Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers 10/24/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Los Angeles Lakers looked to score a win Friday night when they faced the Sacramento Kings in a preseason clash. The Lakers were eager to prove that the combination of veteran superstar Kobe Bryant and rookie phenom Julius Randle was enough to keep them in contention but faced a tough test from a young Kings squad.

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7 Things We Can’t Wait to See During Los Angeles Lakers 2014-15 Season

The Los Angeles Lakers are not going to win an NBA championship this season.

They’ll be lucky to grab a spot in the playoffs and may even finish near the bottom of the league standings.

Surprisingly, though, the best thing about the Lakers of 2014-15 is not the NBA draft next summer. It’s the intriguing individual stories of players, young and old, rookies and veterans, who make up the current roster that will keep interest high.

There’s a first-round, lottery draft choice and a second-rounder with a chip on his shoulders who may push the veterans and bring the sort of youthful energy this Lakers team has been lacking for several seasons.

There are reclamation projects and unheralded, yet talented, journeymen who will have a golden opportunity to grow with this club or find themselves a new home elsewhere in the league.

What we won’t get to see this season is a legend in Steve Nash. Just this week, the Lakers and Nash agreed that his season on the active roster was over before it even started due to health reasons. Reached before his team’s final preseason game Friday night against the Sacramento Kings in Las Vegas, head coach Byron Scott said (via ABCNews.com):

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to coach him. Steve has always been one of my favorite people in the league because he’s such a professional, such a gentleman. Just like everybody else, I’m wishing him all the best.

The same sentiment needs to be conveyed to Scott, who takes over a team in transition with a number of question marks. Kobe Bryant and company may surprise us—they have nowhere to go but up.

 

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Not much to say as Lakers move on without Nash (Yahoo Sports)

When the Lakers traded four draft picks to sign Steve Nash, his new teammates couldn’t wait to talk about what might happen when Nash began distributing the ball to the likes of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. A day after Nash’s season – and possibly his career – ended before the regular season opener there wasn’t much said at all about the point guard who never played enough to make a difference in Los Angeles. We haven’t talked about it at all,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said Friday. You send out well wishes and then try to move on.” That didn’t mean Scott didn’t have some compassion for the 40-year-old Nash, who announced jointly with the Lakers on Thursday that he would miss his 19th season in the league because of a back injury.

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Los Angeles Lakers: Just retire, Steve Nash

In all honesty, this probably should’ve happened two years ago. 
Steve Nash’s tenure as a Laker has been an unproductive one marred by injuries.
Steve Nash had the option to retire after his last season with the Phoenix Suns in 2012. The team had just come off of a season where they went 33-33 in a lockout-shortened season and missed the playoffs for the second straight season. In the offseason that followed, the Suns made it clear that they were looking to go in a different direction and start a rebuilding phase. This would’ve been a perfectly good excuse for the man who had meant everything to their franchise to exit the league with grace. At that time, a then-37-year-old Nash boasted a storied career with the Suns and Dallas Mavericks, ranking in the top 10 in total career assists and boasting two consecutive MVPs from 2004-2006. That would’ve been a good point to call it quits, right?
Not for Nash. That offseason, he took his talents to Los Angeles. Months later, a seemingly competitive Big 4 w

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Sensational Rookie Season from Julius Randle Is What Los Angeles Lakers Need

In the middle of an ongoing rebuilding phase, the Los Angeles Lakers need certain things in order to have any success in a loaded Western Conference. One huge priority will be a sensational season from Julius Randle.

The Lakers suffered through their worst loss record in franchise history last season with a meager 27-55 record. Their consolation prize was the No. 7 pick in the draft lottery. When the big night arrived, they chose Randle—a hard-charging freshman power forward out of Kentucky.

The preseason has offered varying degrees of progress for the 6’9″ lefty, whether through strong inside work or leading a fast break like a runaway bull. It has been both promising and maddening.

Would you expect more from a 19-year-old before the regular season even begins?

Randle is drawing plenty of commentary from his first NBA head coach—at times positive, and in other instances, sharply worded.

After an early preseason loss, Byron Scott described the young rookie as follows, per Arash Markazi of ESPN LA: “I thought he was lost, in the first half especially.”

It is a story as old as sports itself—a tough-love coach and a headstrong, yet impressionable pupil. And in the end, we hopefully learn that the Los Angeles Lakers and Randle need each other in equal measure in order to succeed.

One is a grizzled coach who had to sweat three interviews and an extended wait to get hired by a team he used to play for. The other is a teenager who tends to scatter opponents like bowling pins.

Patience, young grasshopper—you have to learn where your place truly is in the basketball universe.

Scott isn’t the only one wielding both a stick and carrot—reigning franchise cornerstone Kobe Bryant has also been playing the part of the caring taskmaster.

Randle’s place is already becoming clearer—the headlong rushes are gaining control, and his jump shots are starting to fall. It appears that he wants to be more than a bull in a china shop.

As Mark Medina for the Los Angeles Daily News recently wrote, a lottery pick who was touted for his low-post moves is pushing the envelope in other ways:

For all the comparisons Randle has drawn to Memphis’ bruising power forward Zach Randolph, Lakers forward Ed Davis noticed that Randle has mirrored more of the modern version of Lamar Odom. Just as the former Lakers forward interchanged roles as a post player, facilitator and ball handler, Randle has provided the same job description:

‘It’s all about putting pressure on the defense when you can outrun the bigs and have the ball too. That’s what Coach wants me to do every time I get the rebound. I’m pushing the ball and making plays. I’ve been doing it my whole life so I’m comfortable with it.’

Much has been made of the Odom comparisons, but remember—the former Sixth Man of the Year was a chameleon in his prime. His full-court sallies occurred sparingly and when opponents least expected it. He spent long stretches setting up his teammates or concentrating on rebounding. His hesitation moves were a thing of beauty.

On Wednesday night during a win against the Portland Trail Blazers, Randle continued to show improvement with 17 points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes of play. More impressive than the total numbers was his efficiency, with 7-of-10 shooting and a nice mixture of interior play and end-to-end romps—this time at a less frenetic pace.

The second unit worked well together, with Jeremy Lin and Jordan Clarkson making their first appearances after missing several games due to sprained ankles and a calf strain, respectively. Ed Davis and undrafted rookie Roscoe Smith provided interior energy and glass cleaning.

After the game, Scott spoke about his young ward’s evolution, per Serena Winters of Lakers Nation:

I don’t think the kid has really ever had to play hard and I know he hasn’t ever had to work as hard as he’s had to this year. I still expect him to work harder but each game he seems to get a little bit better and that’s the progression that you want, and we all tend to forget that he’s 19. So, you’ve got to give him a little slack at times, even though I don’t, I should I guess.

With the start of the regular season looming, the obvious question becomes how much the Lakers need from Randle and how soon.

So far, the rookie is coming off the bench behind Carlos Boozer—the veteran frontcourt player and perennial starter who the Lakers claimed off amnesty waivers from the Chicago Bulls this season.

It’s likely that role will remain for now and that the young warrior’s lessons will continue unabated. Randle could well be the future of the franchise, but the powers that be don’t want to stunt his development through premature expectations.

Randle is where most young players are before they launch into their first regular-season games—a work in progress and untested when it counts in the NBA. But that doesn’t mean he can’t have a sensational rookie season, even if it’s filled with tough love and teaching moments.

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Los Angeles Lakers: Steve Nash Injury A Blessing In Disguise?

(November 4, 2013 – Source: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America)
Los Angeles Lakers: Steve Nash Injury A Blessing In Disguise?
By Mike Elworth: Owner and Publisher/Hoopstuff…
Yes I feel like a jerk for writing that title, because a player being injured shouldn’t be celebrated and in no way am I celebrating this injury, but for the Lakers this season they are a better team with Steve Nash injured. No Steve Nash for the Lakers means a lot more Jeremy Lin and Jordan Clarkson, which is excellent for the team this season and for multiple seasons.
Jeremy Lin will become the starter for the Lakers this season, who I thought should have started from the day he was traded for. Why? He is the much better player at 26 than Steve Nash at 40. Nash was a distributor and shooter on a team where Kobe Bryant has the ball the most, so a distributor of his caliber wasn’t necessary, they have enough shooting and he just isn’t the best fit with Kobe at guard; Lin is perfect. At 36 Kobe isn’t goin…

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Lakers announce Steve Nash to miss season with back issues

Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash  is expected to be ruled out for the 2014-15 NBA season because of recurring nerve damage in his back, reports Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. Nash, 40, expected this season, his 19th, to be his final one.  But he has not announced his retirement. The two-time league MVP is in the final year of a three-year, $28 million deal with the Lakers that will pay him $9.7 million this year. Nash has played in just 65 games over two seasons with the Lakers, including just 15 last season. Last week, Nash injured his back carrying bags. Nash ranks first in league history in free-throw percentage (90.4), and third with 10,335 assists. The post Report: Steve Nash to miss season with back issues appeared first on Sports Glory.

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Lakers News: Steve Nash’s Season-Ending Injury Creates Big Role for Jeremy Lin

Entering the last year of his current contract, Jeremy Lin has been given a massive opportunity to woo any potential suitors, albeit due to some unfortunate circumstances.

According to a league source cited by Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding, incumbent starting point guard and future Hall of Famer Steve Nash will miss the entire 2014-15 season as a result of nerve damage in his back.

It’s a shame to see Nash, one of the most enjoyable players on the planet during the last decade, likely end his marvelous career on such a sour note, but as Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Mannix noted, this makes it Lin’s time to step up:

Whether he indeed enters the starting lineup or comes off the bench in favor of the more defensively minded Ronnie Price (as he has the last two preseason games), Lin is going to receive north of 30 minutes per game.

Despite dealing with an ankle injury throughout preseason, Lin has already earned praise from a pair of Los Angeles Lakers legends.

Magic Johnson recently applauded the fifth-year point guard’s ability to create offense off the dribble:

Kobe Bryant, via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram, echoed that sentiment: “Jeremy makes a huge difference…creating shots for others. We’ve got somebody else who can penetrate, make plays for others and put pressure on the defense. It’s a really big difference.”

Going back to the days of “Linsanity,” the 26-year-old’s best attribute has always been his ability to collapse a defense. However, he has improved as a shooter. Last year with the Rockets, he set career highs in three-point percentage (35.8), three-pointers made per 36 minutes (1.4) and true-shooting percentage (57.2).

Especially while Nick Young is sidelined, the Lake Show need a consistent second option on offense behind Bryant. Lin, who has played well as both a scorer and distributor in the preseason, is now the clear candidate to fill that role.

Of course, while Lin is important to the Lakers’ success, the reverse is also true. If Lin wants to take that next step as an individual player, there’s really no better way to do it than spending an entire season in the same backcourt as Bryant.

Lin has already talked about learning from the 16-time All-Star, via Sports Out West’s Bob Garcia and Lakers Nation’s Serena Winters:

While news of Nash’s season-ending injury is disheartening, positives will emerge from it. A larger role for Lin is chief among those.

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Lakers boss Jeanie Buss: Any free agent who won’t play with Kobe is ‘probably a loser’

When Los Angeles Lakers president Jeanie Buss made her first comments in reaction to the scathing “ESPN The Magazine” piece by Henry Abbott regarding her team’s veteran superstar, she didn’t merely defend Kobe Bryant, she went on an aggressive offensive. Unlike others who chose to directly criticize Abbott and the magazine over the content of…Read More
The post Lakers boss Jeanie Buss: Any free agent who won’t play with Kobe is ‘probably a loser’ appeared first on Sportress of Blogitude.

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Lakers News: Latest Updates on Kobe Bryant, Xavier Henry and More

The 2014 NBA preseason is quickly coming to a close, and it looks like the Los Angeles Lakers will still be working out quite a few kinks well into the regular season, which begins for the Purple and Gold on Oct. 28 against the Houston Rockets.

Head coach Byron Scott has preached defense all summer long, but the Lakers have put in some shambolic performances on that end of the court during exhibition play. 

Scott hasn’t had much of a chance to put together his optimal lineups due to a litany of injuries and some strategic handling of his aging stars, not to mention an excess of players looking to latch onto this historic organization.

With all eyes set on the regular season, the Lakers’ health and roster shape are the focus of this latest news roundup.

 

Kobe Bryant Sits Out Final Exhibition Games

According to ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Jovan Buha, Scott has elected to sit Bryant for the Lakers’ remaining preseason games.

“I just think he needs some rest,” Scott said on Wednesday, via Buha. “I think he’s shown me enough. I think we’re all pretty happy with where he is.

Sure enough, Bryant was on the bench for the Lakers’ 94-86 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. In six preseason games, Bryant has averaged 19.0 points, 4.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 26.7 minutes per contest.

The Lakers have just one more preseason game left in 2014, an Oct. 24 matchup against the Sacramento Kings.

Fans were treated to some vintage play from Bryant in the Lakers’ 114-108 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. The Black Mamba poured in 27 points and shot 50 percent from the field. His fadeaway jumper looked sublime and was his go-to move in one-on-one situations.

Bryant’s health is essential to the Lakers’ chances of success this season. His scoring abilities are hardly in doubt, but putting in the hard work on defense every night will take a lot out of him.

Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy noted that general managers around the league still consider Bryant one of the toughest players around:

That doesn’t necessarily mean they still fear his defensive prowess, but it does speak to his importance to the Lakers from both a performance and perception standpoint.

The team will almost certainly be counting on their talismanic guard to work for more than 26 minutes a night, making any early rest that much more important. Scott is wise not to take any further chances with his superstar. Bryant doesn’t have anything left to prove in the preseason.

 

Xavier Henry Seeks Treatment for Knee Injury

One player whom Scott would really like to have back in a defensive stance is small forward Xavier Henry. Unfortunately, he’s been unable to suit up for the Lakers as he recovers from a knee injury suffered in December 2013.

In an effort to return to the hardwood as soon as possible, Henry is seeking out some advanced treatment. ESPN.com’s Baxter Holmes has the story:

In the coming days, the 23-year-old will travel to New York City to see Dr. Keith Pyne for a second opinion. Then Henry will travel to Dusseldorf, Germany, to receive Regenokine treatment from Dr. Jens Hartmann.

Kobe Bryant has had similar Regonkine treatments several times in his career. The noninvasive procedure involves blood being removed from his knee and spun in a centrifuge before doctors create a serum that is then injected back in the knee to fight off proteins and molecules that cause inflammation.

Henry’s absence from play might have been lost in the shuffle considering how many other Lakers have dealt with injuries this offseason. ESPN Los Angeles’ Arash Markazi noted the Lakers had seven players out for their Oct. 21 contest against the Utah Jazz:

Henry’s wingspan, hustle and athleticism make him a valuable asset on defense. It’s certainly disconcerting that an entire offseason of rehab hasn’t resulted in a healthy Henry. Guard Nick Young is recovering from a torn thumb ligament, which means the Lakers could be relying heavily on Wesley Johnson out on the wing to start the season.

Henry played in just 43 games last season because of this knee injury. It’s a long absence from competitive basketball, which could severely limit his effectiveness when he does return to the lineup.

 

Lakers Waive Two Players

If the regular season weren’t right around the corner, one would think the Lakers couldn’t afford to trim players from the roster with so many sitting courtside in street clothes and spending more time on the trainer’s table than on the hardwood.

Alas, cuts have to be made as teams excise the expendables in preparation for the games that count. On Tuesday general manager Mitch Kupchak waived two fringe players, point guard Keith Appling and center Jeremy Tyler, according to a report from NBA.com.

Neither player had much of a chance at securing a spot on the regular-season roster. 

The Lakers already have a deep reserve of frontcourt players, especially at center. Jordan Hill looks set to start at that position, with Robert Sacre and Ed Davis rotating in at the 5-spot. In fact, Scott recently stated that Davis will be playing center and center only to start the season, per Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times. This left no need for Tyler on the roster.

Appling, a point guard, suffered a shoulder injury in the Lakers’ second preseason game and hardly played, per Pincus. The Lakers already have floor generals in Jeremy Lin, Steve Nash and rookie Jordan Clarkson.

Should Nash struggle with injuries this season, Appling could be one of the first names Kupchak looks up in his Rolodex due to his (admittedly brief) time spent with the team this fall.

These cuts leave the likes of Ronnie Price, Roscoe Smith, Jabari Brown and Wayne Ellington to fight for the final spots on the roster.

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