<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Triple Threat]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/blogs/triple-threat http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:14:30 -0800 Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:14:30 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Kobe Practices, Julius Randle Off Crutches]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:53:54 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-practice-Bryant-Randle_12-17-14.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers practiced on Wednesday morning at their facility in El Segundo, Ca. The big news of the day was that Kobe Bryant practiced and that Julius Randle was no longer using crutches.

Lakers coach Byron Scott said the Lakers had a "spirited" session that was "light" in nature. The coach cut the practice short because he liked what he saw from the guys.

"I probably won't have (Bryant) do the full practice tomorrow," Scott said he expected Bryant to take part in Thursday's practice, as well. "(There) seems to be a little more of a pep in his step. Maybe he's get a second wind. I think we all still tend to forget he hasn't really played in a year and a half."

Lakers guard Nick Young said having Bryant back practicing made it a "little rougher."

Away from the court, Lakers rookie Randle also found a minute to talk to the media on Wednesday.

"I'm off crutches, walking around, just trying to get the strength back in my leg," Randle said. "The doctor said, 'go at your own pace.' My pace is to get rid of (the crutches) immediately."

Randle said he missed the competitiveness and brotherhood of battling with his teammates, but he was spending time on the sidelines learning.

Back on the court, the Lakers had won two of the three games on their recent road trip. The coach was asked what he learned from his team on the recent adventures:

"I learned, especially in the last game, that we have a little more heart than we did a couple weeks ago. Guys took that pretty hard that we didn't play the way we're playing of capable of playing the game against Indiana" Scott Said.

The Lakers will practice on Thursday before playing the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night at Staples Center.

]]>
<![CDATA[LA Lakers After 25 Games: Kobe and Byron]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 03:27:56 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-kobe-bryant-byron-scott-25.jpg

The Lakers have played 25 games of a season that is irritatingly difficult to define: Is this the season of Byron Scott taking over the Los Angeles Lakers? Is this the season of Kobe Bryant return? Is it the season of Bryant's decline due to age? Is this a season to "tank?"

At the moment, this season has no identity on or off the court.

Starting with the last question first, the Lakers aren't built to "tank" nearly at the level that would be required to help the team. They need to need to finish with a top-five draft selection in the 2015 NBA draft, or the Phoenix Suns will claim the first round pick as part of the failed Steve Nash trade, as just about everyone should know by now.

[Pause for fans to rant and scream about Nash]

At the moment, the Lakers are tied with the Indiana Pacers for the eighth worst record in the NBA, and the purple and gold appear to be making progress on the court. Even if it's not championship level progress, ownership and management have been boisterous in publicly trashing the thought of "tanking" a season.

With the way the Lakers are trending, the NBA Draft lottery is probably the Lakers' best hope of getting a first round pick in 2015. As every financial adviser will tell you, winning the lottery is no way to plan for the future.

One last point on "tanking," the Lakers have won three of their last four games, so the notion that this team is actively trying to lose is pure fiction. Constantly talking about "tanking" is, frankly, a waste of time with this organization. The Lakers aren't going to do it. They didn't do it last year when Bryant was out for the season, so why would they possibly do it when he is out there standing on the court with smoke pouring out of his nostrils?

Since this will not be a season of "tanking," it is probably better defined as the season of Scott meshing with Bryant. The coach of the Lakers got off to a difficult 1-9 start but has won three of his last four games. Still, he's only won eight of 25 games, and often, the Lakers have often looked atrocious.

Still, Scott's biggest criticism as Lakers coach has been his (over)use of Bryant, whom is an aging superstar coming off nearly a full season on the sidelines.

Dealing with injuries and a hodgepodge roster of largely expendable talent, Scott has been playing his 36-year-old superstar for 35.4 minutes per game with the hopes to simply compete. To this point, however, Scott has not pushed to reduce Bryant's time on the court, and Bryant ranks 15th in minutes per game. He also ranks 16 in total distance run, 56.6 miles. In gross, Bryant is second in the NBA in total time on the court, 885 minutes.

Obviously, Bryant has been complicit--if not overbearingly forceful--in the matter. After all, he is the Lakers' best chance on offense whether he is passing or shooting. Bryant leads the team in points and assists, along with minutes.

As coach, Scott has not simply acted as a idle stooge. After 20 games, the coach took steps to adjust his starting lineup. Scott had hinted changes were on the horizon, and the massacre in Boston left the ex-Lakers player no choice. Since the lineup changes, the Lakers are 3-2. The Lakers' first unit has improved its defense, and the second unit has been packing more of a punch off the bench.

With regards to Bryant, Scott adjusted to give Bryant more time off from practices. Unless the Lakers have a prolonged stretch of three or more days off in between games, Scott began to keep the Lakers' living legend away from scrimmaging or even shooting on off days. Even on game days, Scott often told Bryant to skip the shootarounds. When the game was in Los Angeles, Bryant stayed home. When the game was on the road, Bryant stayed in his room.

Often, Bryant will talk about the "round the clock" or "24-hour" treatment he requires to be ready for games. Practice? No, he's not talking about practice.

In games, however, Bryant has been worked to the bone. Often visibly and vocally fatigued in the locker room after a contest, Bryant has only failed to cross the 30-minute threshold twice in 25 games, which were the first two games of the season. One week into the season, Bryant played 44 out of 48 minutes in a game the Lakers still lost by six to the Phoenix Suns.

At some point between now and the end of Bryant's career, the game minutes will need to be lessened and the load will need to be lightened. Scott should be present when that time comes, and the only question is whether that transition occurs this season or next.

A glimpse into the reduced role for Bryant this season could help the Lakers land a marquee name over the summer. Seeing Bryant playing fewer minutes, performing more efficiently down the stretch and preserving his body offers a far more attractive future than the alternative.

Soon enough, there will be a casting call to fill the lead role on the Lakers. Luckily, this town specializes in filling roles and creating stars.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pacers Pound Lakers in Indiana]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 21:12:52 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-lose-to-Pacers.jpg

A night after making history in a good way, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers nearly made history in a bad way.

Monday's game against the Indiana Pacers was over before it started. The Lakers had brought their bodies to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, but their mental focus on both ends of the floor was waiting on the plane back to Los Angeles.

LA was bad to start the game, and that's probably the nicest way to put it. The Lakers managed more points from the foul line than they did from the field in the first quarter. Had a late flurry of free throws not helped the visitors to 15 points for the quarter, the Lakers looked on their way to setting a new mark for the worst quarter of the season.

In the opening 12 minutes, the Lakers shot 15 percent from the field as a team. Only three players even made a basket. Matching to the putrid offense, the Lakers failed defensively. After one quarter, the Lakers had already allowed 34 points and trailed by 19 points. The Lakers did not even have 19 points on the scoreboard at that point.

Incomprehensibly, the second quarter was worse.

The Lakers fell behind by 39 points during that shocking second period. With a minute to go in the first half, the Lakers had only scored 21 points and allowed 60 points to a Pacers' team that had lost its previous eight games. If the Lakers had continued on that trend, they would have set the franchise record for fewest points in a half (23 points set in 2009). Instead, Bryant hit a three-pointer late in the half to avoid making history for the second night in a row.

Wesley Johnson would add a three-pointer before the halftime buzzer, and the Lakers would enter the locker room trailing 60-27. Prior to Bryant and Johnson hitting their shots, the Lakers were shooting 12 percent from the field. Even after two baskets, the Lakers shot a lowly 17 percent for the quarter and depressing 16 percent for the half.

The game was no longer a contest by the time the teams came back on the court for the second half.

Bryant had been as guilty as his teammates on both end of the floor in the painfully long first 24 minutes. In the first half, Bryant made three of 13 shots for seven points and recorded only one assist. Only three other Lakers even had a field goal to their names, so there was plenty of blame pie for all to share.

In the third period, the ultra-competitive 36-year-old attempted to give his team life by attacking the basket. Bryant would score 14 points in that quarter and add two steals and two assists to help guide the Lakers to 31 points over a 12-minute span. They played a normal quarter, and history had been averted. Bryant's Lakers still trailed by 31 points entering the fourth quarter, and he had 21 points at that point in the game.

Bryant's day was done. The Lakers would play their backups for the duration of the fourth quarter en route to a 110-91 loss.

"I didn't think we came ready mentally or physically," Lakers coach Byron Scott said afterwards on TWC Sportsnet. "We just got outplayed tonight."

After winning two of three games on the road, the Lakers will return home to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night at Staples Center.

]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant: Quotes on Special Night]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 06:01:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-passes-Michael-Jordan.jpg

After passing Michael Jordan on the NBA's all-time scoring list and leading the Los Angeles Lakers to victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, a candid Kobe Bryant opened up about the historic experience and fielded a variety of questions:

On the Minnesota Timberwolves stopping Sunday's game to present Bryant with the game ball:

"I wasn't expecting the Timberwolves' organization to honor me like that. That was awesome. It felt great to have that. I didn't know what it was going to feel like. It's something that you pass off a little bit, but to have that reaction in that moment in time, I'd be lying if I said it didn't mean something."

"It was just a class move by them."

"It was different. I'm so used to being the villain all the time on the road (laughs). It took a minute to adjust, but I've got to say it felt good to be appreciated like that."

"I'm used to being the villain, so to have moments like that is like when you're not expecting a hug and you get a hug, and you're like, 'man, this actually feels pretty damn good.' "

On constantly playing the role of the villain:

"When it comes to basketball, that's just what I am naturally. I think the competitive nature is something that frightens a lot of people. When you peel back truly what's inside of a person to compete and be at that high level, it scares a lot of people that are comfortable just being average. I think if you look at Michael's retirement speech, people really got a chance to see how he ticks, and it scared a lot of people. That's the reality of it. You can't get to a supreme level without kind of channeling the dark side."

On hearing Earvin "Magic" Johnson had proclaimed him to be in the top 5 players of all time:

"To have that kind for respect from him, the player that I grew up idolizing, that's really what it's about for me...having the respect from those who've played and the greats that I've learned from. That's unbelievable."

"The most important thing to me is playing for the respect of the greats and feeling like I'm a part of that culture and a part of that brotherhood."

On whether the free throws he made to pass Jordan felt any different:

"A little bit. You get up there, and you're like, 'dude, the crowd's really waiting to see you score nine points, so don't F this up.'"

On nearing the end of his career:

"Now, I appreciate the game even more because it has a certain finality to it. When moments like this come around, you're really overjoyed by it. At the same time, you know that the end if pretty near, which is fine, too."

On his biggest influences for the fadeaway jump shot:

"Repetition. A lot of repetition. I learned a lot from Michael (Jordan) in terms of technique and a lot from Hakeem (Olajuwon)--same type of shot but different footwork...(Those) two are the ones that I've really learned the most from in terms of that fallaway (jump shot)."

On the advantage of adjusting his game while playing with the Lakers:

"It's fun to constantly try to figure out new things and things to do better. I'm very blessed to be with an organization where you have some of the greats of all time sitting right there, so at any given moment, you'll call them up and they'll come to practice and they'll work with you."

On Derek Jeter's farewell season:

"Derek (Jeter) and I are different people, so he just hides it better, but I guarantee you our competitive spirit is exactly the same. He just hides it better, or chooses to hide it. I don't choose to hide it."

How would you say you were able to score that many points?

"Fundamentals."

"You got to love what you do, too. I love what I do, so it doesn't feel like I've worked a day in my life. I just love the learning. I love the challenge of it all."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Win 3rd Straight, Kobe Goes 3rd All Time]]> Sun, 14 Dec 2014 22:03:49 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-third-all-time-NBA.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-94 on Sunday evening to extend their longest streak winning streak of the season to three games.

History was on the schedule, as Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan to go third on the NBA's all-time scoring list. With 5:24 to play in the second quarter, Bryant earned a trip to the free throw line and knocked down his two foul shots. After hitting two free throws with a torn Achilles, passing Jordan from the free throw line did not at all seem out of place. No one assisted on Bryant's historic basket.

For a moment, the Minnesota Timberwolves halted the game to give Bryant the game ball and allow the crowd to acknowledge the incredible feat. Bryant also received hugs from his teammates, coach and longtime athletic trainer Gary Vitti.

"I wasn't expecting the Timberwolves organization to honor me like that," Bryant said on TWC Sportsnet after the game. "That was awesome. It felt great to have that. I didn't know what it was going to feel like."

Bryant added, "I'd be lying if I said it didn't mean something."

Then, the history of the occasion was momentarily trumped by the present game at hand.

The Lakers, who carried a four-point lead into the halftime break, relied on balance and their bench to carry them to that point. Carlos Boozer, who was playing his fourth straight game off the bench, finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds. He was one of the guys Lakers coach Byron Scott trusted down the stretch of a close game, and Boozer came through. The veteran power forward tabbed 12 points and seven rebounds in the final period.

While the Lakers managed to never trail in the second half of Sunday's game, they were embroiled in a close contest down the stretch. Bryant stepped forward to hit big shot after big shot when the game was on the line. The 36-year-old scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, and none were bigger than the three that came on a 26-foot shot from distance that went in with 1:22 to play in the game.

Before the shot, the Lakers and Timberwolves were tied at 94-94. Bryant gave the Lakers the lead for good, as the Timberwolves would not score again, and the Lakers won 100-94.

Bryant finished with 26 points in the victory, but the historical significance carried more weight than simply winning a game.

"It's just been an unbelievable career," Scott said after the game. "He just plays to win."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Passes Michael Jordan]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 02:53:06 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Kobe-Bryant-passes-Jordan-points_12-14-14.jpg

On Sunday evening in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Kobe Bryant further cemented his place in basketball lore by becoming the third greatest scorer in NBA history.

Bryant passed Michael Jordan's total of 32,292 points in the first half of Sunday's game at Target Center. Only needing nine points on the day, most expected Bryant would surpass the required total before halftime, and Bryant did not disappoint.

Though Bryant missed his first three shots and the Minnesota Timberwolves were consistently putting a hard double team on the Lakers' star, the 19-year veteran began to slowly solve the defensive riddle.

After eight scoreless minutes on Sunday, Bryant's first two points on the night came from the foul line. By the time the first quarter ended, Bryant had four points on five shots, but he did not appear to be in any particular hurry to pass no. 23 on the all-time scoring list.

Instead, Bryant was happy to chaperon the Lakers to a three point lead after one quarter. In the second quarter, Bryant would return from his rest and immediately launch a three-pointer. Bryant took the ball on a turnaround jump shot to pass Jordan, but the ball went in and out. On the next possession, Bryant would head to the free throw line and sink two free throws.

Bryant moved to third all-time on the NBA scoring list, and Jordan dropped to fourth.

The game was momentarily halted as Bryant received hugs and congratulations from his teammates. The Timberwolves' PA announcer congratulated the 36-year-old and the fans in attendance applauded in appreciation. For a night, Minnesota felt like the home of the Lakers again.

With Jordan out of the way, Bryant is still a long way behind Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Malone's total of 36,928 points and Abdul-Jabbar's total of 38,387 points would likely require Bryant to play past the summer of 2016, when Bryant's current contract is set to retire.

On Sunday in Minneapolis, no. 24 passed no. 23 on the all-time scoring list, as Bryant further solidified his case for being the greatest Laker of all time in the city where the Lakers were born.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Passing Jordan's Scoring Mark Sunday]]> Sun, 14 Dec 2014 09:02:46 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-Michael-Jordan-1.jpg

Three is the number of the day on Sunday.

The Los Angeles Lakers have to opportunity to win their third game in a row for the first time this season, but that’s not why the number three is important.

Kobe Bryant, likely in the first half, will move past Michael Jordan into third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. With his eighth point against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Bryant will tie Jordan. With his ninth point, no. 24 will pass no. 23.

Jordan will forever sit at 32,292 points, while Bryant will continue increasing his total as long as his body and mind both remain on board with the wear and tear of the NBA. The comparisons in both style and substance are inevitable and necessary, but Bryant passing Jordan should provide perspective on how great a career the kid from Italy by way of Philadelphia has constructed to this point rather than simply comparing Jordan and Bryant head-to-head.

Dressed in purple and gold for his 19th straight season, Bryant is in past the quarter pole in what has been presented as his penultimate year as a pro.

When Jordan scored the last of his 32,292 points, he was a 40-year-old wearing gym shorts with a wizard on them. Bryant is a spry 36-year-old looking like he has plenty left in the tank--especially if the Lakers actually get around to cutting his minutes. Jordan on the Washington Wizards as a 40-year-old is a memory most would rather forget, but he did once score 43 points as a 40-year-old. Watching this, one can instantly imagine Bryant smiling and thinking about the prospect of scoring 44 points as a 40-year-old.

After passing Jordan, Bryant looks ahead to former teammate Karl Malone. Malone scored 36,928 points over his 19-year career. The “Mail Man” was a physically gifted 41-year-old in his final season, which was his only season with the Lakers.

Averaging 25 points per game, Bryant would need 186 games to pass Malone on the list. That means that the “Black Mamba” would be 45 games shy of passing Malone when his contract expires in 2016. However, should Bryant follow suit with the other three mean closest to him on the all-time scoring list and play until age 40, he would easily catch Malone and even have a realistic chance at finishing as the leading scorer in the history of the NBA.

Worth noting, Lakers coach Byron Scott and Lakers president Jeanie Buss have previously publicly stated that they have hopes the veteran will play beyond his current contract.

Averaging 25 points per game, Bryant enters Sunday’s historic contest in Minneapolis 245 games away from the master of the sky hook. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was age 42 when he left the sport in 1989. The task of catching Malone seems reasonable and attainable, and even reaching Abdul-Jabbar’s tally of 38,387 points appears plausible.

Averaging 25 points per game and playing all 82 games in every season, Bryant would catch Abdul-Jabbar in the 22nd game of the 2017-18 season. He would only be a 39-year-old. If he played at age 40 like the other three guys in the top four, Bryant would have a legitimate opportunity to become the first player to 40,000 points.

The fact that this discussion is possible should explain exactly how different Bryant will be to Jordan by the time no. 24 hangs it up in the rafters.

The Lakers and Timberwolves tip off at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Surprise Spurs in San Antonio]]> Sat, 13 Dec 2014 21:45:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Spurs-Dec-12-14.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers won an overtime thriller against the world champion San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.

The Lakers entered Friday's game with 10 fewer wins and 10 more losses than the Spurs. When they fell behind 10-0 to start the game, Friday night seemed like it would be another long night for the languishing Lakers.

With a national audience watching, Kobe Bryant did not simply gun for Michael Jordan on the scoring chart. He set the table and started the Lakers' offense. By halftime, the Lakers had a four-point lead and had scored 54 points on the world champions. Bryant, who needed 31 points to pass Jordan on the all-time list, only attempted nine shots in the first half. Instead, he led a balanced attack that flourished off three-point shots. Bryant would go into the locker room with a healthy 11 points, three assists and four rebounds.

The Lakers' three-point proficiency derived from the especially hot hands of Jeremy Lin, Wesley Johnson and Nick Young. The trio hit 10 of their first 11 three-pointers.

In the second half, Bryant came out with a purpose. The 36-year-old scored eight points in the third quarter setting up a fantastic finish. With 19 points to his name, Bryant took his final rest knowing that he only needed 12 points to pass Jordan on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

Even better, the Lakers continued to play balanced basketball and carried an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter. Down the stretch, though, Bryant continued to pass and make the correct basketball plays.

Of course, Bryant did have a special moment of offensive brilliance. With exactly two minutes to play and the Spurs within six points, Bryant beat the shot clock with a deep three-point shot over his defender. The shot was incredible, but the offense failed from that point forward.

After Bryant's incredible three-pointer, the Lakers would not score again for the final 1:59 of the the fourth quarter. At home, the Spurs rallied and tied the game late. Both the Lakers and the Spurs had chances to win the game in the dying moments, but overtime was in the cards.

Young re-emerged to give the Lakers an early lead in the extra session. The San Antonio Spurs responded to take a one-point lead with a minute to play in the overtime. Then, Young would do his best Bryant impersonation. Late in the shot clock with his team trailing late in overtime, Young hit a deep three-point field goal that gave the Lakers a two-point lead with 7.4 seconds to play. Young would also finish as the leading scorer in the game with 29 points.

"'Swaggy' shooting a desperation three [with the] clock running down — piece of cake," Lakers coach Byron Scott smiled when asked if that's how he drew it up.

Miraculously, the Lakers held on for a defensive possession and won 112-110. Bryant did not catch Jordan on this night, but he got the win. He would tab up six assists in the fourth quarter and overtime to put him at nine assists and 22 points for the game. The smile on his face did not make it seem as if Bryant was at all concerned about catching Jordan when the final buzzer sounded.

Next, the Lakers will be in Minneapolis on Sunday, so Bryant can add poetry to passing Jordan in the place where the Lakers were born.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Spurs' Balance Makes Lakers Underdogs]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 13:35:12 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Spurs-Kobe-Bryant-Tim-Duncan.jpg

Kobe Bryant’s quest for history will dominate the pregame and postgame discussions on Friday, but the San Antonio Spurs are not dressing for an awards ceremony. With a record of 16-6, the Spurs are currently slotted into the sixth seed in the dangerously lethal Western Conference.

On the opposite side of the Spurs, the Lakers have a 6-16 record entering Friday night’s game. To earn their sixth win, the Lakers required a superhuman fourth quarter from Bryant against a Sacramento Kings team that was without its best player, DeMarcus Cousins.

This may not be breaking news, but the Lakers are currently not as good as the Spurs.

When these teams met at Staples Center on Nov. 14, Bryant was under the weather and looked every bit of his age. San Antonio held Bryant to nine points on 1-14 shooting. Bryant did manage six assists, but that game should hint that the Spurs have no intentions of allowing no. 24 to score 31 points and pass no. 23 on the all-time scoring list.

The Spurs last played on Wednesday in a game that featured Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all watching from the sidelines. Ginobili was rested, Duncan did not get into the game on a coach’s decision, Leonard and Parker missed the game due to a bruised hand and strained hamstring, respectively. The Spurs still beat the New York Knicks by double digits.

With Bryant and the Lakers coming to town, Duncan, Ginobili, Parker and Leonard all returning to the lineup would surprise no one. Balance, however, is the key to the Spurs’ version of the beautiful game on hardwood. Parker leads the team with 16.6 points per game, but he is joined by four other Spurs who also average double digits in points.

To further illustrate the Spurs’ balance, Parker is averaging 5.5 assists per game to lead the team. As a point guard, that number does not jump off the page, as Bryant is averaging a comparable 4.9 assists per game. However, 11 Spurs average at least one assist per game, which points out exactly how balanced the Spurs are on the offensive end. The Lakers have six guys that average at least 1.0 assists per game.

The Lakers enter San Antonio as massive underdogs on Friday night, and Spurs coach Greg Popovich would love nothing more than to beat the Lakers and deny Bryant in his attempt to pass Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list.

The Lakers and Spurs tip off at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Chasing Jordan When Lakers Face Spurs]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 10:34:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Spurs-Kobe-Bryant.jpg

Kobe Bryant stands 31 points away from passing Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list entering Friday night’s Los Angeles Lakers game against the San Antonio Spurs.

History may be made on Friday night, or Bryant may take two nights to pass the milestone. If Bryant takes two nights, history would likely be made in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the Lakers got their name and won their first title. That conversation, however, is for Saturday night.

Bryant has been constantly compared to Jordan since the moment he walked onto the court, and those comparisons have only gained further momentum with each turnaround fadeaway jump shot and every NBA championship. When looking back, Bryant is the closest any player has come to being Jordan in the 16 years since the greatest shooting guard of all time retired from the Chicago Bulls.

On Friday night, Bryant is only 31 points shy from moving past Jordan in a major category and doing so against the Spurs seems to fit all too snugly. In San Antonio, Bryant faces another all-time great who played in his prime at the same time as Bryant: Tim Duncan.

Duncan has five NBA titles and six trips to the NBA Finals. Bryant has five NBA titles and seven trips to the NBA Finals. From 1999 until 2014, Duncan's Spurs and Bryant's Lakers have appeared in the NBA Finals in 13 of 16 years.

The comparisons between Bryant and Jordan may be inevitable considering the playing styles of both players and the historical occasion of passing no. 23 on the scoring charts, but the comparisons between Duncan and Bryant are just as relevant on this or any other night.

On Friday, Bryant's quest for history goes through San Antonio, just as it has for the better part of the past two decades.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trash Talk - Kobe Bryant at Lakers Practice]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 14:14:31 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Pistons-12-2.jpg

When the doors to the practice court opened late Wednesday morning, the Los Angeles Lakers were embroiled in a heated scrimmage that pitted the first unit against the second unit. Kobe Bryant was on the court guarding Nick Young, and the two trigger happy shooters were firing bullets with their tongues.

"Nobody in the world could guard be one-on-one," Young screamed at Bryant multiple times after getting the better of the veteran on a cross over.

Bryant chirped back with expletives mixed in and referring to his teammates as being soft like high quality toilet paper. Bryant's team won the scrimmage, and so the 19-year veteran continued to speak at a high volume until he passed the gates that guard the trainer's room.

Bryant had not practiced with the team for about two weeks in an attempt to preserve the aging superstar for games, but Wednesday was an exception.

"Today's practice was one of the best practices we've had in a while," Lakers coach Byron Scott said after the session wrapped up. "When (Bryant's) practicing, our level is totally higher. He just brings a different element."

Scott pointed to the "unbelievable intensity" that the 36-year-old carries onto to practice court as being the difference: "He treats it like it's a game."

The Lakers' coach explained that his intention was to only have his superstar come out and shoot on Wednesday after skipping Tuesday's session altogether. However, Bryant felt good and was insistent on doing the extra work to keep himself and his teammates sharp.

"I've always enjoyed practices more than the games," Bryant said after the session had ended. The veteran hoped his teammates could carry the intensity forward, while at the same time admitting that his body simply did not have the ability to go through the scrimmages on a regular basis. Bryant has been regularly skipping practices and shootarounds with an eye to keeping the shooting guard's legs fresh for late-game situations.

When asked about Young yelling that no one in the world was qualified to guard "Swaggy P" one-on-one, Bryant wrapped up the session with a quote for the ages: "Thank God I'm not from this world."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former Dodger Gordon Thanks Team, Fans]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 12:02:15 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/456808650.jpg

Last season Dee Gordon put a sign above his locker in the Dodger Stadium clubhouse. It had three simple words that sum up his mindset as a ballplayer: “Trust the Process”.

That has to be what he’s thinking right now, given that the organization he grew up in has shipped him off to the Miami Marlins.

The particulars of the trade he was involved in are as murky as Gordon’s time with the Dodgers: complicated.

Coming into the 2014 season, the Dodgers were giving him one last shot in the big leagues, but didn't have a guaranteed starting job coming out of spring training. By May, he looked like Roberto Alomar reincarnated. He made the All-Star team, led the league in steals (64), triples (12) and was the catalyst on a team that won 94 games and a division title. Most of all, to Dodger fans, he was their little brother.

From talking to him, Gordon never envisioned playing for another team. But, it’s his reality now. Before leaving town, though, he showed what a class act he is in a note he posted to the organization and Dodger fans on Twitter.

 

 

What I’m wondering is, who’s going to do the Dougie if the Dodgers win the NL West against next season?

At 26 years old Gordon’s at the age when players start to hit their stride and he seemed well on his way to fitting that mold. But, he, clearly, didn’t fit in the Dodgers future.

It’ll be interesting to see where his career goes from here. It seems like he just arrived in Los Angeles now he’s gone, in a flash.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Different Than Michael Jordan]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 16:07:19 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-Michael-Jordan.jpg

With Kobe Bryant zooming on the highway of greatness and Michael Jordan only a car length ahead, one would expect the sole focus of no.24 to be on passing no. 23.

Somehow, he seemed bigger than that on Tuesday night.

"It's a great honor, man. I've learned so much (from him)," Bryant said about Jordan before pointing out that he also learned from playing against great players like Clyde Drexler, John Stockton and Gary Payton.

"We actually communicate pretty often," Bryant responded when asked if he expected Jordan to contact him after Bryant inevitably passed no. 23 on the all-time scoring list. "I mean, it's coming, right? It's not like [the record is] going to happen or not sort of thing. I just take it all in stride."

Bryant knows he'll get 31 more points and pass Jordan. He may even take two games to get there, but he knows he will pass the mark.

Instead of making the lead up to Jordan focus on passing the Chicago Bulls' legend, Bryant opted to remind the world about the human side of the soon-to-be third-greatest scorer of all time.

Bryant led teammates in wearing t-shirts that read "I can't breathe" in the Lakers' win over the Sacramento Kings, as Bryant's stride has always been more socially conscious. Several NBA players including LeBron James and Derrick Rose had previously worn similar t-shirts for warm ups.

Bryant and the Lakers provided the first example of a full team (with the exception of Robert Sacre)* wearing the shirts that bring attention to a larger "legal system" issue, as Bryant earlier termed it. The words "I can't breathe" come from Eric Garner, who died due to the use of an illegal choke hold placed on him by police officers in Staten Island, New York.

The death was caught on video and is easily searchable online. In the video, Garner is heard saying, "I can't breathe" repeatedly. The true tragedy of the video is that the man was not acting violently, carrying a weapon or even causing a notable disturbance when police officers decide to climb on top of him and end his life. Although the video caused tremendous uproar when it initially surfaced, the latest demonstrations were not direct reactions to the video itself.

Instead, the latest demonstrations were a reaction to the decision not to indict any police officers in the face of clear video evidence that showed the death of non-violent unarmed man at the hands of police officers. Demonstrations erupted in various forms nationwide in reaction to the verdict.

Wearing a t-shirt that reads "I can't breathe" is the NBA's version of non-violent protest on the subject.

"I didn't have to research and study too much to look at the video--pretty self-explanatory," Bryant said late Tuesday night.

Instead of being locked in on passing Jordan, Bryant decided to deflect some of his added national attention to support a social cause. In many ways, this was exactly how Bryant was different than Jordan, who was known for being largely inactive in a social capacity.

If meeting on the all-time scoring list is about making comparisons, one cannot help but find that the "I can't breathe" t-shirt fits tighter on Bryant than it would ever have on Jordan, and in that way, Kobe is better than Michael.

 

*After the game, Sacre said he did not understand the cause enough to don the shirt. He had seen the video and felt it was a tragic occurrence. The Lakers' center expressed sympathy for the family. However, he stated that he was unsure exactly what the t-shirts represented. As such, he abstained from taking part. All other Lakers' players wore the shirt.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Beat Kings, Kobe Bryant Plays Hero]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 00:45:54 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Kobe-Bryant-loss-Warriors.jpg

Kobe Bryant, once again, played the role of hero at Staples Center, as he led the Lakers in a comeback 98-95 win over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.

Bryant scored 32 points and took over the game in the fourth quarter before hitting a series of clutch free throws in the final minute.

Bryant started the game searching for his shot, as he started the night only 62 points behind Michael Jordan on the NBA's all-time scoring list. In the first quarter, Bryant attempted 10 of the Lakers' first 25 shots, but the "Black Mamba" only hit thrice. The 36-year-old would enter the locker room for the halftime intermission with 11 points on 13 shots, but the Lakers trailed by nine points.

To start the second half, Bryant elevated his game and made five of his first seven shots. The Lakers would trim the lead to two points after Bryant's flurry, and the Lakers tied the game twice before finishing the quarter down three points. However, LA was unable to take the lead.

In the fourth and final quarter, the Lakers fell behind by six points when the crowd grew restless and began to chant "We want Kobe."

Immediately, Lakers coach Byron Scott adhered to the crowd's request, and Bryant returned to the game with 6:45 remaining in the contest. Incredibly, all of the Lakers' points from that point forward would be directly tied to no. 24 in a vintage fourth quarter performance that won the game.

First, Bryant combined with Carlos Boozer and provided the power forward with an easy layup. Then, he found Wesley Johnson for a three-pointer. When his teammates struggled to make shots, Bryant turned recipient and dunked the ball home to bring the Lakers within one point. For his next trick, Bryant hit a three-pointer to tie the contest at 92-92.

For the Lakers' first lead of the second half, Bryant found Jordan Hill for a layup. With that, Bryant recorded his sixth assist for the game and third for the final quarter. After Darren Collison scored a reverse layup, Bryant earned a trip to the free throw line and restored a one-point Lakers' lead with 34.4 seconds to play.

A defensive stop resulted in Bryant holding the ball and being intentionally fouled. In clutch fashion, Bryant stepped up and made two more free throws to give the Lakers a three-point lead. Another solid defensive sequence, and the Lakers walked off victorious.

"He's one of the greatest to ever play," Lakers coach Byron Scott said after the game. "But I think we already knew that."

"He's a special player," Scott added. "Sometimes, I just shake my head at how he can continue to go out there and deliver."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Byron Scott on Boozer: "He's Not The Coach"]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 12:41:49 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Carlos-Boozer-back.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers have plenty of issues on the court, but an issue in the locker room may be blooming, as well. On Tuesday morning, Lakers coach Byron Scott spoke with reporters ahead of the upcoming game against the Sacramento Kings and touched on comments made by disgruntled power forward Carlos Boozer on Monday.

"He's not the coach,"Scott said in no uncertain terms when asked about Boozer publicly saying he was not of the opinion that he deserved to get benched. "It's my opinion."

Scott did not waver in his speech or leave any doubt about who was making the decisions for the Los Angeles Lakers in the locker room.

"As a coach, sometimes, you have to make tough decisions," Scott continued. "It was a tough decision, but I made it. I'm going to stick to it, and we're just going to go from there."

A day earlier, Boozer made it clear he did not agree with the change and said he had not had any dialogue with his coach regarding the switch. To his credit, the veteran forward also made it clear that he would go along with the coach's plan in the hopes the team would win more often.

"I didn't need to necessarily talk to Jeremy (Lin). He came to me," Scott responded when asked if there was need for dialogue between the coach and his newly benched power forward. "So no, I don't feel I need to clear the air."

Boozer had particularly appeared to take issue with defense being used as a driving factor in the 33-year-old being demoted. On Tuesday, Scott again began to discuss the defensive improvement of the first team to justify his changes.

Scott said, "I thought Ed (Davis) and Ronnie (Price) in that starting unit got exactly what we talked about in that first half (against New Orleans) especially, where the guys were much better on that defensive end of the floor."

Entering Tuesday night's game, Scott appeared satisfied with benching Boozer and Lin for defensive reasons, and no discussion on the matter was scheduled or expected between the coach and his veteran forward. Whether or not that is entirely healthy remains to be seen, but that is the way it is.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Byron Scott Talks Boozer Benching]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 12:09:16 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ByronScottonCarlosBoozerbenching_12914_1200x675_369208899777.jpg At Tuesday's LA Lakers' shootaround, Coach Byron Scott addressed Carlos Boozer's comments about being benched and disagreeing with his coach.]]> <![CDATA[Lakers Host Kings on Tuesday]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 10:12:54 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Kings-12-9.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers host the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night at Staples Center, but what may have seemed like a winnable game on the schedule to start the season looks like another opportunity to disappoint home fans.

The Lakers have been horrific at home.

In 11 games at Staples Center, the Lakers have only won twice. To put that in perspective, only two teams in the NBA have a worse home record: the Detroit Pistons and the Philadelphia 76ers. The Kings' road record is 5-5 may not seem at all special until one realizes the Kings have as many road wins as the Lakers have total wins.

Through 21 games, the Lakers have failed to provide much of anything to feel good about, and Lakers coach Byron Scott recently opted to take dramatic steps to shake up the lineups. Although the Lakers lost big against the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night with the new lineup, installing changes without a practice made it easy to comprehend the lack of understanding between players that have not been playing together.

With Ronnie Price taking over the point guard position, the Lakers have a player that competes on the defensive end and specializes in passing on the offensive end. Price is not a guy who will win a game by scoring 20 points and dishing 20 assists, but he also is not a guy who will commit 10 turnovers and lose a game by failing to find teammates.

Ed Davis may not be household name, but he's been LA's best offseason addition through the first quarter of the NBA season. Davis earned the opportunity to start games, and his tenacity on defense is only matched by his ability to roll to the basket and finish around the rim.

Incidentally, the two areas where Davis excels, interior defense and finishing at the rim, are the two areas where Carlos Boozer struggled most through the first 20 games.

Luckily for Davis, Kings' star player DeMarcus Cousins is suffering with viral meningitis and expects not to be available against the Lakers. Cousins has missed six games with the illness after starting the season averaging 23.5 points, 12.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, which were all team highs.

In Cousins' absence, the Kings have lost four of the six games they have played.

Sacramento will look to Rudy Gay and Darren Collison to step up on Tuesday night at Staples Center. Sacramento's no. 2 and no. 3 options combine for 37.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 10.6 assists per game. With Cousins out, those numbers will need to inflate further for the Kings to come out with a win on Tuesday night.

The Lakers and Kings tip-off at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Practice: Carlos Boozer Bashful]]> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 14:55:31 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Carlos-Boozer-12-8-14.jpg

"These guys got to get used to each other," Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott said Monday's practice felt a bit like starting over. "I've got two units that have to get used to playing together and playing with each other, so today's practice was going over a lot of little things that we've been doing, and then, having them play, so they can get used to each other."

Scott opted to shuffle the Lakers' starting lineup following an unconscionably poor start where LA dropped 15 of its first 20 games. In Sunday's one-sided loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, the changes did not yield immediate results, but the Lakers had yet to even hold a practice under the new setup. On Monday, the Lakers attempted to mesh the new lineup that should be in place for at least another 10 to 15 games.

"I don't massage egos," Scott said he didn't believe he needed to work on players' feelings. "You know, if you're 5-15 at that time, from a coaching standpoint, you have to make some type of changes. You don't want it to keep going the same way."

Scott said Jeremy Lin came to him to discuss the change, and the coach had a discussion where he thought Lin handled the news with maturity. Carlos Boozer, who was the other player dropped from the starting lineup, confirmed that he had not held any dialogue on the subject.

Boozer, who had not yet spoken to the media following the change, opted to make reporters wait on the Lakers' practice court for somewhere between half an hour and a full hour after everyone else was done. Then, Boozer appeared for a combative two-minute interview on the subject of being demoted.

"Obviously, it was a surprise. I didn't expect that," Boozer said about being removed from the starting lineup on Sunday. "I was sick, so I missed shootaround to take antibiotics, meet with doctors, so I found out right when I got to the arena around 3:30 (p.m.)."

Boozer said the subject had not been approached since, but the veteran forward was on board with the team concept. Earlier, Scott cited defense as an area that needed improvement for Boozer when making the change, and the Lakers' backup big man was asked about what he made of the coach's comments about his defense playing a factor.

"That's just his opinion," Boozer responded somewhat childishly before being asked what his opinion was. "I have a different opinion. I keep it to myself."

Boozer made it clear that he held disagreements but managed not to share details of those conflicts publicly. Boozer came off sounding spoiled and bashful, especially considering he made reporters hang around for the better part of an hour to provide them with short answers.

Asked about a discussion he had with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak at the end of practice, Boozer again offered a slightly pompous response: "It's just me and Mitch talking. That's not for you guys. That's for us."

With that, the frustrated forward ended his interview and wrapped up Monday's Lakers practice.

Next, the Lakers take the floor on Tuesday night against the Sacramento Kings.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Lose to Pelicans]]> Sun, 07 Dec 2014 22:39:14 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-lose-to-Pelicans_12-7-14.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers made changes to their starting lineup ahead of Sunday's game against the New Orleans Pelicans. None of those changes had any notable impact, however, as the Lakers lost big 104-87 in front of their home fans for the ninth time in 11 home games.

Ed Davis and Ronnie Price were added to the starting lineup in place of Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer to help rectify a horrendous start to the season that saw the Lakers lose 15 times in their first 20 games.

Both Price and Davis played well, but neither had an eye-opening performance, and the minor adjustments only served as a band-aid on a broken leg. Davis did manage to avoid foul trouble, which was a major concern entering the game, and Price was an improvement defensively. However, the Lakers lost, and the game was largely not competitive.

In fact, the Lakers' crowd began to jeer loudly multiple times late in the game.

"It ain't fun getting booed," Lakers guard Nick Young said after the game. "It was well deserved. We were playing like crap out there."

As much as the Lakers rank last in defense, the Lakers' offense looked depressingly poor on Sunday night. The team started out the game shooting 25 percent in the first quarter and barely crept over 33 percent for the first half. By the time the game ended, the Lakers were up to 40 percent shooting, but defenses tend to let down when a team is up by 20 points.

That was not a hyperbolic statement. The Pelicans led by 20 points after three quarters at Staples Center, and that lead would grow to 24 points before the final buzzer. The hodgepodge of lineups did not make much of any difference on its first viewing, as the lack of shot making doomed the home team from the start.

Young and Kobe Bryant combined for nine made shots on 31 shot attempts. The Lakers' two most dynamic scorers finished with 27 points combined. Entering the night, Bryant was contributing an average of 26 points per game on his own.

The Lakers did not entirely lose the game on their own, obviously. Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday both had great nights for the Pelicans. Davis finished with 23 points on 11-15 shooting, and Holiday finished with 22 points and eight assists. The Pelicans may not be a bad team, but the Lakers made them look a whole lot better than they really were.

For a weekend that started with a painfully one-sided loss to the Boston Celtics, the 17-point home loss to the Pelicans may have actually felt worse.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers: Boozer, Lin Benched; Price, Davis Starting]]> Sun, 07 Dec 2014 12:42:02 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-lineup-changes-Lin-Boozer_12-7.jpg

After promising changes following a tough loss to the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott followed through on his word.

"Starting lineup has been changed: Ronnie Price will start at the point guard; Kobe (Bryant) at the two; Wesley (Johnson) at the three; Ed Davis at four; Jordan Hill at five," Scott told NBCLA.com on Sunday morning.

Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer were no longer starting, and Price and Davis had usurped their starting roles. Scott pointed to a "defensive mentality" that both Price and Davis possessed--something the coach thought the team needed at this moment.

"I think Ed's energy is contagious. He comes in and he brings a different element. And I think it's the same with Ronnie." Scott's reasoning for making the changes was ground in defense, "They think the defensive end of the floor first, and right now, that's what we need."

When asked about how the player had taken the news, the coach laughed off the question. He pointed to the record, 5-15, and asked rhetorically, "What are they going to say?"

Scott continued, "(I'm) just trying to inject some more energy into our team but also to let them know that if you think your minutes are guaranteed, it's not. It really isn't. To be honest with you, from a coaching standpoint, I got nothing to lose. I really don't. We're 5-15 right now."

Asked what Lin and Boozer needed to do going forward, the coach was clear: "The biggest thing is I need them to defend. Offensively, especially from Jeremy, understanding just what a point guard is...he still has to learn that."

Through 20 games, Lin has had a difficult time consistently creating for teammates and showing signs of building chemistry. The one-sided loss in Boston was just the latest example of Lin failing to run the offense as a point guard. Lin was able to attack the rim in spots and shoot a high percentage, but he only managed two assists with two turnovers on the night. His opposite number, Rajon Rondo, notched 16 assists and one turnover--more than the entire Lakers' team.

Consistent defensive effort, ultimately, was the reason the coach made his changes. Previously, Boozer missed a game due to a shoulder injury, and Davis made his lone start of the season. In that game, the forward was unable to avoid foul trouble and proved to be ineffective as a starter.

"The first thing I want (Davis) to do is play like he plays--play with that aggressive mindset and that physical mindset," Scott said when asked about how Davis would need to adjust as a starter. "But obviously, with doing that, he has to be a little bit smarter now that he's going to start. I want him to be on the floor as much as possible. There's going to be times when he has to just give up a layup or give up a basket to avoid getting his second or third foul early."

Scott also believed that Davis would hear less whistles from the officials once they saw him play more consistently.

Scott said, "The more he's out there, the more the referees will start to see what type of player he is and how he plays, and they'll start to give him more respect."

The Lakers' coach was quick to warn that these were only the first changes. He said the coaching staff would assess progress based on five games at a time, but he would likely be quicker to make changes on the next go-around.

On Sunday night, the new-look Lakers host the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center. Tip-off is 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Painfully Poor, Celtics Win]]> Sat, 06 Dec 2014 06:50:56 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Lakers-lose-to-Celtics.jpg

On Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers walked onto the parquet floor in body, but their minds were still hiding in the TD Garden locker room.

The Lakers lost big, 113-96, as Rajon Rondo put on a point guard clinic that showed exactly how to carve up the Lakers early and often.

In the blink of an eye, the Lakers trailed by 16 points. The game was not even eight minutes old, and the Lakers had allowed the Celtics to burst out of the gates and hang 25 points on the scoreboard. The Lakers had slugged their way to nine points, as Kobe Bryant started cold. Luckily, Jordan Hill hit all of his shots and had seven points at that point to save face for the purple and gold.

"Bad start," Lakers coach Byron Scott said after the game on Time Warner Cable Sportsnet. "They played harder than we did. We got exactly what we deserved."

Truth be told, none of the Lakers looked comfortable all night long. Bryant would finish with 22 points on 9-21 shooting, and he never seemed in rhythm. Obviously, Bryant was not alone, as the Lakers' starting unit failed to get going in either half. In both halves, the Lakers bench worked to keep LA in the game, but the starters crumbled the game away.

Starters Carlos Boozer and Wesley Johnson would finish with only one made shot in 11 attempts. Although Jeremy Lin finished with 14 points and was especially positive when he put his head down and attacked the basket, he failed to lead the offense. The Lakers' point guard was still unable to set the offensive table or find any consistent rhythm with his teammates. He finished with only two assists on the night to go along with two turnovers.

As a team, the Lakers failed to adequately move the ball and logged only 14 assists to go along with 12 turnovers.

Rondo finished with 16 assists by himself, and he only had one turnover on the night. But the Celtics weren't all Rondo -- Friday was a memorable night for third-year center Tyler Zeller. The beneficiary of several of Rondo's assists and a porous Lakers' defense, Zeller only missed one shot and set a new career-high with 24 points. His plus-minus differential was an astounding plus-39, meaning the Celtics outscored the Lakers by 39 points when the 24-year-old was on the court.

With the loss, the Lakers fell to 5-15 on the season, and Scott seemed dissatisfied with what he had seen thus far. After the game, he promised changes to the starting lineup before Sunday's game at Staples Center. The coach would not specify which positions would be changed, but he did say the time had come. When pressed on why he thought the time was right, the coach pointed to the Lakers' dismal record after 20 games.

"It's been time enough" Scott said. "It's time to make a few changes."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Stats Analysis: Inside the Numbers]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 12:28:21 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Nick-Young-Stats.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers have played 19 games and are nearly at the quarter pole of the 2014-15 NBA season. Although there is plenty of basketball left to play, this seemed as good a time as any to dig a bit deeper inside the numbers.

26.0: At 26.0 points per game, Kobe Bryant leads the NBA in scoring. Close behind Bryant are Anthony Davis, 25.2 points per game, James Harden, 25.0 points per game, and LeBron James at 24.6 points per game. Remarkably, at 36 years and counting, Bryant is still able to dominate in the most prominent offensive category. As an added note, Bryant is only 99 points behind Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list.

2.3: Bryant's 35.8 minutes per game draw a great deal of attention, as well they should. However, advanced statistics show that Bryant leads the Lakers in distance too. On average, the 36-year-old is running 2.3 miles per game. Entering Friday's Lakers game against the Boston Celtics, Bryant has already run a team-leading 43.4 miles this season. That ranks 16th in the NBA for total distance run.

112.4: The Lakers' offensive rating is 105.4, which ranks 10th in the NBA. This means the Lakers score 105.4 points per 100 possessions. Unfortunately, the Lakers have a defensive rating of 112.4. In terms of advanced statistics, the Lakers are ranked dead last in defense. Allowing 112.4 points per 100 possessions is also worse than any team averaged a season ago. The Lakers' defensive rating under Mike D'Antoni in 2013-14 was 107.9. In a traditional sense, the Lakers allow 111.1 points per game, which is last in the NBA.

62.9: Ed Davis leads the Lakers in field goal percentage at 62.9 percent. Carlos Boozer is second on the team at 50.7 percent, but that is a healthy margin. On the other end of that spectrum, Ronnie Price is shooting 31.9 percent, meaning Davis is nearly twice as likely to convert on a shot as the point guard.

18.2: The Lakers average 18.2 three-point shot attempts per game. On average, they make 6.1 of those, so the Lakers are shooting 33.6 percent from beyond the arc. The Lakers rank in the bottom 10 in all three of those categories. On the Lakers' current road trip, the purple and gold have increased their shots from distance. The Lakers are averaging 11.0 makes on 23.0 attempts, which come out to 47.8 percent. If the Lakers were able to sustain these types of numbers, they would rank second in the NBA in makes and first in percentage.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers at Celtics: Kobe And Rondo]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 12:28:49 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Celtics-Kobe-Rondo.jpg

The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have combined to play 35 games this season. Each has won only five games, and at the moment, neither team is in line to make the playoffs, let alone win an NBA title.

However, none of that matters on Friday evening in Boston. It's the Lakers versus the Celtics, a matchup that adds up to 33 NBA titles.

After arriving in Boston late Wednesday night, Kobe Bryant found time to join Rajon Rondo for breakfast on Thursday morning. Pictures splattered across the internet, and Bryant's respectful quotes about Rondo were flung around cyberspace.

 

 

For a moment, forget the inevitable trade rumors that will sprout from the toast, hash browns and eggs that were consumed at the diner. Bryant's last NBA title came against Rondo's Celtics, and Rondo's only NBA title came against Bryant's Lakers. The level of respect these two men share for one another is impossible to fully comprehend, but they probably understand one another better than most.

After all, both players have been labeled as difficult guys to deal with in the locker room and on the court. Both are champions, and both won titles at a young age. Bryant blew out 22 candles only a couple months after winning his first NBA title way back in 2000. Eight years later, Rondo was barely 22 years young when the Celtics beat the Lakers in six games in 2008.

Fast forward another six years, and Rondo and Bryant are the only connections to the last time either team won a title.

The Celtics got younger. Six players on the Celtics are either rookies or in their second year in the NBA. The Lakers only have three guys that fall in that category. Unfortunately for the Lakers, one of those guys is at home recovering from a broken leg, another is rehabbing his torn hamstring and the third is the last man on the Lakers' injury ridden bench.

Regular season rivalry games are tough to come by in an 82-game NBA regular season, but the Lakers and Celtics offer that rare matchup that holds greater meaning than simply a win or a loss in the record books. These banner hoarding teams only play twice per season: once in Boston and once in Los Angeles.

On Friday, the Lakers take Boston's famous parquet floor for the one and only time during the 2014-15 season. Tip-off is 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Notes: Nick Young was suspended during the Lakers' trip to Boston in the 2013-14 season. This will be his first time playing the Celtics in Boston since joining the Lakers.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Lose To Wizards]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 20:02:48 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Lose-to-Wizards_12-3-14.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers lost on Wednesday night, but this loss did not seem as though it hurt as much as others.

No, the Lakers aren't numb to feeling pain from a loss already. Instead, this team played well and showed great fight against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference considering the circumstances. The circumstances being that the Lakers were playing their third game in the last four days, each of those games were held in different cities, and Wednesday night's game was on the second night of a back-to-back.

Add in that the Washington Wizards are sitting second in the Eastern Conference and are widely considered one of the elite teams in the East, and the Lakers looked more competitive that most would have predicted.

In the game, Kobe Bryant led the way with 29 points in 24 minutes. Nick Young, who was openly looking forward to playing his former team, also added 21 points off the Lakers' bench. On this night, the Lakers' second unit was worthy of time in the spotlight. LA's bench outscored the Wizards' bench by 20 points.

In contrast, the Wizards' starters, namely John Wall, Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat, displayed exactly why the Wizards aren't considered a fluke. Wall set the climate of the offense by passing off 15 assists and scoring 18 points. Meanwhile, Beal kept Bryant and the Lakers' backcourt honest with 27 points and seven assists of his own.

Gortat's efficient 21 points on 13 shots led directly to the Wizards' dominance under the basket. Along with out-rebounding the Lakers by 10, the Wizards' outscored the Lakers 56 to 20 in the paint. That was a staggering statistic, but ultimately, the Lakers were not played off the floor for most of the night.

In fact, several players stated that the team had "turned a corner" and did not take the loss to be nearly as demoralizing as other losses.

In the flow of the game, Bryant came out early and provided the Lakers a necessary lift in the first quarter. In the second period, the Lakers increased their lead to 11 points before dropping their hands and going into the locker room down by two points. In all too predictable a third quarter, the Lakers were staring at a double-digit deficit early in the fourth quarter.

In the final quarter, though, the Lakers battled to make it a four-point game with 2:05 to play. From there on out, Bryant a couple minutes of forgettable basketball. First, he missed a long three-pointer that immediately led to a transition bucket. Then, he turned the ball over, and the Wizards immediately ran down and finished with a dunk. Finally, Bryant fouled Wall on four-point play to cap of a nightmare finish for the purple and gold.

When the red lights lit up for the final time, the scoreboard read 111-95. The game was closer than the final score, but this one was still a loss, the Lakers' 14th loss in 19 games.

Notes: Jeremy Lin was benched for the fourth quarter and finished with 0 points with 0/10 shooting and 0/6 on 3-pointers. Lin added five assists and four turnovers. Ronnie Price played at point guard for the entire fourth quarter and finished perfect from the field. Price was 4/4 for the game and 3/3 from behind the three-point line.

Post-game Quote: "We just need more guys to join the party. We don't have the luxury to have 2 or 3 guys not play good games... Tonight, [Jeremy Lin] just had an awful night. That's just basketball." - Lakers coach Byron Scott after the game on TWC Sportsnet.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Make Trade for Outfielder]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 09:02:48 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/heisey+pic.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers traded pitcher Matt Magill for Cincinnati Reds outfielder Chris Heisey Tuesday, in a move that gives further credence that one of the team’s current five outfielders will be on the move soon.

The Dodgers drafted Magill in the 31st round in 2008 out of Royal High School in Simi Valley. His only big league action came in 2013 when he went 0-2 over 27 ⅔ innings in six starts. He spend the entire 2014 season at Triple-A Albuquerque.

Heisey had largely been a platoon outfielder in his five seasons with the Reds playing all three outfield positions and he figures to fill the same roll with the Dodgers, although with all the off-season wheeling and dealing the Dodgers are doing, we’ll have to see if he’s even on the team come spring training.

Last season the 29-year-old played in 119 games and finished with splits of .222/.265/.278 along with eight home runs and 22 RBIs.

With Heisey in the fold the Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman has a lot of chips to play with when he heads to baseball’s ultimate game of poker, a.k.a. the Winter Meetings, on Sunday. Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Scott Van Slyke are all in play to be dealt. The team has made it clear that Yasiel Puig is off the table. 

The latest talk, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, swirled around a possible trade that would send Matt Kemp to the Baltimore Orioles. But, yesterday, Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo Encina said talks on that seem to have stalled.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Should Lakers Sit Kobe Bryant?]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 03:50:50 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-fatigue_12-3-14.jpg

Murmurs started long before Kobe Bryant came back from injury: he'll just get hurt again; he's lost a step; he's going to be a shadow of what he was; he's too old, etc.

Well, Bryant have proved just about everyone wrong this season, but he is old.

"I was tired as (expletive)," Bryant said after the Tuesday’s win against the Detroit Pistons.

Displaying signs of fatigue, Bryant managed to play with spectacular focus and lack of focus at the same time. Against the Pistons, he focused on scoring for one short stretch in the third quarter and quickly logged 12 points over two minutes and 22 seconds. For the remaining 31 minutes and four seconds Bryant spent on the floor, he focused on playing winning basketball despite battling severe exhaustion.

Bryant would get a triple-double, but this was not the type worth celebrating. Bryant finished with 13 assists and 12 points, but his 10 turnovers glared out of the box score. In comparison, the entire Pistons' team only had 14 turnovers on the night.

More often than not, Bryant's errors came for the correct reasons. He was attempting to make the correct play for his teammates, and his 13 assists were evidence that he succeeded more often than he failed. His team winning and leading by as many as 21 points also served as evidence that he was playing the correct way.

With a month of the season complete, Bryant has displayed that his skill level is elite, but fatigued will continue to be a mounting factor.

After Tuesday's game, Bryant spoke with reporters and shared insights into his exhaustion. When asked whether he was feeling under the weather, he played the role of wise old man and referenced the father of Greek Mythology, often associated with Father Time.

Lakers coach Byron Scott highlighted the point of focus with Bryant: "This is all about trying to preserve his body as much as possible and let him get rest. Recovery time is the most important thing right now. We want him to be as strong as he can be for the games."

So, with Bryant clearly showing signs of exhaustion, wouldn't it make sense to rest the 36-year-old for a night?

On Wednesday, the Lakers play on the second night of a back-to-back on the road against the second best team in the Eastern Conference. One would think giving a tiring and aging superstar a night off would make sense under the circumstances. With or without Bryant, a loss is the most likely outcome against the Wizards.

Providing Bryant a night off on Wednesday would, conceivably, allow the shooting guard to rest for two days and regain his footing for Friday's rivalry game.

With or without Bryant, Friday offers a winnable game against the rival Boston Celtics. Having a refreshed Bryant, the Lakers would have a strong probability of beating a Celtics' team that has lost seven of nine games at home this season. Ultimately, two wins on a three-game road trip would be another successful roadie for LA.

More in line with the real world, Bryant will probably treat and rest his body throughout the night, sleep into the afternoon and show up at the game. Then, against Washington, the Lakers will try to beat the odds with a supremely talented but incredibly fatigued superstar.

Worth pointing out, the Wizards beat their last visitors, the Miami Heat, by 21 points. That was on Monday. On Wednesday, the Lakers visit the Wizards, but no. 24 should consider taking a night off.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Beat Pistons in Detroit]]> Tue, 02 Dec 2014 18:58:10 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Pistons-12-2.jpg

After 42 minutes on Sunday, an exhausted Kobe Bryant skipped the team's shootaround on Tuesday morning. When the ball went up, however, Bryant was on the court.

Bryant's fatigue showed early, but the Los Angeles Lakers held on for a 106-96 victory against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.

In the first quarter, Bryant committed three turnovers and missed three shots. However, he found a way to create for his teammates, and even his turnovers were examples of the superstar forcing passes to his teammates.

Veteran forward Carlos Boozer continued his trend of strong shooting early in games. The 33-year-old made four of his first six shots to log eight points in the first quarter. Off the bench, Nick Young came in to help Boozer carry the offensive load.

Young's knack for getting fouled in the act of shooting came in handy, and by halftime, the trigger happy sixth man had 10 points to his name. Wayne Ellington also helped pick up the slack off the bench, as the backup shooting guard notched six points in fewer than nine first-half minutes. He would finish with nine points for the game.

In a game that neither team led by more than five points in the first half, the Lakers came out and put together a strong third quarter. Bryant scored his first basket and then quickly reminded everyone he can score in a hurry. Bryant scored 12 straight points for the Lakers, and the visitors opened their lead to 21 points late in the third period.

Usually, the Lakers come out slow and fall apart in the third period. On this night, the Lakers outscored the Pistons 35-20 in the quarter. Bryant also hit the 10-assist mark in the third quarter, although that number was balanced by Bryant's six turnovers.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Lakers were up by 16 points and losing to a team that was on an eight-game losing streak would be difficult to imagine. The Lakers' bench started the quarter with energy and managed to keep the Pistons at bay. However, the lead dropped to 10 points just short of the halfway mark of the final period.

Immediately, Lakers coach Bryon Scott switched all five players and brought back his starters. With six minutes to play, the Lakers' starters had to hold a 10-point lead against one of the worst teams in the NBA.

Jordan Hill would make his presence felt with timely buckets down the stretch. He would get his 10th double-double of the season before the final buzzer. Hill finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds, which were team-highs in both categories.

Bryant would finish with a dubious triple-double: 12 points, 13 assists and 10 turnovers. Still, the Lakers won, so the players walked off smiling. The Lakers now have won two in a row and have won three of their last four road games.

Next, the Lakers will play on Wednesday night in Washington D.C. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers at Pistons: Preview]]> Tue, 02 Dec 2014 12:58:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-road-trip_12-2.jpg

On Tuesday in Detroit, the Los Angeles Lakers look to, once again, get their season on track.
Following up on an impressive victory over the Eastern Conference leading Toronto Raptors, the Lakers look to win their second game in a row. For the Lakers, the road has provided a more comfortable environment than home. The Lakers arrive at the Palace at Auburn Hills winners of two of their last three road games.

The Detroit Pistons are not a good team. They've lost eight games in a row and are one of the few teams that have misfired on their start worse than the Lakers. Shockingly, the Pistons have more losses and fewer wins than the Lakers.

Despite playing at home, the Pistons have lost their last three contests by an average of 11 points per game. Brandon Jennings continues to be the Pistons' leading scorer with 16.4 points per game, and players like Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond lay the foundation for a good team on paper.

With reserves like Caron Butler and D.J. Augustin, the Pistons should not be as bad as they are.
But based on their record, the Pistons are the worst team in the Eastern Conference not named the Philadelphia 76ers, who are still without a win.

For the Lakers, Tuesday night starts a three-game road trip that offers LA at least two good looks at victories. After the stop in Detroit, the Lakers will arrive in the nation's capital to play the Washington Wizards, who currently have a better record than the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Lakers should have a difficult time stealing that game.

"I'm going to be ready and get my guys ready and lead the road trip." a focused Kobe Bryant said on Sunday night. "I want to stay mad. It helps me play better."

The Lakers end their road trip with a rivalry game in Boston against the Celtics on Friday. The Celtics have as many wins as the Lakers, so that is a winnable game.

On Tuesday, the Lakers and Pistons tip off at 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[In Context: Kobe Bryant's Triple-Double]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 16:37:14 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_Kobe-Bryant-Triple-double.jpg

On Sunday night, Kobe Bryant registered the best performance of the 2014-15 season by any player.

On a historic note, Bryant became the first NBA player to score more than 30,000 points and pass off more than 6,000 assists. Asked about it after the game, he said he did not know he was about to make history but managed to take a sly shot at his critics: “It means I pass more than people say.”

As is often the case, Bryant hit the mark with skill and style. At 36 years of age, he recorded the 20th triple-double of his career. In doing so, Bryant also became the first 36-year-old to have a 30-point, 10-rebound and 10-assist game.

Forget the 36-year-old bit for a moment. How many players in the game at any age can hit those marks against an elite NBA team that consistently sends double teams designed to thwart the player's impact on the game?

To date, only four NBA players have recorded triple-doubles in the 2014-15 NBA season. Notably, all four of those players were point guards: Michael Carter-Williams, Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry.

Bryant's final box score was the most impressive in the set: 31 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds. Further, he recorded a block and only committed two turnovers. Also, he made 11 of 24 shots he took. To date, no player in the 2014-15 season has performed at this elite of a level in any game.

To provide context to how much more impressive Bryant's triple-double was than the other four players to have achieved the worthy mark this season, three of those guys--Paul, Lowry and Rondo--only scored 13 points in their special trifecta games. Bryant scored 14 points in the final 11 minutes of the game on Sunday, includes five minutes of overtime: i.e. game-winning time.

Carter-Williams was the only other member of the triple-double club to score over 13 points, as he logged 18 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds on Saturday. However, Carter-Williams committed five turnovers on that night, shot a poor percentage (31 percent) and his team lost the game. Bryant's 31 points on 46 percent shooting, including clutch baskets late in the game, easily beat Carter-Williams' memorable night.

So, this all leads to the same question: How is Bryant, who is not on a maximum level contract, considered overpaid? Something doesn't seem quite right with the current salary cap system, as Bryant appears to be punished for getting older and still retaining his ability to perform at a high level.

But that is an argument for another day. For this day, one should simply smile that a certain 36-year-old messed around and got a triple-double.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[When Lakers Win, Nick Young Stars]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 10:55:42 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Nick-Young-returning-Lakers-at-Hawks.jpg

When the Los Angeles Lakers win a home game, the locker room seems like one of the happiest places on earth, and in large part, that is due to Nick Young's infectious and positive personality.

In the Lakers' first home win since Young came back on the team, the man who calls himself "Swaggy P" hijacked the occasion and left teammates and reporters smiling.

As Young walked from the showers to his locker, he passed by Wesley Johnson doing an interview with Time Warner Cable. Still not dressed, Young stuck his face in front of the camera and talked about his screen on Johnson's big three-pointer in overtime. Then, he began to chide his teammate about an air ball before making mention of his own air ball. This was all before Young even got dressed.

When the time came for the camera to focus on Young, he did not disappoint. For starters, he spoke about his parents meeting the parents of Iggy Azalea, his girlfriend. Then, Young spent a moment with a smaller crowd of reporters and joked that he would have 46,000 points in his 20th year. In his 19th year, Kobe Bryant had just hit the 32,000-point mark, and on the night, Bryant had become the first NBA player in history with 30,000 points and 6,000 assists.

NBCLA.com quickly chimed in and asked Young how many assists he would have. After a reporter suggested "one" and laughed, Young said, "probably 100."

"First player to have 100 assists in 20 years," Young laughed at himself.

Although Young only has five assists for the 2014-15 season, he has a total of 521 assists for his carerr. Then, Young hit NBCLA's camera with the highlight of the night (video above):

"What I need (Bryant) to do is just keep looking for me," Young cracked a smile as he turned to NBCLA.com's camera. "Ya'll tell Kobe to pass me the ball or there's going to be problems."

To cap off the display, Young put up both fists like he was set to fight Bryant.

It may have been Bryant's night on the floor, but it was definitely Young's night in the locker room.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bryant Sets New Mark Against Raptors]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 09:58:30 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Raptors-Kobe-Bryant-record.jpg

On Sunday night, Kobe Bryant set another record against the Toronto Raptors in a rare Los Angeles Lakers' victory at Staples Center.

Against the team that he famously torched for 81 points, Bryant recorded his 6,000th NBA assist. With a pass to Wesley Johnson in the second half, he became the first player in NBA history to have 30,000 points and 6,000 assists.

From the onset, Bryant appeared to have his mind set on passing the ball. He did not take his first shot until over eight minutes into the game. By that point, every other Lakers' starter had scored and "Kobe Johnson" already had four assists.

In the second quarter, Bryant and the Lakers would continue to attack with balance. By halftime, four Lakers were in double figures in points compared to only one player from Toronto hitting that mark. At that point, Carlos Boozer led the way with 12 points, but Jordan Hill, Nick Young and Bryant were close behind with 10 points a piece.

In the third period, the Lakers continued their trend of coming out flat. Bryant would play all 12 minutes of the quarter, but even an inspired and historic night by one of the greatest ever could not turn around the Lakers' third quarter woes. The Raptors cut a nine-point halftime deficit to only one point entering the fourth quarter.

With the game on the line, Bryant came back in to take charge. As much as this night would be remembered for Bryant's career of passing, the fourth quarter and overtime would go down as one of Bryant's vintage game-winning performances.

Down the stretch, no. 24 scored eight points, including a memorable baseline fadeaway jump shot. Bryant would also dish out a crowd-raising assist to Young for a three-pointer that gave the Lakers a four-point lead with less than a minute and a half to play. However, a three-point play for the Raptors would quickly set the game up for an exciting finish.

In the thrilling final couple minutes of regulation that included two head-scratching missed free throws from Bryant, the Lakers got the ball back with 13 seconds to play in a tie ball game. Bryant attacked the rim and got contact, but he did not earn a foul call. The buzzer rang, and the Lakers and Raptors went to overtime.

In the overtime, Bryant would continue to attack offensively. Again, though, he went to the foul line and missed. Bryant would straighten out the free throw issues after that first miss and his free throws started dropping. He continued to demand the ball, receive the ball and score the ball. Bryant scored six crucial points in the overtime period, so he had 14 points in the fourth quarter and overtime period.

Also, Bryant notched the 20th triple-double of his career when he grabbed a rebound late in overtime. Bryant finished with 31 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds. The Lakers went to 4-13 on the season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Byron Scott Hints at Lineup Changes]]> Sun, 30 Nov 2014 16:54:40 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LakersRaptospreview_1200x675_365368387921.jpg Byron Scott hinted in near certain terms that the Lakers' lineup would have changes coming its way ahead of the Lakers hosting the Raptors on Nov. 30, 2014]]> <![CDATA[Lost Lakers Welcome Raging Raptors]]> Sun, 30 Nov 2014 16:59:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Raptors-11-30-14.jpg

The Toronto Raptors have as many wins as the Los Angeles Lakers have losses.

The Lakers are the worst team in the Western Conference, and the Toronto Raptors are the best team in the Eastern Conference. However, the Lakers face the Raptors following a rare loss.

In the process of losing by four points to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, the Raptors also lost star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan to a torn left adductor tendon in the game. The Compton native led Toronto in scoring with 19.4 points per game, so he will be sorely missed.

"I feel sorry for the young man because he's a hell of a basketball player," Lakers coach Byron Scott said after hearing the news on Saturday.

Fresh off a loss and missing their top scorer, the Raptors hobble into Staples Center to play a team that has only won once in nine homes games. Even without arguably their best player, the Raptors have to be heavy favorites because the Lakers have been unable to display any spine on their home court.

Sunday morning, Scott said changes were on the horizon.

"I'm much more aware in my mind that I'm going to be making some changes," the coach admitted. "I said (to guys yesterday), 'I think the game gets in your way sometimes. You're already thinking what you're going to do after the game.' And that's a big problem...the lack of focus there was so obvious."

Scott continued, "I'm also starting to think about how short the leash is getting and when is the appropriate time to make those changes. Because, like I said, in my mind right now, it's going to happen."

The coach confirmed that he did not anticipate making the changes for Sunday night's game against the Raptors, but his patience was wearing extremely thin.

"I've always been patient for some reason," Scott said. "I always say, 'It's a little bit like Novocaine: just give it some time. It'll start working. Just like Novocaine, it wears off too.' So does your patience."

If the Lakers come out with the same lack of focus they displayed in Friday night’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the game could get ugly. Toronto is an elite team tied with the Memphis Grizzlies for the best record in the NBA.

If the Lakers come out with focus and intensity, fans may be reaching for their own supply of Novocaine on Sunday night.

The Lakers and Raptors get started at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Notes: Scott said he spoke to Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak about bringing in a new player due to the numerous injuries, but the two decided to wait another week, as the team will hit the road on Monday and not have practice time to integrate a new body. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Scott Says Lakers Looked Worse on Film]]> Sat, 29 Nov 2014 15:46:38 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Byron-Scott-Angry-11-17-14.jpg

One day later, Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott said the loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves didn't look any better.

"Matter of fact, it looks worse," Scott said on Saturday in El Segundo. "I mean, seriously, you sit there in person and watch it, and you know it's pretty bad, but when you go home and you watch it again...you know I found myself shaking my head a lot of times while I was having my nice little drink of something."

One would have a difficult time arguing with the Lakers' coach having a drink, or two or three.

"I said, 'let me watch it again in the morning,'" Scott said. "It didn't look much better this morning either."

At one point, a reporter jokingly asked the coach if he was considering suicide with a team that had only won three times in 13 games.

"No one ever has to talk me off the ledge," Scott laughed. "If you ever hear me committing suicide, I got murdered."

Scott added, "I might kill (my players), but I'm not going to kill myself."

When asked about the defense that allowed 120 points, the coach said he did not have anything further to add to what he had spouted the night before. The coach said he did not show his team the footage. Instead, he talked to them about what he saw.

"Just got to move forward," Scott explained. "It is what it is. Right now, we're the worst team in the West. Simple as that, and that's what the record shows."

Not quitting on the challenge though, Scott added, "I think we're a better basketball team than what we're playing or what our record indicates, but it doesn't matter unless we show that on the floor."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Coach Angry After Loss To T-Wolves]]> Sat, 29 Nov 2014 02:43:01 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Lose-to-T-Wolves.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers suffered a demoralizing defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night at Staples Center after Kobe Bryant missed a last second shot that would have won the game. In addition, Bryant missed a pair of free throws late in the game, but he had seemingly redeemed himself with a fall away jump shot that tied the game with 5.6 seconds to play.

On a night when the Lakers would give up 120 points, 5.6 seconds was too long to focus and play defense for the purple and gold.

After the game, Lakers coach Byron Scott could not contain his frustrations and let loose.

"(We weren't) ready to play: bunch of mental mistakes; bunch of physical mistakes," Scott said. "We looked at them as if they were inferior to us."

To carry this point home, Scott painted a picture and dropped an expletive in the process.

"(Have) you ever been to the zoo?" Scott asked a reporter. "Do you ever go see the gorillas, the elephants, the lions and moneys, and they're looking right back at you? That's what Minnesota was doing. They were looking right back at us. There's no one in the F&$% (slams table repeatedly)--nobody in this league that we should be thinking this is an easy win. Period. This team is young, they're going to play hard, they won't stop and we have to continue to play for 48 minutes and we have to be focused."

The Lakers weren't focused, and the coach was irked in a major way. He said only two or three guys had focus, and Bryant was one of them. Asked to name names, the coach balked and said he did not throw players under the bus like that.

Although Bryant finished with 26 points, five steals, five assists and five rebounds, he also missed four free throws. In a game that was decided by one point, each one of those missed foul shots will likely haunt the Lakers' superstar--along with the miss at the buzzer.

As much as Bryant could be blamed for the loss, he played a balanced game and shared the basketball. He only took 18 shots. The game was lost on the defensive end, and the Lakers' coach was clear about that fact.

"We talked about what we were going to do, change wise, at halftime," Scott said his team lacked focus. "We come out, they run the same play three straight times, we had to call timeout and remind the players what we were doing at halftime, and they act like we've never said it before. So, like I said, the only thing I can attribute that to is lack of focus. Not ready to play. Simple as that."

Scott said he provided the players "fair warning" in the morning, before the game, at halftime and after the game, but the team did not execute the game plan. According to Scott, the Lakers thought the game would be an easy victory, and it quickly turned into a frustrating loss.

"I don't know," Scott responded when asked if his players felt the same frustrations as their coach. "They weren't thinking tonight, obviously, so I have no idea what they're thinking right now."

Although his frustrations were boiling over, Scott still managed to maintain the slightest bit of optimism.

"We just keep working," the coach said. "Sooner or later, you get tired of getting the crap beat out of you, and you start manning up and doing what you're supposed to do. You can't play good hard-nosed basketball one night and then look at the opponent the next night, 'oh, we got an easy one tonight.'"

Scott added, "It doesn't work that way in this sport. You get your ass kicked doing that—excuse my language."

Notes: Former UCLA Bruin Zach LaVine scored 28 points, which was a career high for the rookie. LaVine only missed three shots and terrorized the Lakers with his hot hand. Jeremy Lin scored 18 points and had 11 assists (season high in assists). Iggy Azalea was court side watching her boyfriend, Nick Young, playing. Young scored 16 points on six of 12 shooting but committed a critical foul with 2.8 seconds left in the game. The Lakers have lost eight of nine home games this season. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Home Against T-Wolves on Friday]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 09:41:34 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-desperate-for-win.jpg

While Americans all over the country were watching the Detroit Lions beat down on the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving day, the Los Angeles Lakers were hard at work at their practice facility in El Segundo, Ca.

Lakers coach Byron Scott gathered his team before noon in Los Angeles with the hopes to get in necessary work ahead of the arrival of the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on Friday night.
While home may be a happy place for most, home has been horrible for the Lakers.

After Wednesday's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers have lost seven of their eight games at home during the 2014-15 season. That is shockingly poor by any standards. Remove the Lakers' home record, and they're 2-5, which would be a 23-win team. Include the home record, and the Lakers are on pace for 16-win season.

Exactly one month into the season, the Lakers can only count one victory on their home court, and that victory came against the Eastern Conference's third worst team: the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets, incidentally, have a 1-7 road record.

Whether or not the 2014-15 season is dead on arrival, this team needs to grow a spine and put forward performances that represent LA. Wearing the purple and gold expresses pride in Los Angeles, and at the moment, the Lakers aren't doing LA proud.

For the people of LA, 84-degree weather in November makes it difficult to get too upset, but if the Lakers don't start winning games soon, the mood at Staples Center will feel icier than Alaska in January. What does that feel like exactly? Well, remember the 48-point lost to the Clippers a season ago?

On a positive note, the 2014-15 Lakers don't look like they'll lose by 50 points to anyone, but they need to win sooner rather than later.

On Friday, The Minnesota Timberwolves offer the perfect opportunity. The T-Wolves have only won one road game in six tries. At 3-10, Minnesota has as many wins as the Lakers, and most recently, the Timberwolves lost to the Milwaukee Bucks by 17 points in Minneapolis.

To say the Lakers are better than the Minnesota Timberwolves is not a reach. Kevin Love is gone, Ricky Rubio is out injured and the team is starting two rookies. The Timberwolves rank in the bottom-third of the league with regards to turnovers per game. Also, Minnesota averages the fewest three-point attempts per game, 14.9, and that's another massive positive considering the Lakers' defense allows the second most three-point makes in the league, 10.2.

On Sunday, the best team in the Eastern Conference comes to Staples Center, and after that, the guys take off on a three-game road trip. To say a game in late November is a must-win may sound insane. With that in mind, for the psyche of this team and the fans at home, Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves is a must-win for the Los Angeles Lakers.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Grizzlies Spoil Lakers' Thanksgiving]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 01:29:51 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Grizzlies-11-26-14.jpg

The last place Los Angeles Lakers lost 99-93 to the first place Memphis Grizzlies in an exciting contest on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

When the bottom team in the Western Conference faces its opposite number, one would expect a blood bath. However, the Lakers played hard defense and spread the basketball around. Kobe Bryant did not even attempt a shot in the first quarter, yet the Lakers led after 12 minutes.

At the half, Bryant had eight points on only four shots, but the Lakers led by five. The Lakers were able to compete due to strong contributions from nearly every player who stepped on the court. Ten Lakers had scored at least one basket by halftime.

In the third quarter, however, the Lakers failed to take care of the basketball and lost their defensive fortitude. In the quarter, the Lakers went from seven points up to seven points down in the blink of an eye. Grizzlies' center Marc Gasol scored 12 in the period to help the Grizzlies outscore the Lakers 34-23 in the quarter. Gasol would finish with 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, three blocks and two steals.

The Grizzlies' record combined with Gasol's box score made it easy to understand why Gasol is considered an early MVP candidate.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Lakers trailed by six points, and Bryant had scored an efficient 18 points on only 10 shot attempts. He had willingly shared the basketball, and his teammates had stepped forward to keep the Lakers close. Also, hitting seven of 11 three-pointers until that point helped the Lakers' cause.

In the fourth quarter, the Lakers pushed the Grizzlies but were unable to take the lead. Halfway through the quarter, the Lakers were only down by two points, but the Lakers were unable to level the game or take the lead due to too many wasted possessions.

Down the stretch, the Lakers again cut the lead to one possession when Nick Young was fouled in the process of taking a three-pointer. Young, who continued to struggle with his shot for the third game in a row, managed to hit all three of his foul shots to bring the Lakers within three points with a little over two minutes remaining in the game.

Time and again, the Lakers came away with empty possessions and were unable to erase the Grizzlies' lead.

Over 48 minutes, the Lakers never trailed by more than seven points, but when the final buzzer sounded, the Grizzlies won their 13th game of the season and the Lakers lost their 12th game of the season.

Lakers coach Byron Scott still put on an optimistic face after the game: "The thing that I like right now is the fact that we keep competing and that our defense has gotten better."

The Lakers will hold practice on Thanksgiving morning before taking on the Minnesota TImberwolves on Friday night.

Notes: Lakers coach Byron Scott sat Bryant at the end of the first and third quarters and brough him back a few minutes into the second and fourth quarters in an attempt to rest the 36-year-old. Bryant only attempted 15 shots and scored 22 points. Backup point guard Ronnie Price had his best outing of the season with 11 points and five assists.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Host Grizzlies Wednesday Night]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:35:46 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Carlos-Boozer-back.jpg

The Memphis Grizzlies (12-2) come to Staples Center on Thanksgiving eve tied with the Toronto Raptors for the best record in the NBA. The Los Angeles Lakers (3-11), in sharp contrast, have only won one home game four weeks into the season.

On paper, Wednesday night could turn ugly as one of the worst teams in the NBA hosts, arguably, the best team in the league. However, these teams met in Memphis about two weeks earlier, and the Grizzlies squeaked out a narrow victory. In LA, the story could easily have a different ending.

With rumors blazing that former Lakers forward Earl Clark could be on his way back to the team in the wake of Xavier Henry's torn Achilles, the injury headline has, once again, taken a strangle hold of the purple and gold.

In a rare twist, the Lakers received positive news on their walking wounded on Wednesday morning. In the days leading up to Wednesday's game, forwards Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis were struggling with shoulder and ankle injuries, respectively. However, both appear to have recovered and should be available on Wednesday night.

"They went through shootaround," Lakers coach Byron Scott said on Wednesday morning. "They both moved pretty well, so I take it that they'll both be available tonight unless something drastically changes in the next seven, eight hours."

The coach confirmed that Boozer would return to the starting lineup. Davis started for the Lakers against the Denver Nuggets, but the 25-year-old forward had trouble staying on the court and fouled out in only 22 minutes. Davis, who has been a standout off the bench, continues to lead the team in field goal percentage.

Although Boozer may not be a defensive stalwart at age 33, the veteran big man put together a string of positive performances prior to sitting out a game with the shoulder injury. On the Lakers' recent three-game road trip, Boozer averaged 14.7 points on 52.5 percent shooting from the field.

Scott also expanded on his approach of resting star shooting guard Kobe Bryant in between games. On Wednesday morning, the coach said that he made sure Bryant did not take part in any physical activity in the hopes that his body will be able to sustain through the latter part in games.

The Lakers and Grizzlies tip off at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Speaks Out About Ferguson]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:46:40 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-37-shots.jpg

When Kobe Bryant speaks, people generally take note. Bryant has championed many social causes including homelessness, so no one was surprised when Bryant voiced his outrage over the situation in Ferguson, Missouri.

After a night of unrest across America in the wake of the decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, Bryant took to social media early Tuesday morning.

 

 

Asked to speak more on the situation following Tuesday's Los Angeles Lakers practice, Bryant expressed a thoughtful response.

Bryant started, "It's such a higher level of conversation to have in terms of the legal justice system and how the laws are written and how the way the system is written gives the ability for [Wilson] to get off from these types of situations under the guidelines of the law."

Bryant, who visited the family of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin after he was shot unarmed by George Zimmerman, is no stranger to the type of tragedy Michael Brown's family was experiencing.

"You could sit here and argue about it until we're blue in the face. Protest about it," Bryant expressed frustrations. "But until we have a serious legal system conversation, it's going to keep on happening."

Bryant was not entirely confident his words would have any impact, but that didn't stop him from making his points.

"I don't know if it helps or not," Bryant said. "But I have an opinion and I'm not bashful to use it. I don't know if it helps or not. We all have opinions. If I feel a certain way about something, I'm more than willing to say it."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Practice Report: Kobe's Tired Legs]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:36:48 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Lakers-practice-11-25-14.jpg

"Today was a very good spirited practice. I love the way the guys came to work today," Lakers coach Byron Scott said on Tuesday.

One player who did not take part in most of Tuesday's practice was 36-year-old Kobe Bryant. The coach was attempting to rest his superstar in between games to get more out of the shooting guard on game days, specifically late in games.

"We want to see this week if these two days of rest can really benefit him tomorrow," Scott said. "We'll find out the next three games. We'll get a pretty good idea of what we need to do after these three games to see if we have to give him a little bit more rest, see if we have to give him a couple more minutes off."

For the first time, Scott brought cutting Bryant's minutes into the public conversation. However, it took the aging superstar faltering late in games for that discussion to even become a possibility.

"We're just trying to figure it out," Scott continued. "He's played 19 years. He knows his body better than anybody. But we could see also watching the tape everything was a tad short, which tells me the legs were a little fatigued."

To his credit, Bryant was not stubborn about admitting his legs felt heavy at the end of games.

"The second half of games for me has been a struggle lately,” Bryant told reporters after Tuesday's practice.

He said that he would work on a different strategy of strengthening his legs during the season, which was, admittedly, uncharted territory for a 36-year-old of his caliber.

Beyond the personal adjustments, Bryant was also adamant that the Lakers were better than their record, citing a few close games that did not end with favorable results.

"We're not a 3-11 team. We’re not,” Bryant said. "We just stick with the process. We had a tough loss against Denver. We'll just get right back on our horse and try to put ourselves in position to win tomorrow."

Bryant also touched on the Achilles injury Xavier Henry suffered at Monday's practice. Henry had successful surgery on Tuesday morning, and Bryant admitted that being present when a teammate suffered the same injury that forever changed the trajectory of Bryant's career hit close to home.

"I knew exactly what he was feeling. It took me back to that place again," Bryant said. "It's an uphill battle. It's a long hill at that. But he'll have us and he'll have me every step of the way."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Being Over-Used?]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:02:48 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Kobe-Bryant-minutes.jpg

Through 14 games of the 2014-15 NBA season, Kobe Bryant has played 40 or more minutes three times. On average, Bryant is playing 36 minutes per game, which is pretty high considering his age: 36 years.

Lakers coach Byron Scott has repeatedly stated that he's not concerned about Bryant's minutes because the coach is providing his star player star treatment in between games. More often than not, Bryant does not practice the day after a game. When he was ill, Scott told Bryant to stay home from game-day shootaround and just come to the game.

"It prompts me to give him more days off, if anything, so I can keep it in the 30-40 range," Scott said at Monday's Lakers practice.

Scott's hope is to keep his aging shooting guard fresh for games by cutting the practice time, so one should not expect Bryant's game minutes to drop in the near future.

Obviously, Scott's approach does not match the constantly lauded handling of aging players by the San Antonio Spurs. During the 2013-14 season, Manu Ginobili, who was 36-years-old at the time, averaged only 23 minutes per game. Back when Tim Duncan was 36-years-old, he only averaged 30 minutes per game. The Spurs, however, have a reputation of being the best in the business when it comes to controlling minutes.

Dirt Nowitzki, who is a couple months older than Bryant, is averaging only 28 minutes through 15 games in the 2014-15 season. Despite being the Dallas Mavericks' star player, the team is working to preserve its star by controlling his minutes. Over an 82-game season, Bryant is on pace to play about 650 minutes more than Nowitzki, which amounts to about 13 and a half 48-minute games.

Byrant's competitive spirit is the driving force that makes it difficult to take him out of games. Unbelievably, he would be averaging even more minutes if the Lakers had not fallen behind by so great a margin that a frustrated Bryant had to grab a seat on the bench for the conclusion of games on multiple occasions.

Scott, however, is doing his best to preserve his star in practice, so on Tuesday, the coach will give the 36-year-old time off for the second day in a row. After all, Bryant played 44 minutes in Sunday's loss to Denver.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Henry Has Probable Achilles Rupture]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:03:23 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Xavier-Henry-ruptured-Achilles.jpg

At Monday morning's LA Lakers practice, 23-year-old guard Xavier Henry likely ruptured his Achilles tendon, as the Lakers were again hit hard on the injury front.

The Lakers cut practice short after the incident, and the mood at Monday's session was even more somber than one would expect on the heels of an overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Henry left the Lakers' facility in a boot and on crutches and was expected to go to directly to have an MRI to confirm the rupture.

"Obviously, it brought practice straight down," Lakers coach Byron Scott said. "It was just 3-on-3. He just made a move like most guys do when they mess up their Achilles. Nobody hit him or anything like that. He went down and pretty much said to us he head a 'pop.'"

Scott added, "Obviously, he was devastated."

Following knee surgery and wrist surgery, Henry was a bit player for the Lakers under Scott, but he was still working to return to the levels of play he exhibited in his first season with the team.

During the 2013-14 season, Henry averaged 10.0 points in 21.1 minutes of play. Being a spot player and still working his way back into the rotation, Henry appeared in only nine games and averaged 2.2 points per game.

The Lakers have not yet set a timetable on Henry's recovery, and the team would be expected to reach out to the NBA for emergency relief, as the Lakers now have three players who could easily miss the remainder of the season: Steve Nash, Julius Randle and Henry.

Scott concluded, "[We'll] go home tonight and we'll say a prayer for Xavier and the rest of the guys that we have that are injured."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hanley Ramirez Signs with Red Sox: Report]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:37:29 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/163*120/han+ram.jpg

Free agent shortstop Hanley Ramirez is in Boston Monday to reportedly finalize a five-year, $90 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports

Also, according to CBSSports.com, the deal came together by Ramirez’s willingness to play other positions including the outfield.

Ramirez decided to hit the free agent market instead of accepting the Los Angeles Dodgers $15.3 million qualifying offer earlier this month. He also leaves a gaping hole at shortstop that the Dodgers will have to fill through free agency if they’re looking for a player to make an immediate impact. 

The 30-year-old ends a productive, but injury plagued, two-plus years in a Dodgers uniform after joining the club in a 2012 trade with the, then, Florida Marlins. Ramirez compiled splits of .299/.365/.512 with 43 home runs and 172 RBIs as a Dodger. He also finished eighth in MVP voting after the 2013 season as the key cog on that team’s 42-8 run and an NL West Division title.

Ramirez returns to the organization that signed him as a 16-year-old out of Samana, Dominican Republic. He made his Major League debut with the Red Sox as a 21-year-old in 2005.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Falter Late, Lose in Overtime]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 23:34:40 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Kobe-Bryant.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers failed to capitalize on a golden opportunity and fell to the Denver Nuggets in an overtime loss on Sunday night at Staples Center.

"It was ugly. I mean, they shot terrible. We shot terrible," Lakers coach Byron Scott said. "If you win it, it's not that ugly."

The reason they didn't win was tough to swallow.

"Defensively, we did a pretty good job all night long," the defensive-minded coach said after the game. "[It was] definitely tougher to take [this loss]. The effort was there, and the things that we talked about yesterday were all there."

Scott said, "We just kind of blew it, basically, at the end."

The "end" Scott was likely referring to was the end of regulation rather than the overtime. Time and again, the Lakers allowed Kobe Bryant to take the ball in his hands and attempt to go one-on-one in isolation against an opponent. Bryant, who was 6-10 for 16 points through the first three quarters, went 3-11 for seven points over the final nine minutes of regulation. The Lakers only scored 11 points in the quarter and gifted the Nuggets an overtime session.

To be fair, Denver did not fare much better. Although they distributed their shots, the Nuggets only scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.

In the overtime period, Nuggets' point guard Ty Lawson put on the jets and scored four points to finish the night with 18 points and 16 assists. The entire Lakers' team only racked up 15 assists. Former UCLA Bruin Aaron Afflalo also added four points in the extra session, as the Nuggets made four shots in overtime, and the Lakers made two shots in overtime.

Bryant was 4-14 after going into isolation mode down the stretch and in overtime, but Coach Scott persisted that the team got good shots but just did not make them. The problem, of course, was that the team was not involved in most of those shots. Despite having Jeremy Lin on the court, Bryant would accept the in-bounds pass in the back court, make his way into the front court and look to shoot. That was the Lakers' offense down the stretch, and frankly, the results were pathetic.

Lin, who finished with 17 points on 15 shots, had a respectable outing and shot over 50 percent from the field. In the third quarter, the point guard did not miss a single shot, going 5-5 and scoring 11 points. As a reward for his hot hand, Lin only managed two shot attempts in the fourth quarter. On several possessions, the point guard did not even touch the basketball.

"We kind of got away from things...just sharing the ball," Lakers guard Nick Young said after the game. "At times, we fall into relying on [Bryant] a lot."

Young did not overtly blame Bryant for the loss, taking blame for "standing around" and not demanding the ball. Young, however, was likely not in the best position to "demand" the ball considering the streaky shooter missed 10 of his 12 shots on the night.

Still, this loss stung more, and Young summarized the feelin: "We felt we had this one tonight. We just let it slip up."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Take on Nuggets Sunday at Staples]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 14:08:23 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant_Lakers-at-Mavs_11-21.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers (3-10) return to their home court Sunday after a three-game road trip that offered more positive signs than negative. Welcoming the Lakers back home are the Denver Nuggets (5-7), who have won three games in a row.

After starting the season 1-6, Brian Shaw's Denver Nuggets have won four of their last five games including impressive wins at Cleveland and at Indiana. Arriving at Staples Center on the heels of a 20-point victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, the Nuggets are not a team to be taken lightly.

After losing to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night, the Lakers returned home and practiced on Saturday. Kobe Bryant, Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin all skipped the Saturday session due to various ailments.

On Sunday morning, Lakers coach Byron Scott updated the statuses of all three players. According to the coach, Bryant was definitely back, which was to be expected. Lin, who had a sore back, said he was good to go.

"In the game against Dallas, I just kind of got hit awkwardly," Jeremy explained Sunday morning. "It'll be alright for tonight."

After having an MRI on Saturday, Boozer, however, had more of a question mark hanging over his head. The coach confirmed that the shoulder was not a new issue with Boozer, but the veteran forward had been able to fight through soreness earlier in the season.

Scott confirmed that if Boozer was unable to go, the contingency plan was straight forward: "Ed Davis will start."

Scott said Davis provides the Lakers with "a little bit of everything." Davis leads the team in shot blocks and field goal percentage. The coach pointed out that Denver's big men like to run and play physical, so regardless of whether Davis starts, he will be crucial for the Lakers getting their third win in the last four games.

"I think if he starts, he'll be fine," Scott said about Davis.

The Lakers and Nuggets tip-off at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Lose to Mavericks 140-106]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 14:00:55 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Mavericks_Getty_11-21-14.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers lost big in Dallas on Friday night, as the Dallas Mavericks led by such a margin that the Lakers emptied their bench after three quarters.

The lead was 27 points by then. It would be even bigger at the final buzzer.

In the first half, the Lakers stayed within reach of the Mavericks despite Kobe Bryant and Nick Young missing their first 12 shots from the field. Recognizing his shot was not falling, Bryant focused on creating and tabbed six assists before halftime.

At the intermission, the Lakers trailed by nine points.

The Lakers kept the Mavericks within sight due in large part to standout performances from Jordan Hill and Jeremy Lin. The starting duo combined for 24 points on 10-12 shooting in the first half. 

However, the Lakers' defense never turned up, and the purple and gold allowed 68 points in the first half. In the third quarter, everything got worse, and the Mavericks scored 42 points in a quarter.

Dallas' third quarter was offensive excellence and defensive destruction. Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons combined for 33 points, as the Mavericks only missed four shots over those 12 minutes. Dirk Nowitzki made both of his shots in the quarter to bring his total to 23 points on 8-10 shooting. The giant German would grab a seat having played fewer than 22 minutes.

Bryant, on the other side of the court, would play over 31 minutes and finish with 17 points, seven assists and five rebounds. He missed more shots than Nowitzki attempted.

With 27 points separating the sides after three quarters, the final 12 minutes were a scrimmage for each team's bench players. Even there, the Lakers lost.

As far as positives to take away from Friday's game, Hill finished with his seventh double-double of the season and was perfect from the field, 7-7. Also, Lin finished with 18 points and five assists and shot a high percentage, 73 percent. Looking at the 34-point deficit and the final score, the Lakers lost this game on the defensive end of the court.

At the final buzzer, the score read 140-106 in favor of the Mavericks. The Lakers finished their road trip 2-1.

Notes: Wayne Ellington re-joined the team and was not expected to play. However, with the game out of reach, Ellington played 12 minutes and scored eight points.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Coach Explains Lineup Philosophy]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:12:10 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/La-Lakers-Boozer-Lin.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers have won a couple games in a row, and the plan for the 2014-15 season is clearer to see than it was two wins ago. The Lakers started 1-9, but even if this is period of winning is a temporary euphoria from having Nick Young back, the team is displaying more promise than the 1-9 start hinted.

The Lakers are not an eight-win team or close to it. At 3-9, they're on pace for 20 wins, but even that mark would be a massive underachievement considering the Lakers' recent road trip.

With two games in the bag and a clean sweep of a three game road trip in his sights, Lakers coach Byron Scott deserves credit for sticking with the same unit through the best and worst of times. Also deserving praise, starters Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin have responded positively to the coach's confidence after inconsistent starts to the season. Both played well in Atlanta to start the current winning streak.

While Scott has stuck with the same starting lineup since the start the season, fans have wondered why Ed Davis has not cracked the starting five or how Ronnie Price was not inserted into the lineup when Lin was visibly struggling to get involved. In particular, both those players offer better defense that their counterparts.

Luckily, NBC Los Angeles and a couple others caught Scott a day before he took off on the three-game road trip and asked the coach to provide greater insights into his lineups.

Within the context of Ronnie Price starting much of the preseason, had Scott internally gone back and forth with starting Price and moving Lin to bench?

"I've thought about it. So far, it's not the time."

On why he hadn't made changes to the starting lineup despite the slow start:

"Because, then, I'm abandoning everything that I believe in as far as giving these guys a chance to work together. Ten games or 11 games--that's not enough. So, then, I'll be going against everything that I truly believe in. I think guys need time to jell as a unit, and again, two months is not enough, three months is sometimes not enough...San Antonio have been together forever."

How long in an 82-game season before you can start make changes?

"Two or three months, from training camp on. After that, I think you might have to make changes because certain guys aren't getting it or they just don't gel, and you have to make some changes, put those guys on the bench. They may be better coming off the bench than they are starters. All those things, I have to take into consideration, but I have to give these guys a chance as well."

Less than a month into the season, Scott made it clear not to hold your breath on changes to the Lakers' starting five: Lin, Bryant, Wesley Johnson, Boozer, Jordan Hill.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Add to Bullpen in Four-Player Trade]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:34:27 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/peralta+copy.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers took their first step this off season to fixing a problematic bullpen by adding veteran right-handed reliever Joel Peralta in a four-player trade with the Tampa Bay Rays Friday.

The Dodgers also received minor league pitcher Adam Liberatore in exchange for pitchers Jose Dominguez and Greg Harris.

The Peralta acquisition is not exactly a long-term solution for the Dodgers, as he’ll be 39 years old when Spring Training starts in 2015.

Peralta also didn’t exactly light the world on fire last season with his 3-4 record and 4.41 ERA. What the 10-year big league veteran has done, however, is become more durable with age. Peralta has pitched in an average of 74 games and 67 innings per season since tuning 35 years old.

The Dodgers are definitely looking into the future by adding Liberatore to the trade.

It’s not clear if, or when, or how, the 27-year-old will fit into the mix on the big league team but he just finished up his best season in 2014 with a 6-1 record and 1.66 ERA for the Rays Triple-A Durham squad. He was named the organization’s top minor league reliever.

Dominguez, 23, pitched in just five games for the Dodgers in 2014, giving up eight earned runs in 6 ⅓ innings. The hard throwing right-hander suffered through shoulder inflammation toward the ends of last season.

In two minor league seasons with the Dodgers Harris, 20, was 9-9 with a 4.69 ERA. He finished the 2014 year with Class-A Great Lakes.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Look to Sweep Roadie in Dallas]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:52:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Mavericks-Kobe-Dirk-Nowitzki.jpg

On Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Dallas Mavericks to conclude a road trip that will be viewed as a success regardless of what happens at the American Airlines Center. The Mavs lost three of their first seven games, but Dallas has won five straight entering Friday night.

Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki have been splitting Dallas' scoring load this season with Ellis averaging 19.7 points per game and Nowitzki averaging 19.1 points per game. Ellis is coming off a 34-point outing against the Washington Wizards, but the 36-year-old Nowitzki was drawing praise for hitting a big three late in the game.

On the subject of 36-year-olds, Kobe Bryant still leads the NBA in scoring with 27.5 points per game. In Houston, he scored 29 points and logged 40 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back. At this point, the on-court evidence makes it impossible to question the shooting guard's condition and recovery from major injuries.

Bryant may be the ringleader, but he has help.

Jordan Hill has already collected six double-doubles through 12 games this season. In particular, Hill has been finishing games with put-backs and offensive rebounds that have been crucial in winning games. With 4.7 offensive rebounds per game, Jordan Hill leads the NBA. Also, the big man's jump shot started falling again, and Hill appears comfortable in the Lakers' offense.

If Hill has been finishing strong, Carlos Boozer has been doing the opposite. Boozer has been aggressively scoring the basketball early in games before trailing off a bit in second halves. Against Houston, Boozer struggled mightily in the third and fourth quarters. With Hill and Boozer taking turns offensively, the Lakers appear to be developing a formula for success.

The Lakers' biggest asset at the moment--excluding Kobe Bryant--is Nick Young. The lively personality has drawn significant attention for entering a team locker room that was bordering on toxic and changing it into a happy environment where guys started having fun again. Most importantly, Young's return has resulted in two wins straight wins.

The Lakers and Mavericks tip-off in Dallas at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Notes: Steve Nash and Julius Randle remain sidelined for the remainder of the season. Ryan Kelly is out due to a torn hamstring. Wayne Ellington returns after missing six games due to a family tragedy.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Add to 40-Man Roster]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:52:05 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/178*120/lee+copy.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers, Thursday, added pitchers Zach Lee and Chris Reed and outfielder Scott Schebler to the organization’s expanded 40-man roster.

What that does is make all three, technically, Major League players and even if they are assigned to a minor league club, which is the most likely scenario, it moves their names up the list of potential call ups to the 25-man Major League team should they be called upon.

Lee, 23, ended this past season in Triple-A Albuquerque with a 7-13 record with a 5.18 ERA and is rated by Baseball America as the Dodgers fourth-ranked prospect.

The right-hander was the team’s top pick in the 2010 draft and named the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year in 2013. With the Dodgers bullpen still in need of a makeover, it’s quite possible Lee could be in the running for a long reliever spot come Spring Training.

Reed finished last season with a 4-11 record and a 4.26 ERA between stops in Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Albuquerque. The 24-year-old also made the all-star team as part of the Lookouts.

The minors are for development not numbers but Reed’s 9-31 record and 4.12 ERA in four minor league seasons is a bit of an eyebrow raiser.

Schebler is rated by MLB.com as the Dodgers ninth-best minor prospect and he’s proved it on the field. Schebler has shown that he’s a legitimate power hitter by blasting 28 home runs in Double-A in 2014, after hitting 27 the year before in the High-A California League. But, just like a power hitter Schebler strikes out way too much. He’s whiffed 250 times in the past two seasons combined.

At 24 years old Schebler is at the age when teams decide if a player will be part of the future, or a placeholder for the next crop of younger talent.

Schebler will have a shot to show what he’s made of in 2015 with his new promotion.

The Dodgers now have 39 players on their 40-man roster.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>