Lakers in the News 12/07/15 - 12/13/15: Why Julius Randle has struggled in the Lakers' last two games
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 2:07 am    Post subject:

What are the odds the Lakers will be able to keep their 2016 first-round pick?
by Eric Pincus - latimes.com

At just 3-18, the Lakers have the second-worst record in the league, ahead of just the 1-21 Philadelphia 76ers.

With 61 games left in the season, the focus for many Lakers fans will be on the 2016 NBA draft, already with a number of high-level potential prospects emerging, such as forwards Ben Simmons (Louisiana State), Brandon Ingram (Duke) and Jaylen Brown (California), guard Kris Dunn (Providence), and big men Skal Labissiere (Kentucky) and Dragan Bender (Maccabi Tel Aviv).

The catch for the Lakers, they only keep their 2016 first-round pick if it's a top-three selection.

In 2012, the Lakers sent their 2015 selection to the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash, with top-five protection. The Suns have since moved that pick on to the 76ers, to acquire guard Brandon Knight in a three-team trade with the Milwaukee Bucks.

When the Lakers won the 2015 second-overall pick in May's draft lottery (taking guard D'Angelo Russell), their obligation to the Sixers shifted to 2016 with reduced protection.

If the Lakers do not get the first, second or third selection, they lose the pick altogether. Conversely, if the Lakers successfully get through the lottery on May 17, they will owe their 2017 first-rounder to Philadelphia, also with top-three protection.

In 29th place overall, the Lakers currently have a 55.8% chance of staying in the top three, with 19.9% odds at the first pick, 18.8% for second and 17.1% for third.

Should the Lakers continue to struggle, actually overtaking Philadelphia with the worst overall record, their odds would improve to 64.3% for a top-three selection (25.0%, 21.5% and 17.8%).

http://www.latimes.com/sports/lakers/lakersnow/la-sp-ln-lakers-odds-first-round-pick-2016-20151208-story.html
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 2:08 am    Post subject:

NBA Draft 2016: Simulating Lakers' Lottery Chances in Week 6
by Cody Williams - lakeshowlife.com

Simulating and analyzing the Lakers’ chances of winning the 2016 NBA Draft Lottery and keeping their pick


Whether Byron Scott will choose to admit it or do anything to help the process along, the Los Angeles Lakers are in the midst of a huge rebuilding project. That’s been evident with two lottery picks in the past two NBA Drafts that turned into Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell, respectively.

However, the rebuild is far from over as the development of those young players is key right now. If that’s happening or not is an entirely different issue in its own right, but developing a core of players for the future is one of the chief concerns for the Lakers this season. Arguably, the other major focus of the Lakers is the 2016 NBA Draft and what will happen with their first-round pick.

At 3-18, it’s really no secret at this point that the Lakers are going to be in the lottery. However, as the Lakers’ first-round pick belongs to the Philadelphia 76ers if it falls outside of the top-three. With a prospect from a loaded draft class likely being at stake, it’s safe to say that the Lakers front office and the fans desperately want to keep that pick and add another high-end prospect, be that Ben Simmons, Skal Labissiere, or someone else.

Subsequently, it seemed like a good idea to simulate the NBA Draft Lottery process and do so throughout the season to see what happens with the Lakers pick. Does the No. 1 overall pick fall to Los Angeles? Do they have to settle for No. 2? Do they even get to pick in the first round at all?

http://lakeshowlife.com/2015/12/08/lakers-2016-nba-draft-lottery-chances/
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:05 am    Post subject:

Lakers Road Back to Relevance: The 2016 Draft Class
by Anthony Yassa - lakeshowlife.com

In recent years, the one thing the Lakers front office has done quite well is choose players in the draft.

Although the first and second entries in this series have emphasized areas in which the organization has behaved rather foolishly, it is hard to argue with the success they have had in the draft. Many fans would have preferred Jahlil Okafor over D’Angelo Russell, but his defensive shortcomings and off-court issues are making the Lakers choice seem increasingly wise.

Selecting Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson in last year’s draft was a huge success, and the players selected more recently have showed promise as well. Unfortunately, the Lakers don’t have many more picks to work with, with two of their next three first-rounders likely being sent elsewhere.

For a team struggling its way to a 3-18 start, keeping their pick this year is absolutely critical to their future success. This will only happen if the pick falls within the top three in the draft lottery. Without this pick, the Lakers outlook becomes far more bleak, with little opportunity for significant improvement in the off-season.

Because of this, a mid-season trade to acquire either draft picks or young players would be a wise move on the part of the Lakers. Moving players like Lou Williams or Brandon Bass for long-term assets could put the team in a much better situation moving forward.

Still, the most important part of the off-season remains the fate of the Lakers pick. For the purposes of this article, it will be assumed that the Lakers will retain their pick and select in the top three of the coming draft.

This article will break down the players who would be in consideration to join the Lakers, and will examine their fit with the team as well as their potential short-term and long-term impacts on the franchise.

http://lakeshowlife.com/2015/12/08/lakers-road-back-relevance-draft/?utm_source=FanSided&utm_medium=Network&utm_campaign=Trending%20on%20FS
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 10:19 pm    Post subject:

D’Angelo Russell - Kobe Was ‘Coaching’ Through Last Shot In Overtime
by Ryan Ward - lakersnation.com

The Los Angeles Lakers lost their 19th game of the 2015-16 NBA season on Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center, but a considerable amount of progress was made on the basketball floor. Rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell came into his own leading the team late in the game with some clutch shots down the stretch.

One key element to Russell’s success on the floor on Wednesday was having Kobe Bryant watching and coaching from the sidelines in the fourth quarter opposed to playing alongside him. Bryant didn’t play a minute in the fourth quarter and watched the rookie flourish in the leadership role with the game on the line.

The Lakers may have fallen short in overtime to the Timberwolves, but Russell was soaking up the knowledge while running the show in the fourth quarter and overtime. On TWCSportsNet, Russell said Bryant was coaching through the process in overtime via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:

D’Angelo on last shot in OT: "Kobe was coaching me thru it the whole time he was just saying you’ve got that mid-range whenever you want it"

Russell’s play in the fourth quarter was impressive to say the least. The rookie kept the Lakers alive in the final period and ultimately forced overtime with a game-tying shot over Andrew Wiggins.

http://www.lakersnation.com/dangelo-russell-kobe-bryant-was-coaching-through-last-shot-in-overtime/2015/12/09/
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 10:22 pm    Post subject:

Why Minnesota’s Towns is a big fan of Lakers’ Russell
by Mark Medina - dailynews.com

The bond started when D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns first squared off as high school phenoms. It continued when they lived together last summer and swapped stories about their NBA pre-draft workouts. And it has evolved as this year’s No. 1 pick (Towns) has traveled a different path than the No. 2 selection (Russell).

The Lakers (3-19) enter Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves (8-12) at Target Center with Russell averaging 10.9 points on 40.6 percent shooting, 4.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 27.4 minutes. He also will play a reserve role for the second consecutive contest.

“The one thing I know about D’Angelo Russell is he is a team player and he just wants to win,” Towns said. “He wants to win at everything. He’s willing to do whatever it takes for his team to win.”

Towns enters the same game averaging 14.8 points on 52.8 percent shooting (second among rookies) and 9.1 rebounds (first among rookies) in 27.8 minutes per game. He will start at center with superior post moves and a dependable 3-point shot, while learning under a future Hall of Famer (Kevin Garnett).

“He’s in a great position. He’s with vets over there,” Russell said of Towns. “He looks good. It looks like Garnett has taken him under his wing.”

Through Towns’ emergence and Russell’s struggles, the two have maintained a steady dialogue. They congratulate each other on breakout games. They console each other when they experience rookie hiccups.

http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20151208/why-minnesotas-towns-is-a-big-fan-of-lakers-russell
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 10:24 pm    Post subject:

D'Angelo Russell forces overtime and Kobe loves it (video)
by Drew Garrison - silverscreenandroll.com

D'Angelo Russell had a big game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, capped off by taking Andrew Wiggins off the dribble to force overtime. Kobe Bryant was loving watching his young teammate take over, putting the cherry on top of his 13-point fourth quarter.

It's probably a good day when Kobe's beaming ear-to-ear and greeting you with a jump:

http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2015/12/9/9883220/la-lakers-dangelo-russell-overtime-highlight-minnesota-timberwolves
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:20 am    Post subject:

After Benching D’Angelo Russell And Julius Randle, It’s Time To Hit Eject Button On Byron Scott
By Dave Schilling -
12/09/2015

If you had “20 games” in the “When will Byron Scott finally bench D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle” office pool, congratulations. I have no idea why your office is running such a ridiculous contest, but kudos to you regardless. We have now reached what I like to call the Ejector Seat moment of the season: In a James Bond film, 007 often uses an eject button to escape a particularly hairy situation. In Goldfinger, Bond ejects one of the titular villain’s henchmen from his Aston Martin DB5. In GoldenEye, Bond ejects himself from an exploding helicopter. Those two options are the same ones we face as Laker fans. At this moment in the season, we can either eject the bad guy or we can eject ourselves.

http://www.lakersnation.com/after-benching-dangelo-russell-and-julius-randle-its-time-to-hit-eject-button-on-byron-scott/2015/12/09/
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:25 am    Post subject:

Lakers' success had its start in Minneapolis
by Sid Hartman - startribune.com

Kobe Bryant made his final regular-season appearance at Target Center on Wednesday night with the Los Angeles Lakers against the Timberwolves. Having the former Minnesota franchise in town brought back a lot of memories from when I was involved with Ben Berger and Morris Chalfen, and they bought the Detroit Gems in 1947 from owner Morris Winston for $15,000.

Max Winter joined the ownership group after the franchise was acquired and named the Minneapolis Lakers.

It’s amazing to see how the NBA has become such a major enterprise — signing a nine-year, $24 billion TV deal just over a year ago — when back in the late ’40s, professional franchises were based in cities such as Sheboygan and Oshkosh, Wis., and even the Tri-Cities of Moline and Rock Island, Ill., and Davenport, Iowa.

In those days, the newspaper sports staff made little salary, so editors allowed them to hold outside jobs in public relations. I was allowed to be involved with the Lakers.

The team might still be here if they’d had their own place to play. It was more important in those days for the Minneapolis Auditorium to schedule events such as the Sportsmen’s Show, the Builders Show and other types of entertainment to take over the building and bump aside the Lakers.

Great success

The Lakers won one Basketball Association of America championship and four NBA championships from 1949-54, playing in the Minneapolis Armory and the St. Paul Auditorium when the Minneapolis Auditorium was booked. I remember how Gophers athletic director Frank McCormick made sure the Lakers couldn’t play in Williams Area by persuading the Big Ten to pass a rule prohibiting pro teams from using Big Ten facilities at the time.

And I had made a deal during the 1955-56 season with Red Auerbach of the Boston Celtics, after most of those early great Lakers stars had retired, that would have sent Vern Mikkelsen to the Celtics for former Kentucky players Frank Ramsey, Cliff Hagan and Lou Tsioropoulos, who all were in the service at Andrews Air Force Base at the time.

If that trade had happened, the Lakers would have finished last and been able to draft legendary center Bill Russell, who was set to graduate from the University of San Francisco. My agent on the West Coast, Cal basketball coach Pete Newell, had Russell all set to come here, something Russell wrote in his books. Russell himself called Lakers big man George Mikan, who Russell had met in high school, his childhood hero after his father.

But the deal fell through, and the Celtics — drafting second after the Rochester Royals took guard/forward Sihugo Green of Duquesne — picked Russell.

Mikan, who revolutionized the game by becoming the NBA’s first great center, recently had his rookie basketball card sell for $403,664 in an auction. That’s how important Mikan was and continues to be to NBA fans.

Continued....
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 3:04 pm    Post subject:

D'Angelo Russell finally got a chance from the Lakers, and showed how good he can be
by Jesus Gomez - sbnation.com

Russell hasn't had a great rookie year but he showed flashes of excellence in the Lakers' loss to the Timberwolves.

D'Angelo Russell, the second overall pick in the 2015 draft, has not had a great start to his career. He is playing for an old-school coach who has been more inclined to go with veterans instead of developing a rookie whose game is predicated on taking risks. His playing time has fluctuated and his confidence has waned. As a result, Russell has been the least impressive top five pick in a draft class that is looking very strong.

For one night, however, everything clicked. Against the Timberwolves on Wednesday, Russell showed off the shot-making ability and court vision that had him climbing draft boards during his sole year in college.

His 23 points on 20 shots don't look special but the way he got them was. He hit tough pull-up after tough pull-up despite being guarded by solid defensive players like Ricky Rubio and Andrew Wiggins and came through in the clutch after finally being given the responsibility to take the last shot.

With that leaner he sent the game to overtime, where the Lakers would ultimately lose. Final scores are not really all that important in Los Angeles right now, not after a slow start killed their playoff chances. Finding out if Russell is someone they can build around is what the rest of the season should be about, and the game against the Timberwolves suggests he is.

His late-game heroics weren't the only reason for optimism. In smaller, less flashy plays, Russell proved he can carry an offense as a ball handler. He had three assists in the fourth quarter. Two of those proved he has tremendous potential a playmaker on the pick-and-roll.

Continued....
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:48 pm    Post subject:

Julius Randle and D'Angelo Russell's play forced Byron Scott to play them down the stretch
by Harrison Faigen - silverscreenandroll.com

The Lakers' hoped for dynamic duo of the future gave some glimpses of what their takeover could look like.

It doesn't take much these days for head coach Byron Scott to rile up fans of the Los Angeles Lakers, but not even the fans most aggravated with him could have foreseen his latest move. Scott benched the team's two most recent lottery picks, Julius Randle and D'Angelo Russell last Monday against the Toronto Raptors, an experiment he says will continue over the next 5-10 games. The Lakers' two youngest players were understandably upset about the move, with Russell telling Baxter Holmes of ESPN that Scott had yet to explain what he was doing wrong so he could correct it.

Russell and Randle were left with two choices: they could feel sorry for themselves, or they could put their heads down and play. "You can't worry about things you can't control," Randle told reporters, as transcribed by Serena Winters of Lakers Nation. "[D'Angelo Russell and I] have been talking back & forth constantly. We know what we mean to this team."

Randle says he and Russell knew what they meant to the Lakers, and in the teams' Wednesday night loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the two showed it. Russell and Randle debuted an age old solution for players unhappy with being benched: they played so well that their coach could not take them off of the floor. Russell dropped 3 desperately needed assists, all of which came in the fourth quarter along with 13 of the rookie guard's career high 23 points. Russell played well enough to get the chance to play some good old fashioned hero ball, going toe to toe with Wolves' guard Andrew Wiggins and coming away with a bucket to send the Lakers to overtime:

Continued....
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:50 pm    Post subject:

How do Lakers balance Kobe farewell tour with young players?
by Mark Medina - dailynews.com

The journey Kobe Bryant traveled has sparked varying emotions.

The Lakers’ 37-year-old star has winced as he fights Father Time. He has frowned as his shots fall short. He has smiled amid the nostalgia over a storied 20-year NBA career.

“I’m genuinely appreciative of it,” Bryant said. “I must’ve done something right through these 20 years.”

The journey D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson traveled have sparked varying emotions, too.

The Lakers’ crop of young players have watched their legendary teammate’s farewell tour in awe. Russell and Randle have weathered frustration amid a diminished role. All three have wondered how they can sync their talents with Bryant’s commanding presence.

“It’s been tough,” Randle said. “We’re trying to balance out how we’re going to play with each other.”

That presents the Lakers (3-19), who play Friday against the San Antonio Spurs (18-5) at AT&T Center, with an issue that no tribute video or farewell speech will address. How do the Lakers nurture Bryant’s attempt to write his last chapter, while preparing for Russell, Randle and Clarkson to write their first?

“You’re trying to balance that as much as possible,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “There’s always going to be challenges with that.”

Scott initially provided a heavy workload for Bryant, who is averaging 15.9 points on 30.9 percent shooting. Scott also has had Randle and Russell come off the bench in the last two games despite those players representing the Lakers’ NBA lottery picks in the last two years.

But a potential turning point emerged in the Lakers’ overtime loss to Minnesota on Wednesday. At his own suggestion, Bryant sat after the 3:56 of the third quarter. Russell and Randle then closed the game out, both logging more than 30 minutes and combining for 43 points.

“He’s trying to help these guys as much as possible,” Scott said of Bryant. “That was great on his part to suggest doing something like that.”

But as much as the Lakers gushed about that moment, will this mark a turning point in how they weigh Bryant’s experience and the potential of their young players?

“I don’t know,” Russell said softly.

Continued....
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 2:03 am    Post subject:

lakersfreak wrote:
D'Angelo Russell finally got a chance from the Lakers, and showed how good he can be
by Jesus Gomez - sbnation.com

Russell hasn't had a great rookie year but he showed flashes of excellence in the Lakers' loss to the Timberwolves.

D'Angelo Russell, the second overall pick in the 2015 draft, has not had a great start to his career. He is playing for an old-school coach who has been more inclined to go with veterans instead of developing a rookie whose game is predicated on taking risks. His playing time has fluctuated and his confidence has waned. As a result, Russell has been the least impressive top five pick in a draft class that is looking very strong.

For one night, however, everything clicked. Against the Timberwolves on Wednesday, Russell showed off the shot-making ability and court vision that had him climbing draft boards during his sole year in college.

His 23 points on 20 shots don't look special but the way he got them was. He hit tough pull-up after tough pull-up despite being guarded by solid defensive players like Ricky Rubio and Andrew Wiggins and came through in the clutch after finally being given the responsibility to take the last shot.

With that leaner he sent the game to overtime, where the Lakers would ultimately lose. Final scores are not really all that important in Los Angeles right now, not after a slow start killed their playoff chances. Finding out if Russell is someone they can build around is what the rest of the season should be about, and the game against the Timberwolves suggests he is.

His late-game heroics weren't the only reason for optimism. In smaller, less flashy plays, Russell proved he can carry an offense as a ball handler. He had three assists in the fourth quarter. Two of those proved he has tremendous potential a playmaker on the pick-and-roll.

Continued....


Good article. But how was DLo least impressive amongst top 5 picks before this game? That includes Hezonja. Stuff people write for dramatic effect.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 7:44 am    Post subject:

Jordan Clarkson will get a hefty raise in off-season, almost certainly from Lakers
by Mike Bresnahan - latimes.com

Despite all the chaos that's rammed into the Lakers, Jordan Clarkson has remained their steadiest player.

He can score, with accuracy no less, and he's got a determined, make-it-happen mind-set.

He's also one of the keys to the Lakers' off-season, a slightly complicated piece of the gigantic cash pie available to them next July.

Kobe Bryant's $25 million will be off their books and Roy Hibbert's $15.6 million too. Add the league-wide salary-cap increase from $70 million to about $90 million and you have a spending party for a team with only seven players under contract for 2016-17 at a combined $26.3 million.

But Clarkson will get a big raise as a restricted free agent after making $845,000 this season. The possibilities are many because he's a second-round draft pick who received a two-year contract when the Lakers plucked him out of obscurity with the 46th pick in 2014.

The Arenas provision was created because Golden State was unable to match Washington's offer in 2002 to Arenas, a second-round draft pick whose career was on the rise after only two NBA seasons. Golden State was hamstrung by the salary cap, so Washington was able to pry him away.

Teams with enough salary-cap room can give Clarkson a max of $57.8 million over four years or $34.1 million over three years. Clarkson can sign an offer sheet with only one team, which the Lakers have the option of matching.

Or the Lakers could swoop in before he starts talking to other teams and offer a four-year contract up to $88.9 million. That would obviously get a deal done but would be a lot of money for a promising player whose primary accomplishment so far was making the NBA all-rookie team.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 7:46 am    Post subject:

As Long as Lakers Are Terrible, Scars from the Chris Paul Trade Veto Remain
by Josh Martin - bleacherreport.com

Want to piss off a Los Angeles Lakers fan? Or perhaps you'd like to make one of them cry, curse loudly or stare blankly into the abyss. Just say these two words:

"Basketball reasons."

Those were the words used to explain the NBA's controversial rationale for nixing a 2012 trade that would've sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to the Houston Rockets and Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a 2011 first-round pick to the-then New Orleans Hornets.

As Vice Sports' Bethlehem Shoals explained, then-commissioner David Stern's veto, while stunning in many ways, was in the best interest of a league lacking parity, in the wake of a five-month lockout intended (in part) to curb superstar consolidation:

Anyone can mash together All-Stars and win some games. It's far more difficult to build a team that drums up interest in the sport. This was Stern's vision for the NBA and while he may have all been robbed us of some transcendent basketball in Los Angeles—and been a total assh--e about it—it's hard to argue with the results.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 7:48 am    Post subject:

Breaking down how D'Angelo Russell broke down the Spurs top ranked defense
by Harrison Faigen - silverscreenandroll.com

Digging in to Russell's performance against San Antonio.

The Los Angeles Lakers lost again on Friday night, but for the second consecutive game the team received a moral victory in the form of a breakout performance from their 2015 second overall pick, D'Angelo Russell. Jordan Clarkson's ankle injury allowed Russell back in to the Lakers' starting lineup and he delivered, setting a career high in scoring for the second consecutive game with 24 points and tying his career high of 6 assists.

"Coach is really giving me the opportunity to just lead by example," said Russell. "I've always had confidence. That's something I've never lacked. It's just about opportunity." Opportunities are something Russell has (finally) had plenty of in the Lakers last two games.

Russell's usage rate (a measurement of what percentages of the Lakers' plays end in him scoring, assisting, drawing a foul, or turning the ball over) sits at 22.6, second on the team but trailing Kobe Bryant's monstrous 29.6 usage rage by 7%. Over the last two games, however, Russell has been given the reins to the offense and posting a 33.9 usage rate as a result. He has also increased the percentage of his teammates baskets he assists on from 20.6% to 23.1%, baby steps towards becoming the playmaker the Lakers hope he can become.

"If somebody's open just get them the ball," said Russell when describing his in-game playmaking thought process. "If it's a clear shot to attack, I got to do it. I'm starting to figure out how to create a pace to the game that forces everybody to play with you."

Russell is creating that pace with two skills he has brought to the table since game one: rebounding, and the ability to ignite the fastbreak off of those rebounds. The 6'5 pulled down six boards against the Spurs, and used them to get the Lakers out in transition and quickly into their offense, like on the three plays in this gif:

Continued....
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 7:50 am    Post subject:

Confidence is showing in D'Angelo Russell's play
by Mike Bresnahan - latimes.com

D'Angelo Russell was in the starting lineup Friday because of Jordan Clarkson's sprained right ankle. Maybe he'll stay there this time.

The rookie broke the 20-point barrier a second consecutive game, totaling 24 points, six assists and six rebounds in the Lakers' 109-87 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

He didn't shoot particularly well (nine for 23) and still got erased too easily on screens while playing defense, but there was too much progress to overlook.

He was sent to the bench earlier this week by Coach Byron Scott after starting the team's first 20 games.

“You've got to build that relationship with your coach and know that you're a rookie coming into this league, but you didn't get here on accident. Once I get that trust from my coach, I know I'll feel like I'll have that opportunity more and more,” Russell said. “Guys are starting to see that [Scott] knows what he's doing a little bit. I think it will only just get better.”

Maybe Russell will steal Lou Williams' starting spot when Clarkson returns in a couple of games.

“He's put together two really, really good games,” Scott said. “The next step really is consistency. The trick is doing this for a week, two weeks, a month.”

Scott said he hoped Russell would be entirely comfortable with the NBA game by the All-Star break.

Continued....
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 7:51 am    Post subject:

D’Angelo Russell shows growth in loss to Spurs
by Mark Medina - insidesocal.com

His head kept shaking back and forth. Lakers rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell sounded confused over something that had nothing to do with a complex playbook or defensive rotations. It had everything to do with Russell trying to process that Lakers coach Byron Scott would feature the team’s No. 2 draft pick as a reserve.

“Hopefully, I can look back at this and laugh at it,” Russell said.

Four days later, Russell easily could have as he reclaimed his starting point guard spot. It wasn’t because Scott suddenly had second thoughts on his lineup. It was because Lakers second year guard Jordan Clarkson became unavailable after spraining his right ankle.

But Russell quickly latched onto what he once lost. In the Lakers’ 109-87 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday at AT&T Center, Russell posted career-highs in points (24), shooting clip (9 of 23, 5 of 10 from 3-point range), assists (six) and minutes played (37).

Afterwards, Russell provided more answers on that growth, a stark contrast to his initial confusion four days earlier on his previous demotion.

“I’ve always had confidence,” Russell said. “That’s something I’ve never lacked. It’s just about opportunity. I’ll keep preaching until the end of the year. It’s opportunity.”

Russell did not always receive the opportunity he craved.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:43 pm    Post subject:

No One Saw It Coming: Kobe Bryant Saved Lakers… By Benching Himself
by Trevor Lane - lakersnation.com

The 2015-2016 NBA season has been trying for Los Angeles Lakers fans, and this week has been no exception. The team is off to a 3-19 start and while Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour has been dripping with nostalgia, his play on the court has been a reminder that Father Time doesn’t lose. His errant shots and disappearing defense have resulted in Kobe having the lowest PER of his career by a wide margin and with him playing major minutes (30.9), the losses are piling up.

To make matters worse, head coach Byron Scott appears to be hell-bent on ripping away the one thing keeping Lakers supporters afloat — hope for a better future. Fans have largely settled into a “losing is fine, as long as the kids play” mentality, which is indicative of a knowledgeable fan base that understands the complexities of rebuilding.

Still, fans in Los Angeles (and worldwide) live and die with the Lakers, and the past few seasons of futility have left them emotionally exhausted. Losing Bryant to retirement after the season ends compounds things, as he has achieved demi-god status among the Laker faithful and has been the team’s security blanket for much of the past 20 years. He may not be the player he once was, but there is still hope within the bastion of Lakers fans that Bryant’s minutes and role could be reduced in order to preserve the aging star, which would also give the young players some room to spread their wings.

With Bryant’s efficiency issues, injury history, and the young players’ need for minutes, the Lakers seem primed for a “Kevin Garnett” scenario. The long-in-the-tooth Garnett is averaging just 16.1 minutes in Minnesota, so that the like of Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng, and Nemanja Bjelica can do the heavy lifting.

Byron Scott, however, had different ideas. Much to the chagrin of just about everyone following the Lakers this season, Scott decided that while change was indeed needed, it wouldn’t be Bryant’s minutes or role that shifted. Instead, Scott chose to do the unthinkable and removed D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle from the lineup.

Lakers Nation responded by doing a synchronized facepalm and then blasting the internet with a level of rage that even Bruce Banner would suggest is unhealthy.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:45 pm    Post subject:

TDIKH: December 12, 2005
by nba.com

When needed in the fourth quarter, Kobe Bryant simply delivered.

Trailing by one with 34.9 seconds left, Bryant swished a contested fadeaway 3-pointer to put the Lakers up for good in their 109-106 victory in Dallas.

Just minutes before, Bryant, who finished with 43 points, hit a triple to tie the game up at 97 after L.A. had trailed for nearly the entire quarter.

“It’s hard not to shoot the ball when you can make shots from everywhere,” Lamar Odom told reporters after the game.

Indeed, Bryant fired at will, going 15-of-33 from the field and 10-of-12 at the foul line to counter 27 points and 15 rebounds from Dirk Nowitzki.

Bryant began the game a steaming 8-of-11 from the field. He dropped 27 points in the first half alone, while saving nine more for the fourth quarter.

Bryant also collected five rebounds and four steals, while Odom (15 points, 11 rebounds) helped the Lakers shoot 50.0 percent.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 7:19 am    Post subject:

Kobe's new less-is-more approach is working
by Baxter Holmes - espn.go.com

There has been a shift, a very noticeable one, involving Kobe Bryant. Earlier this season, the 37-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star was firing contested jumpers at a staggering rate, and he was missing at a staggering rate, too.

It seemed as if Bryant was hell-bent on shooting himself out of a shooting slump, but it wasn’t working. Father Time was winning, Bryant was losing, and far too many of his contested jumpers kept hitting nothing but air.

Earlier this week, in fact, Bryant, who’s retiring at the end of this season, his 20th in the NBA, was shooting a career-worst 29.6 percent from the field, which put him on pace to become the first player in the shot-clock era to shoot less than 30 percent from the field while taking 15 shots per game. Clearly, something needed to change.

And something did.

In Monday’s loss to Toronto, Bryant scored 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting, his first game of 50 percent shooting this season. In Wednesday’s loss at Minnesota, Bryant scored 11 and sat out the fourth quarter, deferring to the Lakers’ promising young players. In Friday’s loss at San Antonio, Bryant scored 12 points and again played limited minutes. Similar story in Saturday’s 126-97 loss to the Houston Rockets.

In those four games, Bryant averaged 14.3 shots versus the 17.9 he attempted before then. But it’s more than just embracing a less-is-more approach; it’s about taking better shots, and he is doing that while avoiding the awful ones.

In Saturday’s defeat at Toyota Center, Bryant finished with 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting in 31 minutes. It was his first game shooting at better than 50 percent this season, and it was just another example of how the Lakers star is picking his spots more carefully.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 7:20 am    Post subject:

TDIKH: December 13, 2007
by nba.com

Offensively, Kobe Bryant was left to carry the load against the defending champions, leading L.A. to a 102-97 victory over San Antonio by supplying 30 points.

Lamar Odom (15 points) was the only other Laker in double figures, but Bryant was all the purple and gold needed, as he shot 10-of-24 from the field and 9-of-10 at the line.

The Lakers opened the game a frigid 1-of-14, but they saved their shooting for the fourth quarter. After entering the final period tied, L.A. quickly went on a 23-9 run to take a double-digit lead.

With Tony Parker and Tim Duncan sidelined due to sprained ankles, the Spurs nonetheless held a 13-6 advantage in 3-pointers, and Bruce Bowen racked up 22 points (8-of-13).

But the Lakers nonetheless picked up their fourth consecutive win, as they gave up half of San Antonio’s 16 turnovers.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 7:23 am    Post subject:

James Harden On Kobe Bryant: ‘I’ve Admired Him Since I Was Growing Up’
by Ryan Ward - lakersnation.com

The Los Angeles Lakers will end their eight-game road trip on Saturday against James Harden and the Houston Rockets. It will be the second-to-last time Kobe Bryant will face the Rockets at the Toyota Center in Houston with his last appearance set to take place on Jan. 17.

Harden, a Los Angeles native and admitted Laker fan as a kid, recently talked about the impact Bryant has had on his life and basketball career.

The three-time All-Star said the following about the five-time NBA champion via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

“Man, I’ve admired him since I was growing up,” Harden said. “Being a Laker fan and watching him, all the achievements and things that he accomplished, and how much of a warrior he is. The Kobe Bryant era is over. Obviously we all knew it was going to happen sometime, but for it to be here, it’s sad.”


Along with idolizing Bryant while growing up in Los Angeles, Harden appreciated the support Kobe gave him during the NBA playoffs last year. The veteran guard exchanged text messages with Bryant leading up to the Rockets facing off against the eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Kobe encouraged the up-and-comer superstar to leave it all out on the basketball floor, via Feigen:

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 6:09 pm    Post subject:

Why Julius Randle has struggled in the Lakers' last two games
by Harrison Faigen - silverscreenandroll.com

A move to the bench, a change in frontcourt partners, and better opponents have highlighted the weaknesses of the Lakers' young power forward.

One step forward and two steps back. It's more than just an old platitude, it could also serve as the title of the almost inevitable biography of the Los Angeles Lakers' 2015-16 season. Julius Randle and D'Angelo Russell are playing well, but get sent to the bench. Russell returns to the starting lineup, but only because of an injury to Jordan Clarkson, while Randle is left to suffer on the second unit.

"I'm ready to go home. I forgot what my house looks like," Randle told Bill Oram of the O.C. Register following the Lakers latest dispiriting loss, and he would be forgiven for admitting he had forgotten what one of his shots going through the net looks like as well. After a dominant game in Minnesota where Randle bullied his way to 20 points on 7 of 13 shooting, Randle has scored just 11 points on 5 of 20 shooting in the two games since. Part of this can be chalked up to the Lakers playing against two significantly more talented opponents in the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs, but both of those teams did a good job emphasizing Randle's current weaknesses.

What are those weaknesses? For one, Randle has difficulty finishing off of the dribble when opponents with length are able to keep up with his first step:

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 6:11 pm    Post subject:

Randle adjusting to life on Lakers' bench
by Bill Oram - ocregister.com

The Lakers young players are rarely eager to participate in postgame interviews. They take their time getting dressed, they adjust their jewelry. But on Saturday Julius Randle waved media over to his locker, hollering, “I’m ready.”

After playing his eighth game in 12 nights, Randle said, “I’m ready to go home. I forgot what my house looked like.”

Of all the Lakers eager to close the book on a 1-7 trip, Randle may be the most disheartened. After recording double-doubles in three of the first four games of the trip, he was moved to the bench and watched his productivity slide.

On Saturday, Randle missed eight of his 11 shots, finished with seven points and added 10 rebounds. He turned the ball over three times, and once again got into foul trouble.

“He just hasn’t played well the last couple of games,” Coach Byron Scott said. “Period. His energy hasn’t been the same.”

The criticism came on a night the Lakers current bench rotation – Randle, Robert Sacre, Nick Young, Marcelo Huertas – entered the game with a 25-21 lead in the first quarter, did not score a field goal for seven minutes and allowed the Rockets to go on a 30-4 run.

“That’s why I made the change with the first unit,” Scott lamented, “because the first unit was getting off to terrible starts. Now they’re getting off to real good starts and the bench is coming in and not sustaining. We just have to find that happy medium.”

When it was pointed out to Randle that he struggled both in Houston and a night earlier in San Antonio – shooting 5 of 20 for 11 points in the nights combined – he replied, “What did I do the previous two games?”

Indeed, Randle posted double-doubles in his first two games off the bench, losses in Toronto and Minnesota. But he acknowledged that he is still adjusting to his role as a reserve.

“It’s a different feeling,” he said.

What’s different?

“You sit nine, 10 minutes,” Randle said, “then you try to get in and you’re trying to feel out the flow of the game, playing with a different unit, different guys. Just trying to get used to it.”

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 6:13 pm    Post subject:

Byron Scott Rates D’Angelo Russell’s Progress
by Corey Hansford - lakersnation.com

Despite their sixth loss on this road trip, this one to the San Antonio Spurs, the progress of rookie D’Angelo Russell has been the biggest recent story, and that growth has not been lost on head coach Byron Scott.

Russell had another career night in San Antonio, totaling 24 points, six rebounds, six assists, and two steals in a team-leading 36 minutes.

After the game, Scott rated Russell’s progress to this point in the season, and had a favorable rating according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

Byron gave Russell a 7 out of 10 on his progress thus far. Byron said two or three weeks ago it was a 5

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