<![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, 01 Apr 2015 09:37:57 -0700 Wed, 01 Apr 2015 09:37:57 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Jordan Clarkson: Catch-22]]> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 09:32:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-hit-road-Charlotte.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers rookie Jordan Clarkson has developed beyond what most anyone expected in a shorter time than just about everyone imagined.

On the Lakers' most recent road trip, they managed two victories, and both wins came in overtime. In both contests, Clarkson stepped up with the game on the line and knocked down clutch free throws.

In the game against Minnesota, the rookie point guard's foul shots went down as game-winning free throws. In the win over Philadelphia, four late free throws helped send the game into overtime. In Philly, Clarkson would hit a floater with 0.7 on the clock for the game winner.

For a rookie to be coming up big late in games and leading his team to victory, fans should be jumping for joy at the talent that has shone through from an unlikely source. The fact that this 22-year-old earned his entry into the NBA as a second round draft pick should only add to the excitement over the Lakers' hot young prospect.

Sadly, though, Clarkson's game winning plays did not immediately generate joy. On the contrary, his game winner in Philadelphia let out a collective groan across Los Angeles. In the chase for ping pong balls, every loss helps the Lakers' chances in the NBA draft lottery.

This is Clarkson's catch-22.

To be clear, the player does not face any dilemma. He goes out to beat the competition and win every game. The catch-22 is for fans watching at home.

If Clarkson steps up big and hits a game winner or steps to the line and knocks down clutch free throws to tie a game, he is showing maturity and growth. That is worth applauding loudly. Watching a rookie step up late in a game, show confidence and succeed should be celebrated. In a year, or two or three, Clarkson's confidence and execution late in games should be a notable asset.

Yet, fans scream in anger at the potential loss of a draft pick.

For a moment, let us consider the alternative. If Clarkson had bricked his free throws in Minnesota and Philadelphia, lost the games and walked off those courts with his confidence shattered, would fans trust the rookie in big moments a year from now? Would fans who obsess over the Lakers winning titles want or trust a player who did not show a desire to win games? Do fans really want Clarkson to accept and grow accustomed to losing?

After Steve Nash did not survive preseason, Julius Randle broke his leg, Jeremy Lin got off to a less than stellar start and Kobe Bryant overburdened himself with scoring, fans grew obsessed with securing a top-five draft pick. If the Lakers do not end up in the top five after the NBA's draft lottery, they would give up rights to their first round draft pick to the Philadelphia 76ers, who acquired the pick via the Phoenix Suns. The Suns originally got the Lakers' pick as part of the Nash trade.

The Clarkson catch-22 is complex. Fans have to hope that the rookie can perform in winning time and do more than simply collect statistics on a bad team, but at the same time, watching the rookie win games hurts the Lakers' draft standing. Cheer for the rookie to play well and win games or root for him to fail and lose?

Of course, Clarkson is not to blame, and frankly, neither are the Lakers. If the Lakers are in development mode, how can they justify not playing their rookie point guard with the game on the line? Stepping up to the line on the road and hitting high-pressured foul shots with the game hanging in the balance is exactly the type of conditions the team would like to see Clarkson thrive under. Fans cannot help but hope the kid succeeds in that moment, too. However, the moment the ball goes "swish," reality sets in. The surprising speedy development of Clarkson is exactly what fans hoped for, but his accelerated development is exactly what may end up costing the Lakers their highly coveted draft pick.

If the rookie keeps winning games, the Lakers may miss out on their top 2015 draft pick altogether, so the 2014/15 season of losing will feel like a complete waste of time. Then again, the 46th pick in the 2014 draft will probably look better than most any draft pick in the 2015 draft at the start of next season.

At the moment, Clarkson already looks better than the vast majority of the players picked ahead of him, and the 22-year-old is making a strong argument for 2014 NBA All-Rookie first team.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Edge Sixers 113-111 in Overtime]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:07:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Ryan-Kelly-Lakers.jpg

On Monday evening, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 113-111, in an overtime thriller. Jordan Clarkson came up big with clutch free throws at the end of regulation before hitting the game-winner with 0.7 seconds to play in overtime.

On the night, Clarkson finished with 26 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and three steals in nearly 44 minutes of work. The rookie point guard played a controlled game, shot a high percentage from the field and led his team to victory, which was reminiscent of the Lakers' overtime win in Minnesota a few nights earlier.

Jabari Brown, who entered the night unsure if Monday would be his final game as a Laker, finished with 22 points (career-high) on 7-10 shooting. Brown, who was an undrafted rookie, completed his second 10-day contract. Under NBA rules, the Lakers cannot sign Brown to a third 10-day contract and must sign the rookie for the remainder of the season if they want to keep him.

On the strengths of his performances and his continued growth, the Lakers will likely bring Brown back. After Monday's win, Clarkson was asked about Brown by Time Warner Cable SportsNet, and the rookie point guard gave his ringing endorsement: "He belongs here."

Along with the pair of rookies, Ryan Kelly put up one of his better games in a purple and gold uniform. Kelly, who has looked like a different player since moving to his natural power forward position, finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists on the night. The second-year player helped highlight the Lakers' youth movement late in the 2014/15 season.

Also, Wayne Ellington finished with 20 points and came up especially big in the overtime period. The former University of North Carolina Tar Heel scored seven points on 3-3 shooting in the five-minute extra period. Ellington also made a tough pass through traffic to find Clarkson on the game-winning layup.

In his post-game interview on Time Warner Cable SportsNet, the Philadelphia-native appeared to especially enjoy the victory in his hometown. However, a large segment of Lakers' fans did not enjoy the result.

Had the Lakers lost, they would have been level with the Sixers in the wins column. Dropping to the third-worst record by the end of the season would help the Lakers keep their high draft pick. With the win, the Lakers stayed in fourth place in the race to the bottom with 20 wins and 53 losses on the season. Philadelphia is third in the lottery chase, and the Sixers moved to 18-57 with the loss.

If the Lakers end up with a No. 6 pick or lower, the 76ers would get the Lakers' top draft pick as part of the Steve Nash trade.

Next, the Lakers return home to host the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Worst Lakers Team Ever?]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:15:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Worst-Lakers-Team-ever.jpg

Have the Los Angeles Lakers ever been worse?

"No," would be the accurate response. The worst record put forth by the Los Angeles Lakers came only one season ago under Mike D'Antoni. Those Lakers won 27 games out of an 82-game season. The 2014/15 crew would need to finish with eight wins in their final 10 games in order to match D'Antoni's record. In order to avoid holding the title on their own, the 2014/15 Lakers would need to win nine of their final 10 games. Barring an absolute miracle, the 2014/15 Los Angeles Lakers will be the worst team in the history of the franchise since moving to LA.

Have the Lakers (Minneapolis or LA) ever been worse?

"No," again would be the accurate response, but this one is slightly more interesting. Back in the 1957/58 season, the great George Mikan took over the Minneapolis Lakers as head coach. Mikan started the season 9-30 before being replaced by John Kundla during the season. Kundla had previously coached Mikan and the Lakers to five NBA championships, so the accomplished coach helped the Lakers finish 10-23 for a final record of 19-53.

Back then, the NBA season lasted 72 games. Well, the 2014/15 season is 72 games old for the Los Angeles Lakers, and they have a record of 19-53. Through 72 games, the current group is tied for the worst record in the history of the Lakers' franchise.

However, the 2014/15 Lakers will not finish the season in a tie. If the Lakers win two or fewer games over their final 10 contests, they will take sole ownership of the worst winning percentage, i.e. record, in the storied history of the Lakers' franchise. If the Lakers win three or more games (but fewer than 8) of their final 10 games, the 2014/15 Lakers will narrowly edge the 1957/58 team. However, the 2014/15 Lakers would still go down as the worst team in the history of the franchise since moving to LA.

Of course, the Lakers could technically finish with 9 wins in their last 10 games to avoid this entire conversation altogether. This is probably the right time to remind folks that the 2014/15 Lakers' longest winning streak is three games, a feat that they have accomplished twice. Putting those winning streaks to the side, the Lakers have only managed two two-game winning streaks this season. This team has not enjoyed the taste of winning often, and when it has come by, it hasn't lingered long.

Suffice to say, the 2014/15 team will go down as the worst team in the history of the Lakers' franchise, but whether that assertion will require a qualifier of "since the team moved to Los Angeles" remains to be determined.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers in Philly: 10 Games Left]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 08:44:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-at-Philadelphia-76ers.jpg

After 53 losses in 72 contests, only 10 games remain in the Los Angeles Lakers' 2014/15 season to forget.

However, before grabbing a margarita and working to erase the memory of a brutal season, one should take a moment to indulge in exactly how odd this year has become for the purple and gold. Take, for example, the Lakers' opponent on Monday night: the Philadelphia 76ers.

Almost every fan of the Lakers wants a loss on Monday evening.

With a loss to Philly, the Lakers would be even with the Sixers in the wins column. Suddenly, sliding into the third-worst record in the NBA would appear more likely than ever. The drop in rankings would increase the Lakers' odds of earning the no. 1 overall pick from 11.9 percent with the fourth-worst record to 15.6 percent with the third-worst record. With the Lakers in full development mode and not even playing all available players in order to evaluate younger talent, a loss on Monday would go a long way to pushing the Lakers further into a losing tailspin.

After wrapping up in Philadelphia, the Lakers return home for a Wednesday showdown with the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans have already beaten the Lakers three times this season, and Anthony Davis and his cohorts will come to LA motivated by their fight for the postseason.

Then, on Friday, the Portland Trail Blazers come to bid farewell to Staples Center for the summer. Like the Pelicans, the Blazers have also beaten the Lakers thrice this season, and the trip to LA expects to complete a clean sweep of the season series.

Continuing the Western Conference theme, the Lakers follow up Portland's farewell with a home and away set against their cross-town rivals, the LA Clippers. Recently, this has become one of the most one-sided rivalries. The Lakers have dropped five straight to their Staples Center co-tenants, and going back further, the Clippers have beat the Lakers in nine of the last 10 regular season meetings. The majority of those recent meetings have not been competitive.

While a win in Philadelphia would not waste an entire season of toiling near the bottom, a loss in Philly on Monday night would likely push over the domino piece that drops another four pieces to quickly add five more losses to the Lakers' historically bad season. If this all goes to script, which it never does, the Lakers would face a true test of character in the final five games. The season ends with the Lakers playing four of their final five games against teams with losing records.

Back to Monday evening, both the 76ers and the Lakers benefit from a loss at Wells Fargo Center. Since the start of March, the Lakers have only managed three victories in 15 games. Not far off, the Sixers have collected four wins in 16 games since the start of the month.

Ultimately, a loss for the Lakers would help the team's chances to move into third place in the race for the ping pong balls. With only 10 games remaining on the calendar, this sad season is fast approaching its end, and that end cannot arrive fast enough.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nets Cut Down Lakers 107-99]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 21:09:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-at-Nets-3-29-15.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Brooklyn Nets 107-99 on Sunday afternoon to collect loss No. 53 on the season. After three games on the sidelines due to his coach's decisions, Jordan Hill returned to the floor, and the power forward looked refreshed with 22 points and 16 rebounds.

Due to a sluggish and ugly start, the Lakers dug a deep ditch and failed to ever get out. The Nets led Sunday's game wire-to-wire. However, the visitors did not simply roll over and cave; the Lakers managed to climb within three points with 3:49 to play in the ball game. Once again, the Lakers deserved credit for playing hard and not quitting after falling behind by as many as 14 points against the Nets.

Down the final stretch, however, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez took over and settled the contest for good.

Lopez finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds in one of his more dominant performances of the season. Lopez topped 30 points for only the fourth time this season. Williams added 13 points and nine assists on the day.

Contributing to the Lakers' slow start, Jeremy Lin sat out the game due to an upper respiratory infection. Lin's absence certainly did not help the Lakers' cause, as the point guard has been a source of points early in games since moving into the starting lineup.

Along with Lin sitting out, Ed Davis missed his first game of the season. Davis was available, but Lakers coach Byron Scott sat down the 25-year-old to provide Hill minutes on the floor. Unfortunately, the coach's decision may ultimately cost Davis his shot at reaching the minimum to qualify for NBA league leaders in field goal percentage.

Davis must make 300 shots by the end of the season to qualify for the NBA's official statistical leaders. With 10 games remaining, Davis needs 42 more makes. Should he hit that number, the fifth-year professional would rank second in the NBA in field goal percentage behind only DeAndre Jordan of the LA Clippers.

Also, Carlos Boozer sat out for the fourth game in a row despite being available. As the Lakers evaluate talent, the 33-year-old forward playing at any point for the remainder of the season would appear pointless given where the Lakers stand.

Next, the Lakers play in Philadelphia on Monday evening at 4 p.m. Pacific Time. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Go Cold, Lose in Toronto]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:12:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-at-Raptors-recap.jpg

The Toronto Raptors beat the Los Angeles Lakers 94-83, and Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas finished as the leading scorer in the game with 19 points.

In the first quarter, Jeremy Lin made the most of his third straight start with 10 points in his first 12 minutes. Riding the point guard's hot hand, the Lakers jumped out to an early 10-point lead before settling on a 24-17 edge after one quarter.

Not surprisingly, the Toronto Raptors roared back. Less than five minutes into the second quarter, Toronto had leveled the score at 32-32. From there, the Lakers and Raptors hung pretty even, and the Lakers went into the break leading by two points.

Consistently choosing his spots and scoring with a purpose, rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson managed 10 points to match Lin entering the locker room. The Lakers' new-look starting backcourt continued to gel and got off another fine start.

In the third quarter, the Lakers came out cold, which has been a recurring theme in the 2014/15 season. In the third period, the Lakers shot 29.4 percent, and Toronto flipped a two-point deficit into a five-point lead. Through three quarters, Compton-native DeMar DeRozan did not manage a single field goal, but the Raptors still led.

In the fourth quarter, the game would get out of hand. DeRozan would eventually get a bucket, but that wasn't the story. The Lakers simply stayed cold, and safe to assume that Toronto knows how to handle a cold front. The Lakers would shoot 26.3 percent in the fourth quarter to finish at 34.5 percent for the game. 

A quick glance at the scoreboard had the Lakers down 10 points. Two blinks later, the lead would jump to 17 points. From there, the result was decided, and the score became academic.

For the hometown Raptors, Louis Williams and James Johnson combined to score 35 points off the bench. Over all, five Raptors finished scoring in double figures. Toronto won its 43rd game of the season and clinched the Atlantic division with the victory.

The Lakers lost their 52nd game of the season. Next, the Lakers play in Brooklyn on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Notes: Lin finished as the top scorer and top assist-man for the Lakers with 18 points and five assists. Clarkson finished with 14 points but did not manage a single assist. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Face Raptors Friday]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 09:54:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-at-Raptors-3-27-15.jpg

On Friday evening in Toronto, the Los Angeles Lakers play game no. 3 of a five-game road trip.

The Toronto Raptors have leveled off after a surprisingly hot start. Entering Friday's contest, Canada's only NBA team ranks fourth in the Eastern Conference despite a recent stretch of play that included nine losses over 10 games.

Since that free fall, the Raptors have slightly steadied the ship with four wins in their last eight games. Mind you, two of those wins came against the Minnesota Timberwolves and the New York Knicks, best described as the worst teams in each conference.

The Lakers, however, are not exactly world beaters, and this is the player development portion of a losing season. The Lakers are not tanking games, as they showed in their overtime win in Minnesota. The development stage may not always look pretty, especially on offense, but it serves a vital purpose in evaluating talent.

For starters, Ryan Kelly and his beard are playing power forward, and it hasn't been a disaster. Since Byron Scott decided to start Kelly at his natural position, the former Duke Blue Devil has put up two straight double-digit scoring performances, which is a first for Kelly in the 2014-15 season. While not exactly shooting lights-out, Kelly's 40.9 percent shooting over the past two games is a dramatic improvement on how the forward had been shooting over the past few weeks. It was ugly enough that we need not get into those numbers.

For undrafted rookie Tarik Black, the opportunity to start games is vital. He is a player only just realizing the natural strength he possesses and the power that comes with it. With his physical presence he can dominate the paint defensively, and experiencing how to impose his presence on NBA games should only further help the 23-year-old center over the coming weeks.

While Byron Scott's approach may not rub the modern analytics folks the right way, he is generally well regarded by his players. Scott dropped Black out of the rotation for a handful of game, which drew modest levels of criticism. However, sitting Black down for a few games may have helped the rookie step back and approach play from a slightly improved mental position.

Certainly, Scott's approach with rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson has not been criticized. The Lakers' coach protected the rookie and allowed him to observe from the bench for the better part of three months. In late January and on the road, Scott set Clarkson free in San Antonio, which happened to be Clarkson's home town.

From that point forward, the point guard has been the best story on the LA Lakers. Even point guard Steve Nash, who recently retired, began mentoring Clarkson in specialized sessions. The pair of point guards meets periodically for one-on-ones.

A couple of games ago, Clarkson went into Oklahoma City and scored a career-high 30 points, and his seven assists and four rebounds in that same contest hinted at the potential waiting to be tapped. In his last game, the rookie willed the Lakers to victory and hit six clutch free throws in overtime to win the game. Clarkson wasn't tanking.

On Friday in Toronto, Clarkson and the Lakers play their 71st game of the 2014/15 NBA season. Game time is 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Top Timberwolves in Ugly OT Win]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 06:07:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-win-ugly-Minnesota.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers claimed an ugly 101-99 overtime victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves behind a resilient performance from rookie Jordan Clarkson. The Lakers' 22-year-old rookie scored eight points in the overtime period, including a pair of game-winning free throws, which helped balance out his six turnovers on the night.

Before chiding the rookie on his six errors, one should point out that this was one the uglier games in recent memory. Considering the current season comprises of 51 losses and only 19 victories, saying that this game dried more the eyeballs than most is saying a great deal.

"It was a really ugly game to watch," Time Warner Cable SportsNet analyst James Worthy said in his opening post-game remarks. As a reminder, Worthy works for the television station broadcasting the game.

Minnesota only suited up eight healthy bodies with Justin Hamilton playing despite suffering intense headaches and missing the past four games. Hamilton contributed fewer than 10 minutes against the Lakers and was one of only three players not to turn the ball over--Ryan Kelly and Sean Kilpatrick being the other two.

Turnovers told the story, as the Western Conference's two worst (and most injured) teams promised fireworks and delivered 35 combined turnovers.

"It wasn't pretty, but we continued to play," Clarkson could not help but say in his on-court victory interview with Time Warner Cable SportsNet.

Clarkson hit the game-winning free throws and scored eight points in the overtime period to finish with 20 points, five assists and five rebounds. However, when asked to describe the game, the rookie looked at reporter Mike Trudell with a look of hesitation asking if he should tell the truth. He did. With half a nervous smile, Clarkson said, "It was an ugly game."

Both teams shot 42 percent from the field, but the Lakers edged the Timberwolves by a tenth of a percent. From beyond the arc, the Timberwolves edged the Lakers by shooting a lowly average of 27.3 percent. The Lakers made only six of 23 from distance. Overall, this game would be one to forget.

Perhaps Time Warner Cable SportsNet television play-by-play announcer Bill MacDonald said is best in his post-game remarks:

"'Wow' is what you can say about that," MacDonald said as color commentator Stu Lantz laughed. "There was a lot of ugliness in that game."

Next, the Lakers play in Toronto on Friday.

Quote of the night:

"The game is made of mistakes. It's not the mistake you make; it's how you recover from the mistake." - Acting Lakers head coach Paul Pressey describing Jordan Clarkson finishing the game strong after making numerous errors.

Notes: Pressey went 1-1 as acting Head Coach while Byron Scott missed two games to be with his family following the death of his mother. Scott expects to re-join the team in Toronto, where the Lakers play on Friday. Andrew Wiggins finished with 27 points, six rebounds and four assists to lead the Timberwolves. Chase Budinger scored 22 points on 9/14 shooting. Jabari Brown earned the nod in overtime over Jeremy Lin, who finished with 19 points, five assists and three turnovers. Ed Davis continued to be productive with 14 points (7/9 shooting) and nine rebounds in only 22 minutes. Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill did not play for the second straight game despite being available.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers at Timberwolves]]> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 12:12:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-at-Minnesota-Timberwolves.jpg

With almost no time to dwell on Tuesday's defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers take the court in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Wednesday evening.

The last the time Lakers took Minneapolis' hardwood floor, the home team stopped the game in order to hand Kobe Bryant a game ball and congratulate the 36-year-old on passing Michael Jordan on the NBA's all-time scoring list. The Lakers won that mid-December game and have gone 8-35 since.

Over those subsequent 43 games, Bryant's shoulder gave out, Steve Nash officially retired, Nick Young suffered a fracture in his knee cap and Ronnie Price underwent surgery on his elbow. While Young hopes to return, Price sounded less than optimistic about playing again this season. Rookie Julius Randle looks like he's progressing, but the Lakers have been clear that the rookie is preparing for NBA Summer League and will not play any part in this 2014/15 season. Randle broke his leg on opening night and then, underwent a later surgery on his foot.

At this advanced stage in the season, Lakers coach Byron Scott has seemingly switched the focus from winning games to entirely going out with the intention of developing talent. In Tuesday's loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers did not play their two most polished NBA players, Jordan Hill and Carlos Boozer.

Talk coming out of the Oklahoma City visitors' locker room revealed that this change could be in place for at least another three to four games. With Scott not physically in attendance on Wednesday due to his mother's funeral, the Lakers should continue with the same rotations established against the Thunder.

Ryan Kelly, Tarik Black and Robert Sacre are earning opportunities to shine and prove they belong in this league and on this team. Kelly expects to play extended minutes at his natural position of power forward, and the second-year player has been promoted to the starting lineup. Black continues to start at center, and Sacre returned to the rotation as a big man off the bench. Ed Davis is the fourth big man in the rotation.

With the scoring abilities of Hill and Boozer watching from the sidelines, rookie Jordan Clarkson took hold of the extra available shots and attacked with greater dynamism. Against the Thunder, the rookie notched the first 30-point game of his NBA career.

To pair with Clarkson, the Lakers have also returned Jeremy Lin to the starting lineup. The combination of Lin and Clarkson is intriguing and should provide highlight plays considering the strong play both players have been putting up lately.

Timberwolves Notes

Ricky Rubio, Kevin Garnett and another six of Minnesota's players are out with injuries, as coach Flip Saunders looks to provide rookies Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins the same types of opportunities and playing time afforded to Kelly and Clarkson. Playing with only seven available players, the T-Wolves managed an overtime victory in Utah on Monday night. LaVine scored 27 points but also committed seven turnovers. Wiggins had 22 points and seven rebounds in the win.

The Lakers and T-Wolves start the clock at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clarkson Impresses, Lakers Lose]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 21:00:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Russell-Westbrook-Lakers-Thunder.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday evening, and that hardly came as a surprise. On this occasion, the team failed to protect the paint and attempted to foolishly outscore the Thunder in Oklahoma City. Predictably, the Lakers lost 127-117.

However, far more meaningful than the result was the continued development of rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson, who finished as the leading scorer in the game with 30 points.

Thirty points would be a new career-high for Clarkson, and the rookie point guard also added seven assists and four rebounds to the stat sheet. On this night, the 22-year-old played with maturity and control in a game that featured Clarkson attempting a game-high 19 shots and converting 12 of them.

With regards to the competition level of the game, the Lakers fell behind by double-digits early and never quite got back into the game. However, credit to interim head coach Paul Pressey for keeping his guys engaged and fighting. The team fought back from 20 points down early in the fourth quarter to finish the game down by 10 points at the final buzzer.

Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who was Long Beach born and UCLA bred, only played three quarters and still managed 27 points and 11 assists. Overall, Westbrook still looked like the premier athlete on the court. That being said, Clarkson managed a few highlight plays of his own and did more than enough to earn praise after the game.

Jeremy Lin, Clarkson's new starting backcourt partner, finished with 19 points and seven assists in 30 minutes. In particular, Lin played a strong first half and attacked with regularity. The new backcourt duo appeared to be clicking early, and this combination of Clarkson and Lin should continue for at least a handful of games.

Along with Lin back in the starting lineup, Ryan Kelly also joined the starting five. Finally, Kelly earned time at power forward, which is his natural position. Offensively, he found a rhythm and hit five of nine shots for 16 points. However, since neither team appeared interested in playing defense, Kelly will need to prove himself against the stronger power forwards in the NBA in order to survive at the position.

Continuing the lineup theme, Robert Sacre also earned playing time after being looked over for seven consecutive games. Sacre's inclusion meant Jordan Hill and Carlos Boozer did not enter the game despite being available.

The Lakers cannot dwell over the loss long, as the team travels to Minneapolis late Tuesday night and faces the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Steve Nash Hopes to Stay in LA "Forever"]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 15:16:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Steve-Nash-goodbye-3-24-15.jpg

On early Tuesday afternoon, Steve Nash sat in front of a Los Angeles Lakers backdrop wearing a black suit and tie as he publicly waved farewell by making a short statement and answering questions.

"The one thing I want to say today is a huge heartfelt thank you to the Buss family and to the entire Lakers' organization. Just an incredible experience for me to be a part of that history and tradition," Nash started out before taking questions.

Lakers owners Jim Buss and Joey Buss both attended the press conference, but Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak missed the event, as he was in Europe scouting talent.

"We know it didn't go the way we planned, but I was treated incredibly in my time here," the 41-year-old said.

To start the press conference, Nash clearly acknowledged that his time with the Lakers would always be a failure. However, he appeared at peace with the fact that he could not overcome his age and physical state to lace up a pair of sneakers and play at an NBA level because he had explored every possible avenue.

Nash said that he came into training camp expecting to be part and get through the year. The point guard said he felt up to the task and played well in the first preseason game. However, the next morning after the preseason game in San Diego proved to be the first moment that the doubt crept in. His body was a wreck. As the preseason wore on, the reality that he would not be able to slog through another season became more and more evident.

The Canadian said he met with Kupchak multiple times before making the final decision to sit out the season. Nash admitted that he was likely the last person to know his chance had gone.

"What's next?" a reporter asked.

Nash said he did not have an answer to the question and would still need six to 12 months before providing an answer to that question. However, the sure-fire first ballot Hall-of-Famer said he would be open to helping the Lakers in free agency and had already been helping a set of the younger Lakers, namely Julius Randle, Ryan Kelly and Jordan Clarkson.


Steve Nash says goodbye at his retirement press conference. #nbalegend #alltimegreat #pureclass

A photo posted by Shahan (@shahanla) on

The last name on that list has been the most closely connected to the recently retired superstar, and Nash said, "Jordan's been an incredible pupil."

Asked by NBCLA.com if he planned to retire in Los Angeles long-term, Nash said, "I'm going to stay in LA with my kids and make this home forever, hopefully."

So, what is the takeaway from the story of Steve Nash?

"I simply want people to remember me as a competitor and a great teammate. That's it," Nash answered a question about his legacy. "Those are the two most important things."

"I think that's what makes my story interesting, that I had one scholarship offer and wasn't ever a sure thing." Nash added. "The key ingredient was just hard work."

The Canadian serves as an incredibly positive and recent example of beating the odds and breaking the mold. Even in Hollywood, the ending does not always go according to script, but Nash continued to show class until the end.

When asked what he would like to say to his fans, Nash answered, "An incredibly heartfelt 'thank you.'"

Even in his final NBA moment, Nash couldn't help but give gratitude. That's just who Steve Nash is, and now, he's part of the City of Los Angeles, hopefully, forever. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers at Thunder: Preview]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 02:56:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jordan-Clarkson-faces-Westbrook.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers start a five-game road trip on Tuesday evening, and the first stop is Oklahoma City, where Long Beach native Russell Westbrook and the Thunder welcome the Lakers to Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Thunder superstar Kevin Durant, who is the reigning league MVP, recently took a step back in his rehabilitation from a foot injury. Per Royce Young of ESPN, Durant was "removed from basketball activities" and is currently flirting with missing the remainder of the season according to Thunder general manager Sam Presti.

The day before Presti updated Durant's status, Westbrook scored 36 points to go along with 14 assists and 10 rebounds in a victory over the best team in the East, the Atlanta Hawks. The day after Durant's status update, Westbrook finished one rebound shy of a triple-double in a one-sided victory over the playoff-chasing Miami Heat.

Durant or not, the Oklahoma City Thunder can beat the best, and Westbrook deserves recognition for his astonishing play. The 26-year-old has logged seven triple-doubles in his last 13 games. From Feb. 24, when Westbrook started a four-game streak of triple-doubles, to Mar. 24, when the Lakers play the Thunder, the volcanic guard is averaging 32.2 points, 11.1 assists and 10.3 rebounds per game.

Yes, Westbrook has averaged a triple-double for a full month of the NBA season. The fact that he accomplished that remarkable feat while averaging 30-plus points per game is mind-boggling. Westbrook may not be in position to win a title if Durant's status does not dramatically improve, but he is the single most exciting player in the NBA at the moment.

Facing Westbrook, the Lakers roll out rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson. While the Lakers' rookie appears to be hitting a metaphorical wall at this late stage of the season, facing Westbrook promises to provide a few spotlight moments for the 22-year-old. Clarkson fits the Westbrook model in that he is an over-sized point guard with a shoot-first mentality, exceptional speed and next-level athleticism. If Clarkson turns into anything close to Westbrook, that $1 million the Lakers spent on the second round draft pick could be the best investment the Lakers have made in a long time.

Entering Tuesday night's game, Westbrook appears to be realizing his potential, while the Lakers' rookie has barely glimpsed all that he can be. Clarkson versus Westbrook may not exactly sell tickets in Oklahoma City, but for fans of the Lakers still watching games in LA, Mar. 24 is about as good as the season gets from here on out.

Tip-off is 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Game Notes: Lakers coach Byron Scott will not be present due to the passing of his mother. Assistant coach Paul Pressey will assume the lead seat on the bench. Prior to the team departing, Scott announced that Clarkson, Jeremy Lin, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly and Tarik Black will start Tuesday's game. Nick Young, who suffered a fracture in his left kneecap, remains sidelined for the Lakers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Scott Mourns Mom, Lin to Start For Lakers]]> Mon, 23 Mar 2015 13:26:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jeremy-Lin-starting-Byron-Scott.jpg

Before hopping a 2 p.m. flight to Oklahoma City for Tuesday night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers met for practice on Monday morning.

Lakers coach Byron Scott led the session, but he will not be travelling with the team to Oklahoma City for family reasons. Scott recently lost his mother, and the coach will stay behind to attend his late mother's funeral service.

"Anyone who has been as close as I was with my mom, has lost a mom, they understand what I'm going through," a softer sounding Scott said after Monday's practice. "It's just a very difficult time for myself and my family."

Scott admitted that working with the team had helped take his mind off the loss, but he could not help but think about his mother when he had time to himself.

"(I'm) just trying to stay busy and not think about it as much as possible, which is impossible," Scott said before trying to be positive about the passing. "She's in a much better place, and she's not in pain anymore."

While Scott stays back home for a couple extra days, the Los Angeles Lakers will travel to Oklahoma City and then to Minneapolis to face the Minnesota Timberwolves. After that, Scott expects to re-join the team for Friday's game in Toronto. Assistant Paul Pressey will lead the team, and Scott said he did not hesitate in temporarily handing his post over to Pressey. 

However, before the Lakers embarked on their five-game road trip, which is the longest of the season, Scott decreed a few changes to the starting lineup. Jeremy Lin will start alongside Jordan Clarkson in the backcourt, which means the Lakers will play without a true point guard off the bench. Wayne Ellington will make way for Lin and move into the reserve unit. Lin scored 29 points, which was the player's season-high, in Sunday night's win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Along with Lin, Ryan Kelly will return to the starting lineup and play as a power forward. Wesley Johnson and Tarik Black will retain their positions in the starting five.

The Lakers and Thunder get the ball rolling at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Edge Sixers, Lin Scores 29]]> Sun, 22 Mar 2015 21:31:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Lin-beat-sixers.jpg

On Sunday evening at Staples Center, Jeremy Lin set a new season-high with 29 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers past the Philadelphia 76ers 101-87. With the victory, the Lakers snapped a four-game losing streak and won their 18th game of the season.

In the first half, Lin and Jordan Hill led the home team with two impressive shooting performances. Lin started out by making his first three shots and went into the halftime break with eight points. However, the 26-year-old point guard would hold of on truly stamping his mark on the game until the second half.

Hill would make his first six shots, and only a missed free throw to put a blemish on an otherwise perfect performance by the power forward in the first half. Hill also had grabbed five rebounds to tie as top-rebounder at the break; Tarik Black and Ed Davis also had five rebounds at the intermission.

While Philadelphia struggled with its shot early and only managed to shoot 40.9 percent by halftime, the visiting Sixers still built a 10-point lead in the first half. By halftime, though, the Lakers had cut that deficit to six points and trailed 47-41. Thomas Robinson's 10 points off Philly's bench at halftime certainly helped the visitors' cause.

In the third quarter, the Lakers would battle back and momentarily take hold of the lead. Lin continued his strong play from the first half. In the final 5:25 of the third period, the point guard scored nine points and dished two assists. Lin would enter the fourth quarter as the leading scorer in the game with 17 points.

At the start of the fourth period, Davis would emerge as a defensive presence on one end and a clinical finisher on the other. With Lin finding the Lakers' big man in transition, the Lakers rode that energetic combination to an 11-point advantage with about six minutes left to play.

From there, the Lakers would cruise behind the Davis and Lin combination and even build out a 15-point lead. Davis scored six points and blocked four shots in the final period. Lin, meanwhile, added 12 more points and three more assists in the final period to take his final figures to 29 points, five assists and five rebounds.

Next, the Lakers play the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

Notes: Lakers coach Byron Scott will miss the next two games to attend the funeral service for his late mother. Assistant coach Paul Pressey will assume the head coaching seat in the interim. Scott expects to re-join the team on Friday in Toronto.

<![CDATA[Steve Nash: All-Time Great]]> Sun, 22 Mar 2015 09:19:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Steve-Nash-retireing-Kobe-Bryant.jpg

Honestly, Steve Nash was one of the greatest pure basketball players I have ever seen. He could dribble around, under and through anybody. Big or small, Nash buried them all. On news of his retirement, I figured I would share a few thoughts on covering the greatest Canadian basketball player of all time for what amounted to his final three years in the NBA. Full disclosure, I appreciated every interaction with Nash, who epitomized being a professional in the face of adversity and a gentleman in the face of rude questions. All the best, Steve.

Steve Nash exuded professionalism. When asked a question, he would think it through and provide a genuine and thoughtful response, even if that answer did not shed the brightest light on his injury situation. He was an honest man, and the fans celebrated that straight-forward approach. After he said, "I want the money," his next appearance at Staples Center featured a loud ovation.

Really, though, Nash was incredible. In the season Kobe Bryant scored 81 points, Nash easily beat out the Mamba in first place votes for the 2006 M.V.P. award: Nash 57, Bryant 22. LeBron James collected the third-most first-place votes with 16. That vote serves as an illustration of how good Nash truly was.

In that same M.V.P. season, Nash and the Phoenix Suns encountered Bryant and the LA Lakers in the first round of the 2006 playoffs. In game four of the seven-game series, Bryant would hit a game-tying shot with 0.7 seconds to play in regulation, so the game required five extra minutes. Then, in one of the most magical moments of Bryant's career, he picked up the ball at mid-court with 6.1 seconds remaining in overtime: Lakers down by one. Bryant dribbled from the left sideline, passed the free throw line, got to the elbow and shot a fadeaway jump shot: ball left hand with 1.2 seconds left. The buzzer sounded exactly as the ball went through the net, and the Lakers took a 3-1 lead on Nash's Suns.

How good was Nash? The Suns won the next three games to win the series 4-3. Phoenix would go on to beat the LA Clippers in the next round and eventually lose to the Dallas Mavericks in the Conference Finals.

Sadly, Nash never progressed past the Conference Finals and never earned the opportunity to play in the NBA Finals. The San Antonio Spurs and the LA Lakers had a great deal to do with the Canadian failing to capture that illusive Larry O'Brian trophy.

"I don't hide from that. I didn't win a championship," Nash told ESPN.com's Marc Stein in a video interview released in concert with the announcement of his retirement. "I don't get caught up in legacy or where I fit in."

Nash went on, "I'll always be disappointed I didn't win a championship for sure, but there's a lot more to life, as well."

In the final season Nash appeared on the court, Nash slogged through 15 games. Even then, he always wore a smile and carried a friendly wave in passing. With the exception of Dwight Howard, who often referred to Nash as "old," no other teammates even halfway took shots at the Canadian. The locker room respected his fight and appreciated his professionalism. He fought hard to end his career on his own terms, but that fight proved futile.

Ultimately, the broken leg suffered in Portland on Halloween night proved to be the nightmare that slowly ended a career that had been hindered by a bad back for several years.

When the fans' outrage over his injuries reached a fever pitch, Nash reminded reporters that he deserved his paycheck because, well, he did get hurt on the job playing basketball. After all, that was part of the contract. Documenting his struggle to get back onto the court, the Canadian provided an inside view into how hard he continued to work hard with odds heavily stacked against him.

Watching their gamble fail, the Lakers saw Nash working hard every day to live out his contract, so they could not fault the player. Bad luck had broken his leg. The Lakers understood the risks when they made the trade to get Nash.

After all the hard work, time passed Nash by. When he suffered a setback during the Lakers' 2015 training camp, the Canadian called it quits before the final preseason game in Las Vegas, Nevada. He took time to get away. He traveled. He spent time with his family. He attempted to adjust to life beyond basketball, but he never confirmed that he had played his last game. Nash had not officially retired.

On Saturday, Mar. 19, 2015, Nash did just that with the first two words in his farewell essay entitled, "Life After Basketball." Nash wrote, "I'm retired."

He was 41 years old.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Praise Nash on News of Retirement]]> Sat, 21 Mar 2015 16:19:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Steve-Nash-announces-retirement_Lakers.jpg

Two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash earned praise from Los Angeles Lakers' players and coaches Saturday on the news of his retirement.

"(He's) one of the best players and one of the best people I've ever been around," coach Byron Scott said. "I wish I had the opportunity to spend more time with him and coach him for a few years, but obviously that didn't happen. But as a person and as a basketball player, there's nobody better."

Scott added, "He was the modern day Bob Cousy."

Nash clearly announced his retirement via an article published on the Players' Tribune on Saturday morning: "I'm retiring." 

In the article, Nash went on to identify several experiences that helped shape him and thank several of the people that helped drive him to his Hall-of-Fame caliber career. At one point in the article, Nash stated, "I will never play basketball again. I already miss the game deeply, but I'm also really excited to learn to do something else."

How great was Nash in his prime? Scott offered his experience as an opposing coach faced with the unenviable job of slowing down Nash.

"The one thing I always said about [Nash] when we played him is, 'Guys, we can't give him a steady diet of one thing. He's too good. He's going to pick it apart.' I had a team in New Orleans that was pretty good, and we changed up every quarter on our pick and roll coverage with Steve Nash just because of Steve Nash."

Scott added, "We didn't do that with anybody else in the league, but every quarter, we gave him a different look."

Fans in LA famously grew frustrated with Nash being unable to play regularly following a broken leg suffered in only his second game with the Lakers. Fans called talk shows and flooded the internet with criticism, and the Lakers' coach offered perspective on how fans of the team should still respect Nash's time with the Lakers.

"I think the fans also need to look at the fact that the guy did everything possible to get on the court," Scott said. "I don't think they take into consideration that he's hurt. He had some physical problems, but he did everything possible to get on the court, and I think they should really take that in consideration."

Scott added, "Take a look at everything he's done over his career and judge him by that, not by what ended up happening here [in LA]."

"From growing up in Vancouver, he's always been that guy that Canadians have always looked up to," Lakers' teammate and fellow Canadian Robert Sacre said on Saturday. "It's kind of sad to see it coming to the end, but I've been so honored and blessed to be able to play with him and just be a teammate."

"I've never seen anybody work harder," Sacre added. "People are always down on, 'well, he's always hurt,' but you don't understand how hard he works just to get five minutes on the court."

Nash's work ethic consistently came up during his career, and even amidst injuries, his coaches and teammates praised the aging point guard for working hard despite his body clearly not having enough left in the tank to be an NBA player.

Nash may be done as a player, but he still continues on as a mentor. For the Canadian national team, Nash plays an integral in recruiting and managing the team. For the Lakers, he has been working with rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson in one-on-one sessions to improve the 22-year-old's game.

"It's definitely hard to give it up, but he still wants to be involved," Clarkson said on Saturday. "You can tell when he comes in and works in the gym [with me].

The rookie added, "He still has love for the game."

<![CDATA[Tarik Blacks Shines, Lakers Lose to Jazz]]> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 01:49:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-rookie-Tarik-Black.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers lost their 50th game of the season on Thursday night, as the Utah Jazz beat the Lakers 80-73 at Staples Center.

In one of the uglier games in recent memory, bustling and bruising rookie Tarik Black provided a scoring and rebounding presence in what could possibly be described as his best game to date. Facing the extra length of Rudy Gobert, Black did not back down from one of the most overpowering defensive figures in the NBA. Instead, the Lakers' rookie took on the challenge and threw down a couple monster slam dunks.

Black finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds to claim the third double-double of his career. He fell one point and one rebound shy of his career-highs in both categories. Going against Gobert, Black's performance stood out as special.

When NBCLA.com caught up with the rookie center and asked him if his strength helped him mentally cope with Gobert's size, the 23-year-old shared an interaction with player development coach Larry Lewis earlier in the day.

"[Lewis] told me that I don't understand how strong I really am, and I don't think I really do either," Black said. "I know I move guys, but I don't really feel like the strongest guy out there. Things happen for me, and I guess looking at it, it's kind of like, 'this guy is really strong.' But when I'm out there on the floor, it's not really like 'I'm the hulk.'"

Black tried to clarify his point, "That extra strength helps, but on another note, I don't really understand how strong I really am."

When asked about how Black compensated for the extra height he gave up to Gobert on the night, Lakers coach Byron Scott pointed directly to Black's physical characteristics.

"I think brute strength has something to do with it," Scott responded.

Scott praised his rookie's defense, energy and athleticism. The coach pointed to Black's post-up game and his jump shot as areas to develop, and the rookie agreed with his coach's assessment.

"I kind of look at him in the same mold as Kenneth Faried--a guy that's all over the place, plays super hard," Scott said of Black. "His real true skill is how hard he plays."

Notes: Jeremy Lin played through back spasms, and his status for Sunday's game remains in doubt. Scott said Lin would likely only receive treatment on Friday in lieu of practice. The Lakers' coach also said rookie Jabari Brown would likely be signed to a second 10-day contract. Rookie Jordan Clarkson tabbed eight points and eight assists, the latter of which was a personal best.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Update: Jeremy Lin Back Spasms]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 23:39:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ByronScottJeremyLinback_31915_1200x675_415734339553.jpg Lakers coach Byron Scott spoke about Jeremy Lin's back and how he was impressed that Lin could take part in the March 19, 2015 loss to the Utah Jazz.]]> <![CDATA[Byron Talks Rookie Tarik Black]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 23:41:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ByronScottonTarikBlack_31915_1200x675_415729731601.jpg LA Lakers coach Byron Scott spoke about the development and strength of rookie Tarik Black on March 19, 2015 at Staples Center]]> <![CDATA[Lakers Forward Ed Davis' Efficiency]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 05:35:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Ed-Davis-March-19-15.jpg

Never too high or low, Ed Davis joined the Los Angeles Lakers as a largely unknown commodity. Hiding behind Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in Memphis, Davis did not previously earn consistent enough playing time to show his consistency around the basket on both ends.

Not one to draw attention to himself, the 6-foot 10-inch forward has been the most consistent player on the Los Angeles Lakers in a season that has been anything but.

For starters, Davis is the only LA Laker to play in all 66 games during the 2014/15 season. Had Jeremy Lin not been benched for one game, he would be the only other Laker to claim the same. As it stands, Davis is the only player on pace to appear in all 82 games, and no, he has yet to ask the coach for a rest due to fatigue.

For the season, Davis shoots 60.7 percent from the field, which is the best on the team. If he manages to make 65 more field goals over the final 16 games of the season, Davis would rank second in the NBA in field goal percentage behind LA Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, 70.8 percent. The league minimum to qualify as a league leader for field goal percentage is 300 made shots, and Davis falls shy of that mark.

Davis, who only averages 5.9 attempts per game, is not a guy who looks for his own shot. He plays within the offense and relies on setting hard screens and rolling to the hoop to get scores. For all the hoopla over Jordan Hill's ability to command offensive rebounds, Davis averages 2.9 offensive rebounds per game and leads the Lakers in that category. League-wide, Davis ranks 15th in the NBA on the offensive glass, and so, he tends to create his own scoring opportunities via hard work under the basket.

As a note, all 14 players ahead of Davis in the offensive rebounding rankings average more minutes than the Lakers' power forward.

On the opposite end of the floor, Davis is also the Lakers' leading shot blocker. He is the only player to average over a block per game on the team, as the 25-year-old averages 1.3 blocks per outing. That average is good enough for 24th in the NBA.

Davis' efficiency around the basket became apparent early in preseason, as the soft spoken power forward finished the Lakers' exhibition season making 27 of 37 shots, which calculated to 73.0 percent. Far from a fluke, Davis has not had a single month shooting under 50 percent. For March, he is shooting 69.8 percent from the field.

Whether in the starting lineup or off the bench, Davis provides consistent levels of energy and efficiency. His finishing around the rim looks simple, but Davis' hard work makes it seem so. His ability to finish around the basket is unique and should not be taken for granted. 

However, Davis is not the type to mouth off. As Nick Young screams and laughs loudly in the locker room, Davis looks over, cracks a quarter smile and puts his headphones on. Part of that air of professionalism comes from Davis' background. The son of a Terry Davis, who played 10 seasons in the NBA, and the product of the University of North Carolina, the 25-year-old displays maturity beyond his years.

Unfortunately, Davis came to LA on a two-year deal that held a player option on the second year. Davis has already made it clear, for the aforementioned reasons, that he will pick up the option and test the open market. However, he has stated numerous times that he hopes to stay in LA.

Considering his pedigree, production, professionalism and potential, the case to sign Davis is easier to make than the case against signing the power forward, but the Lakers will likely need to spend decent coin in order to do so. Whether or not Davis fits into the Lakers' long term plans remains to be seen.

In the short term, Davis will play game no. 67 against the Utah Jazz on Thursday night at Staples Center.

Notes: Reading Davis' quotes from his signing day with the Lakers, the power forward has lived up to the description he provided on day no. 1. Also, wearing Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak's college number and having attended the executive's Alma Mater certainly do not hurt Davis' chances of returning to the Lakers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Star Suffers Fracture, Gets Haircut]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 15:50:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Nick-Young-Lakers-knee-fracture.jpg

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Lakers announced that guard Nick Young suffered a small fracture of his knee cap, but the 29-year-old will not require surgery to solve the problem.

Already, Young had missed 11 games due to a swollen left knee, and so, the team sent him in for a CT scan on Monday. Results of the scan did not become available until Wednesday after the LA Lakers had completed practice. Young was present but did not take part in the session as he awaited results.

The team announced that Young will be re-evaluated on a weekly basis, but the small fracture is expected to heal on its own with rest.

Going back to practice for a moment, Young appeared with a new haircut that set the internet ablaze.

Perhaps, Lakers coach Byron Scott said it best when he said, "That's not a haircut. I don't know what that is. That's a lost bet or something."

While Young somehow manages to still draw attention off the court, fans would love to see his energetic play at some point over the final 16 games of the Lakers' season. For now, Young should be out at least another week.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Stand Tall, Still Fall to Warriors]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 01:56:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Warriors-1.jpg

On Monday night, the Los Angeles Lakers fought valiantly before losing for the 49th time this season.

The Lakers came in as 18-point underdogs against the team with the best record in the NBA in the arena with the best home record. Only two teams still had claimed victories in Oakland during the 2014/15 NBA season: the San Antonio Spurs (the defending champions) and the Chicago Bulls (with Derrick Rose). The LA Lakers nearly became the third team on that exclusive list, save for a few late mistakes that cost the team late.

Playing for the second time and in the second city in as many nights, the out-of-contention Los Angeles Lakers could have easily gone into Oracle Arena against the Golden State Warriors, played selfish basketball, accumulated statistics and lost by 30 points. Not a soul would have batted an eye at that result.

The Lakers, thankfully, did not do that.

Instead, the visitors came out and went blow for blow with the best team in the NBA. Previously, the Lakers had shocked the Warriors earlier in the season at Staples Center, so fear was not a factor for the visitors. After Lakers coach Byron Scott complained about ball movement, or lack thereof, after Sunday's loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Monday was a different story.

By the end of the game, six different Lakers would finish scoring in double figures.

Playing for each other, the Lakers matched the Warriors with 30 points in the first quarter. Were it not for 14 turnovers in the half, the Lakers would surely have been leading entering the break. Instead, LA trailed the Warriors by four points despite Stephen Curry, who is the leading candidate for the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award, only scoring two points through the first 24 minutes.

Wayne Ellington got off to a bright start and logged 15 first-half points to lead all scorers, but the Warriors made adjustments, and the former University of North Carolina Tar Heel did not hit a field goal in the second half.

In the third quarter, Curry attacked and scored 11 points, which helped the Warriors' lead hit eight points after the point guard completed a four-point play. However, continued balanced performances by the underdogs kept LA alive. At the horn for the end of three quarters, the Lakers trailed by only four points with momentum swinging the Lakers' way.

However, the officials should have awarded Curry two free throws when Jeremy Lin fouled the Warriors' point guard with 30.4 seconds remaining in the third quarter since it was the second foul in the last two minutes of the quarter. As such, the home team started the fourth quarter with a couple free throws that quickly splashed through the net.

Down by six points entering the final quarter on the second night of a back-to-back, the Lakers could have folded. Thankfully, this team continued to fight. Fueled by 12 second-half points from Lin and 10 second half points apiece from both Jordan Clarkson and Carlos Boozer, the Lakers clawed back to tie the contest at with 4:42 to go in the ball game.

In the blink of an eye, a couple bad Lin turnovers and a trio of Curry assists gave the Warriors a seven-point lead with two and a half minutes remaining. Fatigue likely played a factor in Lin's errors, and Scott quickly switch the backup point guard for his rookie starter approaching the final couple minutes.

Clarkson played well, scored a bucket and hit a couple clutch free throws that brought the Lakers to within one point with 6.3 seconds to play. That was as close as the Lakers would come.

After two games in two nights, the Lakers should get Tuesday off and return to practice on Wednesday morning. Then, the Lakers face the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on Thursday night.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Take on Warriors]]> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 18:11:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Warriors-3-16-15.jpg

The Golden State Warriors have only lost 13 games during the 2014/15 NBA season.

With seven fewer losses than any other team in the Western Conference, Golden State should easily cruise to the best record in the West. The Warriors' only worry is Atlanta, who only trails Golden State by half a game in the standings. However, that head-to-head difference would not come into play until and unless both teams make it to the NBA Finals.

The Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Hawks on Sunday at Staples Center, which means Monday night in rowdy Oracle Arena does not promise to end well. On the second night of a back-to-back, away from home and struggling to finish the season on a strong note, Bovada and other Las Vegas sports books list the Lakers as 18-point underdogs. Monday night could get ugly and quick.

Worth pointing out that one of the Lakers' 17 wins on the season came against the Warriors. However, few expect a repeat of the Dec. 23 115-105 victory at Staples Center. On that night, the Lakers finished with seven different players scoring in double figures with Carlos Boozer leading the way with 18 points and nine rebounds. Point guard Ronnie Price finished with 17 points and eight assists, as Kobe Bryant took a night off to rest following a fatigued performance against the Sacramento Kings only two nights earlier.

Although not officially ruled out for the season, Price told NBCLA.com on Sunday night that his chances of returning this season were "slim to none."

"Slim to none" is probably an accurate way to describe the Lakers' chances on Sunday night, too. However, here are two reasons to tune in on Monday night.

First, a trio of rookies should earn a great deal of experience from facing the best team in the NBA in an intimidating arena. Jordan Clarkson facing Stephen Curry should help the Lakers' rookie point guard gain valuable experience. If Clarkson plans to play in the NBA as a point guard, Curry should be one of the premier players at the position for the next decade. Rookies Tarik Black and Jabari Brown also stand to see valuable minutes on the court.

Second, Curry is currently the favorite to win the league's Most Valuable Player award, and watching the best player in any league at the top of his game is worth the price of admission, which for most Southern Californians is a cable bill that has already been paid. Currently, Curry is ahead of the field in the MVP race with James Harden second in the conversation. With the Warriors sitting at the top of the NBA, Curry's argument carries more weight.

Tipping at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time, the Lakers face the best player and team in the NBA.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Byron Scott Talks Kobe Bryant Air-Balls]]> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 06:00:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-Byron-Scott.jpg

"I don't think about that season much," Byron Scott said on a Sunday morning, as he stood in a gym wearing Los Angeles Lakers issued shorts.

"That season" referred to the 1996-97 season. That season was also Scott's last season as an NBA player, and the way it ended was nothing short of memorable.

Against the Utah Jazz, rookie Kobe Bryant took the ball and launched up air-ball after air-ball after air-ball when the game was on the line. He infamously lost the game and the series ended with Shaquille O'Neal and Del Harris walking off the court pale faced and dumbfounded.

That infamous defeat went down as Scott's last game as an NBA player, so the current Lakers' coach had unique perspective to provide on Bryant's wild shots.

"You either grow up big time like he did or you don't--there no in between as far as I'm concerned," Scott said of Bryant's colossal failure in Utah. "Kobe was special. Even at 18 years old, you knew the kid was going to be special."

Scott explained, "First of all, he was brave enough to take the shots. He was put in that position, and he didn't fear it at all. He wanted to take the shots, and I just knew it would make him stronger--which he was, and has been ever since."

At NBCLA.com's request, Scott attempted to connect Bryant's failure as a rookie to the current Lakers' constant failures late in games:

"With [Bryant's] work ethic, I knew that was going to drive him. You hope that does the same for certain guys you have on the team. Jordan [Clarkson], I know he has that type of drive. He wants to be good."

Scott admitted drawing those parallels did not entirely come naturally. So, why not finish with one more thought on the 18-year-old Bryant shooting air-balls, then?

"Some people can handle it. Some people can't," Scott said matter-of-factly. "I knew when he missed those three. I knew he could handle it. I knew that he would be fine. It was just something that was going to drive him."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Fall to Hawks 91-86]]> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 00:06:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Jabari-Brown.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers lost 91-86 to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night at Staples Center.

Before Sunday's game started, the Hawks announced that DeMarre Carroll, Paul Milsap and Jeff Teague would all sit out to rest. While that would appear to be a boost for the Los Angeles Lakers, the home team quickly started the contest trailing 23-8 and essentially spotted the Hawks 15 points.

From there, the Lakers would rally. Not for the first time, the Lakers' bench brought them back into the game. This time, Ed Davis, Ryan Kelly and Jabari Brown fueled the comeback. Brown, who was playing in only his second ever NBA game, started 4/4 and bested his previous mark with nine points on the night.

Rookie Jordan Clarkson, who has been the primary positive in an overall negative season, started the game with an attacking mindset but failed to reap the rewards. After missing three of his first four shots and committing a couple careless turnovers in the first quarter, the point guard reentered the game in the second period with about seven and a half minutes to play in the half.

By that point, the Lakers' bench had cut the gap to only two points. Clarkson's aggression would help the point guard to a team-high eight points by halftime, and the Lakers trailed by three points at the intermission.

Worth noting, Kyle Korver suffered a broken nose and left the game in the second quarter, meaning Atlanta was without three of its four All-Stars for the entire second half. With Carroll also sitting, the Hawks technically were without four of their five starters the remainder of the way. Add in that Mike Scott was out due to an injured toe, and Atlanta was without five of its rotation players.

Even with all the aforementioned advantages provided to the Lakers, LA came out flat in the third quarter, which sounds like a broken record at this point in the season. Atlanta's only available All-Star and regular starter, Al Horford, played a major role in the vital third period. Horford would add 10 points in the quarter to take his tally to 20 points after three quarters.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the Hawks would extend their lead to 16 points. However, the Lakers would rally and cut the lead to only two points with thirty seconds to play in the game, setting up an exciting finish.

With the crowd spurring the late Lakers' rally and the young Hawks clanking shots down the stretch, 21-year-old Dennis Schroder from Germany drove to the bucket and easily extended the Hawks' advantage to four points with only 13.9 seconds to play. From there, the Hawks hit free throws, and even a late Wesley Johnson three-pointer could not save the Lakers from defeat. Schroder would finish as top scorer with 24 points in the game, including a couple clutch free throws to ice the contest.

LA dropped to 17-48 on the season, which leaves LA firmly in fourth place in the NBA lottery chase. After the game, the Lakers caught a flight to the San Francisco Bay Area, where they face the NBA best Golden State Warriors on Monday night in Oakland.

Notes: Clarkson finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Carlos Boozer and Ryan Kelly finished with 13 points apiece. The aforementioned trio of Lakers were the only players to score in double figures for the home team.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Face Hawks on Sunday]]> Sun, 15 Mar 2015 14:17:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Hawks_3-15-15.jpg

Sixty-five games into the 2014/15 season, the Atlanta Hawks have only lost 14 games. Surprisingly, the Los Angeles Lakers account for one of those 14 defeats.

Back on Nov. 18. 2014, Nick Young made his season debut and his energy, along with 17 points, helped the Lakers to a 114-109 victory. Kobe Bryant finished with 28 points on the night. For Sunday's meeting at Staples Center, neither Bryant nor Young will be available. Bryant is out for the season due to a shoulder injury, and Young will miss his 10th straight game with a sore left knee.

One player who performed well and is available for the Lakers is Jeremy Lin. Lin finished with 15 points and 10 assists in Atlanta in one of his positive early season outings. While those types of numbers were rare for the Lakers' point guard early in the season, he has been a starkly different player following the All-Star break.

In 11 games following the mid-season vacation, Lin is averaging 14.3 points, 5.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 27.2 minutes per game. On the season, Lin averages 10.9 points, 4.7 assists, and 2.6 rebounds in 25.8 minutes. Beyond simply staring at statistics, Lin has looked far more comfortable on the court lately.

"[Lin] was thinking so much back earlier in the season. Now, he's just playing," Lakers coach Byron Scott said at Sunday morning shootaround.

Scott also said he intends to move Lin back into the starting lineup for the final 10--possibly more--games to see how the player reacts to the role. For Sunday's game, though, the Lakers will stick with the same unit that started the previous game: Tarik Black, Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Jordan Clarkson.

While the Hawks may be the best team in the East and only have 14 losses on the season, Atlanta has lost two of its last four games. Not to be outdone, the Lakers have dropped six of their last seven games. Underdogs that they are, the Lakers have still managed to stay competitive during the losses with only the odd game featuring a lopsided scoreline.

LA tends to play up to the competition and so, Sunday's game could be far more competitive than most would traditionally expect from the second best team in the NBA facing the second worst team in the Western Conference.

The Lakers and Hawks tip-off at 6:30 p.m. at Staples Center. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Radio Great Passes]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 16:50:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Magic-Joe-McDonnell-passing.jpg

On Friday, news broke that Los Angeles local media icon Joe McDonnell, who thrived on the radio, had passed away. Covering local sports with a passion for decades, perhaps, the best compliment to "Big Joe" or "Big Nasty" was that both the LA Lakers and LA Dodgers acted swiftly to publicly mourn the loss.

LA Lakers president Jeanie Buss released a statement:

"For more than 35 years, Joe has been a regular at Lakers games and press events. Known for his quick wit and strong opinions, Joe's love of and support of the Lakers has always been appreciated. Over all these years, our players, coaches, and staff have enjoyed working with and knowing Joe. He will be sorely missed."

In an official team statement, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak paid the highest compliment to McDonnell by calling the journalist "knowledgeable and fair" but also "opinionated and brutally honest."

"As both player and executive, I enjoyed working with Joe since I arrived in town in 1981. I will miss seeing him at our games, practices and press conferences," Kupchak added, echoing the sentiment shared by most folks in the media and around the Los Angeles sports scene.

Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register reported that the LA Dodgers would pay a portion of the funeral costs for McDonnell's service. One would be surprised if that remaining portion would not be picked up by others who benefited from McDonnell's work.

As support poured in from people who had met, listened to or simply heard of McDonnell, he reached the top of Twitter as a trending topic.

For a man who loved LA sports in his life, it said a great deal about McDonnell that LA sports showed him love and respect on the sad news of his death.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Lose To Knicks, Scott Makes a Joke]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 14:35:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Byron-Scott-Beat-dog-Knicks.jpg

On Thursday night at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks played in a game that was best described as ugly. Considering the omnipresence of air balls, the overall quality of basketball was so horrendous that "ugly" actually sounded generous.

In the end, the Lakers lost 101-94, which meant the Lakers accounted for two of New York's 13 wins after 64 games. Not exactly miles ahead, though, the Lakers only have 17 wins after 64 games. For both these teams, winning the draft lottery is the only trophy within grasp, so in many ways, LA's 47th loss of the year was a victory. In the NBA, the worse the record, the better the odds of getting a no. 1 pick.

"This got away before the game even started," Lakers coach Byron Scott did not sound happy about the loss. "Our mindset was not where it should've been, let's put it that way."

Scott ranted and chewed up air time by talking about  problems with focus, poor shooting, lack of ball movement and overall mental failures. He used the word "soft," which was not the first time or second time he used the term. Then, the coach talked about how much he, personally, did not enjoy what was going on.

"I hate losing. I can accept it, but I hate losing," Scott said sternly into the microphone.

At this point, NBCLA.com asked the coach how he dealt with the losses, seeing as he had previously told us he no longer threw chalkboards and kicked chairs like he did when he first started coaching.

"I go home and beat the dog," Scott sent the room into laughter. "I'm just joking. Some people out here--animal activists--who might be thinking, 'he beats his dog?' I don't even have a dog."

Scott attempted to put on a straight face and said he watches game film and has simply "mellowed out" with time, but the coach's joke was the highlight of an otherwise bad day at the office for the Lakers.

The Knicks came into the contest with the worst record in the NBA, and even a win against the Lakers did not change that.

Rookies Tarik Black and Jabari Brown deserved recognition for their play. Black finished with a double-double, pulling down 11 rebounds while also scoring 10 points on 5/6 shooting. Brown, who was on a 10-day contract, made his first three shots and finished with seven points in his NBA debut.

The Lakers have Friday off and will reconvene on Saturday for practice. On Sunday, the Atlanta Hawks come to Staples Center.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Funny: Byron Scott Beats Up Non-Existent Dog]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 16:48:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ByronScottIkickmydog_1200x675_412641347781.jpg Lakers coach Byron Scott joked "I go home and beat Up the dog" when NBCLA.com asked him how he deals with losses. Filmed at Staples Center on March 12, 2015]]> <![CDATA[Fisher Back in LA: Lakers Vs. Knicks]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 03:37:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Derek-Fisher-back-Lakers.jpg

"Tough. Fierce. Competitor," Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott described first-year New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher ahead of Thursday night's game at Staples Center. "I've just always looked at him as a winner, the consummate pro. Does whatever it takes. Doesn't take any mess. One of the toughest you ever come across. Will guard you but will also knock the crap out of you."

"D-Fish is one of my favorite people," Scott added.

The Lakers' coach has a unique perspective on Fisher. Back in 1996/97, when Fisher came into the NBA as a fresh faced rookie out of the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, Scott was in his last season with the Lakers. While Scott is often asked about Kobe Bryant that season, few focus on the fact that Scott was also present for the start of Fisher's professional career.

Describing Fisher as a tough guy who plays both ends and has championships to show for it, Scott almost sounded like he was dictating his own personal bio. Since Fisher has now crossed into coaching, the parallels became even tougher to ignore.

"A little bit," Scott laughed, when NBCLA.com asked the 53-year-old if Fisher reminded him of himself. "I'm wondering if he's doing the same thing I was doing in my rookie year [as a coach], where I was throwing chalk boards all over the place and screaming and yelling and kicking chairs and all that stuff."

"I think he's a lot calmer than I was," Scott smirked. "See, he had the Zen Master here. I didn't have that calmness about me my rookie year as a coach, so I just let everything out."

Back in 2000-01, Scott's rookie season with a clipboard featured his New Jersey Nets finishing 26-56 in a season to forget. Entering Thursday night's contest at Staples Center, the New York Knicks have a 12-51 record, making them the worst team in the NBA. Playoffs have not been a thought for Fisher's Knicks, and few would blame the 40-year-old former point guard if he starting kicking chairs and throwing chalk boards at this point.

However, looking back at Scott's coaching career, Fisher can feel optimistic that the NBA landscape can change quickly. In Scott's second season on the bench, he led his New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals, where they would lose to the LA Lakers. The following season, Scott again brought the Nets to the brink of a title, but the San Antonio Spurs got the better of Scott's Nets on that occasion. For both coaches, the tale of the Nets missing the playoffs and going to the NBA Finals in back-to-back years can be a source of inspiration.

For Thursday night, though, the going nowhere Lakers and dead last Knicks place Fisher and Scott on opposite sides, but that doesn't mean Scott suddenly feels like Fisher is the enemy.

"I love Derek," Scott said. "I wish him nothing but the best except twice a year."

One of those two times is Thursday night, when the Lakers and Knicks tip off at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clarkson and Nash Working Out]]> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 18:46:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jordan-Clarkson-Nash-Lakers.jpg

"We didn't have practice," Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott said after the team let out of its Wednesday session. "We had too many guys banged up. Jeremy (Lin) couldn't practice today. He had a thigh contusion. Wesley (Johnson) got kicked in the calf last night, so he couldn't really go today."

Instead, the Lakers spent the day getting up shots after the team took its annual team photo. This year, everyone showed up, save for Steve Nash, who did not appear in a single regular season game.

Following a victory against the Detroit Pistons, a day to get shots up and heal did not sound like an altogether terrible idea. Snapping a five-game losing streak brought smiles to faces and a lighthearted atmosphere in the locker room.

"Yea, probably," Lin answered when asked if he expected to play on Thursday night against the New York Knicks. He quickly added, "Unless something crazy happens overnight."

New signing Jabari Brown also expects to earn time against New York. Brown is on a 10-day contract and should provide an added scoring punch off the bench with Nick Young still sitting out with a sore left knee. Although Scott would prefer to get Brown a practice session before throwing him onto the court, the Lakers' coach said the player had been schooled on schemes on Tuesday, so he will be afforded a chance to shine on Thursday.

"I just told him, 'Just stay in the gym. Keep getting work in because you never know when your name is called, and you got to be ready to produce when you're called on,'" standout Lakers' rookie Jordan Clarkson shared the advice he gave Brown, his former college roommate.

For Clarkson, the light Wednesday session led in perfectly to his night meeting with Steve Nash, or "Professor Steve," as the rookie called him on Tuesday night. Around the time Kobe Bryant's torn rotator cuff was being discovered, Clarkson and Nash were arranging their first private sessions of the season.

Nash reached out to Clarkson, but Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak had planted the seeds and watered the flowers over monthly breakfast meetings. To be fair, the rookie spent time working out with Nash before the season, so the idea of the pair of point guards working together did not exactly turn up mid-season. In a perfect world, Clarkson would probably have been watching Nash operate for the first half of the season before stepping onto the court. Everything considered, no one is complaining about Clarkson's development these days.

"I worked out with Steve (Nash) for a week, week and a half, here at the facility," Clarkson said the point guard duo did late off-season work prior to the start of training camp. 

The regular seasons sessions, however, had been more film oriented with one memorably intense physical workout over the All-Star break.

Between the rookie point guard getting in-game advice from Kobe Bryant on the bench and off-day individual tips from Nash, Clarkson could not help but marvel at his unique opportunities in only his first year in the NBA: "It's just a blessing. You couldn't write a book better than the one I got right now. I'm happy to be here with this organization."

Asked how that book would end, the 22-year-old Clarkson laughed and said, "Who knows? We'll see."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Shares Mental Struggle]]> Thu, 12 Mar 2015 06:47:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-Lakers-3-10-15.jpg

"It's not like I was playing too many minutes or whatever the case it may be. The shoulder injury has been there for a long long time. It's tough to gauge," Kobe Bryant sat at a podium facing the LA media for the first time since an examination revealed a torn rotator cuff. There, Bryant's season ended.

He had gone on a movie promotion tour and met with media outlets, but he had generally stayed away from the local LA media that he knew far too well. With Lakers coach Byron Scott summoning the injured superstar to all remaining home games, Bryant chose to have a chat.

So, going back for a moment, how long ago exactly did Bryant hurt his shoulder?

"Judging by the pain, I've had that same pain in my shoulder since 2001," Bryant answered the question. "It's been there for a while. I went in and had a procedure on my shoulder in 2002 and 2003, and it's been bothering me for a long long time."

According to Bryant, he believes he had a torn rotator cuff on Jan. 22, 2006. That night, Bryant scored 81 points, apparently, with a bum shoulder. While the thought may sound unreasonable at first, considering Bryant played seasons (plural) with a broken finger points to the type of mind over matter mentality the five-time champion played with for the majority of his embattled career. That type of repeated physical pressure forced the 36-year-old to finish the last three seasons of his career prematurely.

"I can play 10 minutes and hurt some other sh--," Bryant laughed at how brittle his career had become. "At this stage, all I can do is do whatever I can to be as healthy as possible. If something is going to go, it goes. Then Father Time got me. There's nothing else I can do about it."

Notoriously known for being a control freak, Bryant had not entirely given up the steering wheel. He may have accepted destiny, but he surely didn't sound like he was welcoming it. Over three seasons, he had been hit with three major unforeseen injuries. If the trend continued and a fourth one struck, his career would likely be over. The naysayers would have been right.

"It's very difficult," Bryant continued. "You start trying to gauge the importance of a Monday workout or Wednesday workout. How important is it? I could do all this stuff and then next year in one minute, it's all gone. Those are the challenges I have to struggle with mentally and not try to over think that. Just go out there and do it."

Then, Bryant repeated the mantra that served as a guide in these past few years of injury and bad luck: "Just control what you can control."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Motor Past Pistons]]> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 08:32:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-Jordan-Clarkson_Lakers.jpg

Rookie Jordan Clarkson set a new career-high in assists and got specialized coaching from Kobe Bryant as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Detroit Pistons 95-83 on Tuesday night at Staples Center to snap a five-game losing streak.

Bryant met with the media for over 10 minutes prior to the game. He touched on several topics including his recovery and his future with the team, as Tuesday night marked Bryant's first interview with the LA media since being ruled out for the season due to a torn rotator cuff.

"I think I'm supposed to be allowed to run in a week and a half or two weeks, something like that," Bryant reported his progress. "As far as shooting, I don't know--probably a month or so."

While Bryant provided a great deal of quotes and answered a laundry list of questions, he placed his support behind the Lakers' organization and continued to say he did not plan on playing past 2015-16. However, the 36-year-old, who turns 37 before the start of the next season, refused to rule out the possibility of playing a 21st season. Bryant has been publicly consistent in these stances, so nothing new to report on that front.

Back to Tuesday's game, Bryant sat on the Lakers' bench and continued work with Clarkson during games. In the Lakers' loss on Sunday, the injured guard took a moment to provide the rookie with technical advice with his words. 

On Tuesday night, Bryant took that action a step further when he picked up a clipboard and began working with the rookie on the sideline. Related or not, Clarkson had one of the best games of his young career and set a new personal best in assists with eight.

"I almost got in trouble one time," Clarkson joked that Bryant's coaching made him forget he had to run the Lakers' offense.

The 22-year-old point guard stole the show in the first half and started with six points, seven assists and two rebounds before the intermission. He would end at eight assists and only one turnover for the game, but the point guard only played 10 minutes in the second half.

In a balanced outing, no Lakers' player finished with more than 13 points and all five starters scored in double figures. Clarkson likely would have earned his first career double-double, but he found himself sitting on the bench late in the game as Jeremy Lin found a good groove in the second half. In all, seven Lakers scored 10 or more points in the game.

Lin scored 12 points and passed off four assists in the second half after going into the break scoreless without attempting a single shot. In the second half, the point guard found the aggression that had been lacking early on.

For Detroit, Greg Monroe finished with 24 points and nine rebounds, while fellow big man Andre Drummond pulled down the game's only double-double with 14 points and 21 rebounds.

The Lakers moved to 17-46 on the the season, but the night would still mark the Lakers' official elimination from the playoffs due to New Orleans beating Brooklyn elsewhere. Even if the Lakers win every game for the remainder of the season, they cannot mathematically qualify for the postseason. This is the earliest elimination from the playoffs in the history of the LA Lakers.

Next, the Lakers host the New York Knicks on Thursday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Talks Injury, Rehab and Future]]> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 21:26:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/KobeBryantshoulderinjury31015_1200x675_411399235785.jpg On March 10, 2015, Kobe Bryant talked with the LA media for the first time following a season-ending shoulder surgery, and Bryant talked about recovery and his future.]]> <![CDATA[Lakers Sign Jabari Brown]]> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 12:46:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jabari-Brown-10-day_Lakers.jpg

Entering Tuesday night's game against the Detroit Pistons, the Los Angeles Lakers only had 10 healthy bodies available to play. Of those 10 bodies, only three qualified as guards. As such, the Lakers signed guard Jabari Brown to a 10-day contract, the team announced late Tuesday morning. 

Brown was an undrafted rookie at the Lakers' training camp and a college teammate of rookie sensation Jordan Clarkson. In college, Brown actually averaged more points than Clarkson. Brown averaged 19.9 points on 46.7 percent shooting in his final season at Missouri compared to Clarkson's 17.5 points per game on 44.8 percent shooting.

After going through Byron Scott's tough training camp and featuring in preseason, Brown did not make the Lakers' regular season squad. Staying close to the Lakers, the 22-year-old signed on with the Lakers' NBA Development League affiliate, the LA D-Fenders. With the D-Fenders, Brown averaged 24.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 39 games. Known as a scorer, Brown put up 50 points earlier in the season and also claimed the honor of being a 2015 D-League All-Star.

With Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Julius Randle ruled out for the season, the Lakers only had 12 active roster spots. Point guard Ronnie Price may also be out for the remainder of the season after undergoing elbow surgery, so the Lakers truly only had 11 spots. Recently the NBA granted an exception for the Lakers to add a 16th player to the roster, which allowed for the Lakers to sign Brown on a 10-day contract. 

With Brown playing well in the D-League and Nick Young out due to a sore knee, the timing of the 10-day contract should not be surprise.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Season: T-Minus 20 Games]]> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 03:54:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-hit-road-Charlotte.jpg

Sixty-two games into the 82-game 2014-15 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers have accumulated only 16 wins to go along with 46 losses. For the LA Lakers, the good news and the bad news reads the same: 20 more games to go.

On yet another losing streak--the Lakers enter Tuesday's game against the Detroit Pistons on a five-game losing skid--the Lakers have experienced far more losing than winning. However, the Lakers still have games against several teams hovering at or neat the bottom of the league. With two games against Philadelphia, a couple of contests against the Minnesota Timberwolves, a pair of games against the Sacramento Kings and a visit from the New York Knicks still on the calendar, the Lakers may yet go on to avoid the worst mark in franchise history.

While Mike D'Antoni may have set the dubious record for the worst season by the Los Angeles Lakers with 27 wins and 55 losses, the Minneapolis Lakers once had a season where they won 19 out of 72 games. Entering Tuesday's game, the 2014/15 Lakers have a winning percentage of 25.8 percent. The 1957/58 Minneapolis Lakers won 26.4 percent of their games, so the modern day Lakers are on their way to being the worst team in the storied history of the 16-time NBA champions.

Laying claim to five of those championships, Kobe Bryant expects to be watching this group of Lakers stumble to the finish line from the bench. According to Lakers coach Byron Scott, Bryant will be present for all remaining home games. Counting the Clippers "away" game, Bryant expects to attend 12 of the remaining 20 games in the season.

While Bryant will not be traveling with the team, rookie Julius Randle will hit the road for the first time in his young professional career. On Monday, Randle was cleared to perform on-court basketball work without contact. With only 20 games to go, Randle will not be back this season, and the injured rookie's slow and stable recovery making news at this point points to eyes already focusing on next season.

After all, the 2014/15 Lakers are on the doorstep of being officially eliminated from the postseason. If the Lakers lose to the Pistons, Oklahoma City and New Orleans can both lose out and still finish with 47 losses. If the Lakers miraculously win out after losing to Detroit, the tiebreaker for the final playoff spot would be based on head-to-head record. Not surprisingly, the Lakers have already lost their season series against both teams in contention, so, the Lakers can officially start planning early May getaways.

Spoiler Alert: the Lakers are not about to win out, and the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans should easily win at least one more game before the end. Official or not, the Lakers have been out of contention for the playoffs for about 20 games now. A few "I told you so" types would probably say the Lakers fell out of contention at the start of training came. Starting the season 1-9 certainly didn't help convince the critics.

In any case, the Lakers have hit the thee-quarter pole, and the chance to win the race is long gone. The team would need to finish 11-9 to tie the 2013/14 D'Antoni Lakers for the worst mark in the history of the LA Lakers. Based on the 62-game sample, once can safely say the 2014/15 Lakers will finish as the worst team in LA Lakers history. 

In order to avoid finishing as the worst team in Lakers' history--Minneapolis and Los Angeles--the 2014/15 Lakers will need to finish the season 6-14.  While it may not be a slam dunk, six wins in 20 games seems possible. The Lakers will strive to reach the modest goal of not being the worst team in franchise history when they take on the Detroit Pistons at Staples Center on Tuesday night. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Julius Randle Back on the Court]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 14:27:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Julius-Randle-cleared.jpg

On Monday, Los Angeles Lakers rookie Julius Randle was cleared for weight-bearing on-court basketball activity, the team announced. However, the rookie, who broke his leg in his first game as a professional, has still not been cleared for contact.

"This is about right (on schedule)," Lakers coach Byron Scott said about Randle's recovery. "This is only in preparation for getting him ready for Summer League. So, like I said, we'll try to amp it up a little bit, and by June, he should be running up and down the court getting a lot of work there and be ready for Summer League."

A night earlier, Scott had hinted at the rookie's progress when he revealed Randle would be travelling on road trips for the remainder of the season. When NBCLA.com asked Scott if there was any possibility Randle would be on the court at any point this season, Scott firmly answered, "No."

After breaking his leg on Opening Night, Randle would later have surgery on his foot to correct an issue that had lingered since his high school days.

"It was a little tough, because, you go with the leg and you start making progress on that and you feel like you have a setback because you have to have surgery on your foot," Randle said on Monday. "It was tough, but when I'm out here now, I don't think about it. I don't feel it."

Randle would reconfirm that he did not feel any discomfort in his leg: "No pain, no soreness, no nothing."

The rookie said he had grown frustrated with the elliptical and said "I hate that Alter-G" at one point in his time with the press. He also admitted that he had a long way to go as even simple non-contact drills had him winded. However, his spirits seemed high, and talk of going to early morning summer workouts with Kobe Bryant put a smile on the 20-year-old's fresh face.

"I definitely look forward to it," Randle said about the prospect of working with Bryant. "There's a lot of stuff he can teach me as far as footwork. He did last summer, and I was looking forward to carrying it into this season. It was unfortunate I couldn't."

While Randle may not appear in the final 20 games of the 2014/15 Lakers' season, hearing positive news on his progress is still a massive boost to the team and to the future of the Lakers.

Notes: Carlos Boozer missed Monday's practice with a mild left ankle sprain. He is still considered "probable" for Tuesday's game against Detroit.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Julius Randle On the Lakers' Practice Court]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 14:09:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/JuliusRandleclearedpractice3915_1200x675_410512451655.jpg Lakers rookie Julius Randle is back on the Lakers practice court and talked about the progress he's making after a broken leg and ankle surgery on Mar. 9, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Kobe Coming to Lakers Games]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 00:20:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LakersKobeBryantonbench_1200x675_410175555714.jpg Lakers coach Byron Scott and rookie point guard talked about having injured guard Kobe Bryant on the LA bench on March 8, 2015 at Staples Center.]]> <![CDATA[Lakers Lose 100-93, Kobe Attends]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 01:32:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lakers-lose-Mavs.jpg

"Same old story," Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott lamented after Sunday's 100-93 defeat to the Dallas Mavericks. "They turned it up a notch on the defensive end. We turned it over a bunch of times. Every shot that we had was under duress. We didn't move the ball as well as we did earlier in the game."

From the start of the second half until 4:39 left in the game, the Lakers led the Mavericks. However, the Lakers' late collapse had as much to do with the home team as it did with the visitors. The Lakers took a six-point lead with 6:35 to play. From that point forward, the Lakers would be outscored 16-3 in an incredible collapse that had fans rushing for the exits.

Wearing all black and sitting on the Lakers' bench, Kobe Bryant came to Staples Center and took a seat on the Lakers' bench. By the time the game ended, his solemn expression matched the looks of fans as they streamed out to Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles.

"It's just good to see him out here and good to see him with his teammates," Scott said he asked Bryant to be at all remaining home games. "He's in their ear during timeout and things like that, so I think that's valuable."

One player Bryant specifically targeted was rookie Jordan Clarkson. The Lakers' social media accounts recorded Bryant providing the rookie pointers during a timeout, and Clarkson confirmed that Bryant's presence helped him on a technical level. Speaking of which, Clarkson also told NBCLA.com that he plans to meet with Steve Nash soon. The future Hall-of-Fame point guard has been periodically providing the Lakers' rookie with specialized one-on-one sessions.

Back to Sunday's loss, turnovers, largely, shouldered blame for the defeat. The Lakers committed eight turnovers in the deciding fourth quarter. For comparison's sake, LA had only committed eight turnovers through the first three periods.

Also, Monta Ellis scored 26 of his game-high 31 points in the second half. With Rajon Rondo delivering nine assists and Al-Farouq Aminu collecting six steals and three blocks, the Mavericks put together a balanced victory even if no one other than Ellis scored over 13 points for the visitors.

Starting a new lineup on Sunday, Scott brought rookie Tarik Black into the mix, and the 23-year-old finished with six points and five rebounds in 26 minutes. The other rookie, Clarkson, struggled at the finish but still managed 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals. For the near future, the Lakers will look to develop both players with playing time.

With the new rotations, Ed Davis only featured for 19 minutes, but the productive forward still managed 10 points, eight rebounds, two assists and three block shots. Veteran Carlos Boozer finished as the team's top scorer with 17 points and eight rebounds, as he moved to the bench to make way for Black. Wesley Johnson replaced Ryan Kelly in the starting lineup, and Johnson continued his recent positive play with 15 points on 6/9 shooting. 

Next, the Lakers face the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night. Tip-off at Staples Center is at 7:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Host Mavericks on Sunday]]> Sun, 08 Mar 2015 11:55:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lakers-mavericks-3-8-15.jpg

Game Notes:

At Sunday's morning shootaround, Lakers coach Byron Scott announced that Nick Young will be out for the Sunday game and may be out as long as another "week or two or three" due to slow healing. Scott said the 29-year-old still has pain in his knee, but the swelling has been improving at a slow rate. Also, the Lakers will roll out a new starting lineup with Jordan Clarkson, Wayne Ellington, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Hill and Tarik Black taking the court Sunday night. Scott said he would likely stick with them for about 10 games.

Lakers versus Mavericks: Preview

In the early hours of Saturday Morning, the Los Angeles Lakers landed in LA after a challenging three-game road trip that featured the Lakers playing in three different cities in only four nights. After getting the day off to rest, the Lakers congregated on Sunday morning and assessed the healthy bodies available for Sunday evening.

The Dallas Mavericks are in town to help welcome the purple and gold back home, but the Mavericks have already beaten the Lakers twice in two meetings this season. Both those games took place in Texas, however, and Dallas has dropped four of its last five games.

For the Mavericks, Sunday's game at Staples Center is the dessert in a hard-to-digest meal of a Western Conference road trip. On Thursday, the Mavericks lost big in Portland and Friday featured another lopsided defeat in Oakland. On Sunday, Dirk Nowitzki and company look to get the train back on its tracks against the lowly Lakers.

Dallas is struggling, and the Mavs face the Cleveland Cavaliers, LA Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder immediately after the Lakers. In other words, Dallas will look to win the easy game on Sunday and avoid potentially falling into a serious losing funk.

The Lakers, who continue to firmly hold onto the fourth worst record in the NBA, have lost four games in a row. Despite positive play from rookie Jordan Clarkson and backup point guard Jeremy Lin, the Lakers have struggled to finish games and claim victories -- to the delight of a strong contingent of fans eyeing the NBA's draft lottery.

While social media and the internet may be cheering every missed shot, fans in the stands have continued to support their team on the court. When the Lakers won their last two home games to end February, Staples Center applauded at both of the final buzzers and joyous supporters celebrated with free tacos against the Milwaukee Bucks. Even celebrities like Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Harrison Ford and Floyd Mayweather haven't stopped coming to games and sit courtside despite the Lakers' struggles. 

On Sunday, the stars should again be in attendance, and the Lakers will host the Mavericks at Staples Center for game no. 62 on the season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Grizzles Edge Lakers, Clarkson Sharp]]> Sat, 07 Mar 2015 17:59:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jordan-Clarkson-Lakers.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers entered the FedEx Forum on Friday night widely expected to end their three-game road trip with a third straight road loss. Well, the Lakers did eventually lose to the Memphis Grizzlies, but a career night for rookie Jordan Clarkson made it an interesting contest that saw the second-best team in the Western Conference narrowly edge the second-worst team in the Western Conference by a final score of 97-90.

Throughout the night, fans and players could not help by marvel at how solid the Lakers' 22-year-old rookie point guard looked on the court. In a bizarre start, Clarkson led the Lakers with 10 points in the first quarter, but none of his fellow starters could even muster a single point. By halftime, the rookie already had 17 points and looked certain to best his previous career-high of 22 points, which came only nine days earlier in an away game against the Utah Jazz.

"I think Jordan [Clarkson] is just progressing very nicely," Lakers coach Byron Scott said on Time Warner Cable SportsNet after the game. "I think there is a whole lot left in that young man."

Eventually, Clarkson would finish with 25 points, six assists and four rebounds, which continued to make experts and analysts wonder how the Lakers found this kid unclaimed deep in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft.

Back to Friday's game, the Lakers' bench came in and provided a necessary jolt after the starting unit lacked balance. At the halftime buzzer, the Lakers led by three points with the reserves scoring 25 of the visitor's 46 points.

The Grizzlies earned an unexpected offensive contribution from Tony Allen early, as the defensive specialist scored 12 points in the first half, but Allen would regress to the mean and finished with 15 points for the game. By his usual standards, Grizzlies center Marc Gasol had an altogether unimpressive outing. The Spaniard finished with 18 points and six rebounds, but eight of those points came at the charity stripe.

With Gasol slightly off the pace, Zach Randolph took charge. The Grizzlies' big man finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds in 37 strong minutes.

All that said, the Lakers and Grizzlies were tied at 87-87 with 1:36 to play in the game. Down the final straightaway, the Lakers would score only three points and the Grizzlies would score 10 points. To simplify the situation, performance at the end of the game is the difference between a good team and a bad team. As such, Memphis won for the 44th time this season, and the Lakers lost for the 46th during the 2014/15 season.

Next, the Lakers return home to play the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers at Grizzlies: Preview]]> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 03:07:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Wesley-Johnson.jpg

On Friday evening, the Los Angeles Lakers face the longest odds they've seen in some time.

The Memphis Grizzlies have only lost seven games at home all season, and their 43-17 record has the Tennessee team in the second spot with 22 games left on the calendar. On the road and playing in the third different city in four nights would be bad enough on its own, but the Lakers have also only been dressing 10 players for the past few games. Short on bodies and short on talent, the 16-win Lakers would have trouble beating the Grizzlies on a neural court with a full stable of healthy players.

Nick Young's  status is listed as "questionable" entering the contest, but most around the team do not expect the crossover celebrity back until Sunday, at the earliest. The backup shooting guard/small forward is suffering with a sore left knee and has missed five games entering Friday evening.

Distributing Young's minutes, Lakers coach Byron Scott has relied on a three-guard rotation that showcases Wayne Ellington, Jeremy Lin and Jordan Clarkson. With Young out, the heaviest load has fallen on Ellington's shoulders, as the 27-year-old is averaging 37.6 minutes per game over the past five games. The former North Carlona Tar Heel is averaging 12.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists since Young last played in a game.

Point guards Lin and Clarkson have helped share the load by taking turns playing off the ball, but the duo has been called upon to play more since Ronnie Price went down with an elbow injury that should keep the veteran point guard out for the year. In the five games since Price last stepped on the court, Clarkson is averaging 31.8 minutes compared and Lin is averaging 28.8 minutes per game.

Over the handful of games without Price, Clarkson is averaging 15.8 points with Lin close behind at 15.4 points per game. Since the start of March, Lin has hit a new level of consistency he had never before displayed wearing purple and gold. The 26-year-old is averaging 18.3 points, 8.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds three games into the penultimate month of the season. Playing for a contract, the Lakers' loss of health looks like it may result in financial gain for Lin.

For 22-year-old Clarkson, who is a rookie, the strides he has made have been impressive, but kid born in Tampa, Florida set a new career mark with a four-turnover game against the Miami Heat on Wednesday. Since starting his first game on Jan. 23, Clarkson is averaging 13.8 points, 3.9 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 29.8 minutes per game. In Memphis, the rookie will likely make his 18th consecutive start.

On Friday evening, going against both Lin and Clarkson is one of the most under-rated point guards in the NBA. Mike Conley quietly averages 16.4 points, 5.3 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals on a team that has championship hopes. The 27-year-old out of Ohio State University is shooting 39.2 percent from beyond the three-point line and 44.7 percent over all.

While Conley shines on the perimeter, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol give shiners in the painted area. The Grizzlies' strength is, well, strength. Randolph continues to perform at age 33, while the younger Marc Gasol recently celebrated his 30th birthday.

Into his seventh year with the Grizzlies, Gasol is averaging 18.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 33.9 minutes per game. The All-Star center is widely regarded as the most complete player at his position on the planet.

While the Grizzlies may be heavily favored, the Lakers and Grizzlies still have to play the game. Tip-off is at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Miami Heat Burns Lakers 100-94]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 21:42:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jeremy-Lin.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers played their 60th game and collected their 44th loss of the 2014/15 season on Wednesday night in Miami.

Jeremy Lin put in another noteworthy performance, but Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside stole the show with 25 rebounds in the 100-94 win for Miami.

The Lakers started the games strong with usual suspects Wayne Ellington, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Clarkson combining for 18 points in the first quarter. When Lin entered the game, he quickly stamped his mark on the contest with five points and six assists before the halftime intermission.

At the halfway mark, Boozer and Ellington led all scorers with 12 points apiece. Heat forward Luol Deng led the home team with 11 points, but Whiteside had already started to disrupt the Lakers' shots and control the boards.

At the break, Whiteside already had nine points and eight rebounds. At the final buzzer, the towering center would walk off the court with 18 points, 25 rebounds and four block shots. As a team, the Lakers finished with only one block shot on the night.

"Well, you got one guy that out-rebounded all our bigs," Lakers coach Byron Scott said after the game on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. "I think that says enough."

Dwyane Wade may not be the same player he was five years ago, but he still finished with a game-high 25 points to go along with six assists. The Lakers shared the ball and finished with seven players scoring in double figures. No coincidence, all four bench players scored at least 10 points, as Lin continued to dish with precision and set up teammates.

On Wednesday, Lin continued to look comfortable wearing purple and gold. The 26-year-old entered the contest averaging 18.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists over his past six games, and the backup point guard finished Wednesday's game with 12 points and nine assists. He also added four steals to the box score.

In terms of game-flow, the Lakers and Heat went back and forth throughout the night. Leading by five points at the half, LA predictably came out slow in the third quarter and fell behind by 10 points. After a Lin-inspired rally (it took real effort not to use "Linspired"), the Lakers and Heat had a tie ball game with just under 11 minutes to play.

In the deciding quarter, the Lakers took hold of a slim lead early in the period and held on until Heat point guard Goran Dragic hit a three-pointer with 3:30 remaining to give Miami a 90-88 lead. From that point forward, the Lakers never tied or led the game again. Clarkson had an open look at a three-pointer to tie the game with 16.9 seconds to play. The shot did not fall, and the Lakers lost. 

Next, the LA Lakers travel to Tennessee and play the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday evening at 5 p.m. PT.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Face Miami Heat on Wednesday]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 21:46:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Heat.jpg

Even with Chris Bosh ruled out for the season, Goran Dragic and the Miami Heat hope to make the NBA Playoffs in a tight race that has the seventh-place Heat only ahead of eighth-place Brooklyn and ninth-place Charlotte by half a game. Indiana is also lurking only one game back of Miami, as the last two postseason spots in the Eastern Conference are up for grabs.

The Los Angeles Lakers pay Miami their annual respects with a visit to South Beach on Wednesday evening. After losing to the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night, the Lakers have already hurt the Heat's playoff chances, and a win in Miami would only further strike a blow to the Heat.

The Lakers, however, continue to toil and battle injuries in their modest quest to complete 82 games. Nick Young is the latest casualty, as LA's sixth man has missed four straight games with a sore left knee and does not expect to be available on Wednesday.

The Lakers are already without Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Julius Randle and Ronnie Price for the season, so Young's injury will likely keep the Lakers at only 10 healthy bodies on Wednesday evening. Of those 10 bodies, however, two players in particular have been stepping up recently.

Jeremy Lin's post-All-Star break sample size continues to grow, and the point guard continues to improve. After his 23-point, eight-assist and six-rebound performance in Charlotte, Lin is up to averaging 18.0 points, 5.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 28.2 minutes over his last six games. Even with three costly turnovers down the stretch in Charlotte, Lin is only averaging 1.0 turnover per game since the NBA's mid-season vacation. Added to all that, the Lakers' point guard is shooting 51.3 percent from the field over this inspired stretch of play.

The other Lakers' point guard, rookie Jordan Clarkson, is also turning heads as he continues to adjust to life in the NBA. Entering Wednesday's contest, Clarkson has started 16 games. In 12 of those 16 games, Clarkson hit double digits in scoring. Overall, the 22-year-old rookie has averaged 14.0 points, 3.8 assists and 3.1 rebounds in 29.9 minutes per game as a starter. Clarkson's 1.7 turnovers per game as a starter are especially rare considering the frequency with which he attacks the rim.

In those 16 games, Clarkson shot a healthy 44.7 percent from the field and often looked like the Lakers' best player. For a second round pick who sat for the majority of the first half of the season, Clarkson's rapid growth should have fans in LA excited.

On Wednesday, Clarkson and Lin will face one of the NBA's premier point guards in Dragic. In his six games since joining the Heat, Dragic is averaging 15.0 points, 4.7 assists and 3.2 rebounds, and Miami has won three of the six games since Dragic started playing.

For the Heat's newly acquired point guard, the Lakers are familiar foes. With Phoenix, Dragic already led the Suns to four wins over LA this season. In those four wins, the Slovenian averaged 20.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists. On Wednesday, Dragic looks for his fifth victory over the Lakers in this 2014/15 NBA season.

Dragic, Lin and Clarkson will take the floor of the American Airlines Arena at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Notes: The Miami Heat will wear "El Heat" jerseys in celebration of Latin Night in the NBA.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hornets Swarm Lakers 104-103]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:05:26 -0700 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 14:39:08 -0700 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 11:25:23 -0700 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 21:42:26 -0700 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 15:59:16 -0700 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]]>