of Nash, as the Canadian mastered changing speeds during his nearly two-decade long career.

Clarkson, however, has a couple inches on Nash and about five inches on Paul. In terms of speed, Clarkson's pace and natural athletic ability likely trumps either point guard. After making a tough jump shot in the second overtime period, Clarkson struck a gunslinger pose that was reminiscent of a point guard that Clarkson naturally matches on multiple levels: Russell Westbrook.

"I watch Russell a lot," Clarkson told NBCLA.com. "I watch him a lot. I take some stuff from his game, the way he's aggressive at all times."

Similar to Westbrook, Clarkson is naturally more of a scorer than a passer, and a foot race between the two point guards would be fun to watch. The Lakers' rookie is not nearly as aggressive as the Oklahoma City Thunder guard, but his confidence is growing with every start.

Although the comparisons are admittedly premature, Clarkson has the opportunity to gain confidence with extended time on the court. With Nash helping develop the rookie's NBA identity and Clarkson's natural explosiveness mixing with a conscious effort to play with more aggression, the 22-year-old should only continue to draw comparisons to the former UCLA Bruin. And, that's a positive comparison.

For those wondering, the Lakers and the Thunder meet at Staples Center on Mar. 1 and in Oklahoma City on Mar. 24. Those meetings should only further help to develop the rookie, who provides a glimmer of bright light in a season filled with darkness.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jordan Clarkson: Postgame]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 05:51:04 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/JordanClarksonLakersBulls12915_1200x675_391313475525.jpg The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Chicago Bulls in double overtime, and rookie Jordan Clarkson played a starring role with 18 points and four assists in 43 minutes on Jan. 29, 2015]]>