L.A. Lakers pick up where it left off before All-Star break

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The Lakers demonstrated that at times against Brooklyn, cutting a 22-point lead to 107-100 with 2:29 remaining. But then the inevitable happened after the Lakers scored only three points the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Brooklyn shot 10 of 21 from 3-point range and featured five players in double figures, including Joe Johnson (23 points), Brook Lopez (22), Bojan Bogdanovic (18), Alan Anderson (14) and Deron Williams (12). That overshadowed the Lakers’ Jeremy Lin (18), Ed Davis (16), Robert Sacre (13), Jordan Hill (12), Jordan Clarkson (12) and Ryan Kelly (12) posting double-digits. The latest defeat brings the Lakers one step closer in landing a top five pick, which will delay the Lakers from sending their draft pick to the Phoenix Suns as part of the Steve Nash trade for another year. But Kupchak reiterated the Lakers are not losing games on purpose. “I just don’t know how you send that message to a coaching staff or players,” said Kupchak, who will spend part of his weekend scouting at unspecified NCAA games partly in case that top five pick remains intact. “That’s just not something that we want people to think we would do.” The losses just happen naturally, the Lakers riddled with season-ending injuries to Kobe Bryant (right shoulder), Nash (back), Julius Randle (right leg) and Xavier Henry (left Achilles). Yet, the Lakers still find meaning in the 28 regular-season games in what Scott described as “evaluation mode.” The week-long All-Star break afforded time for Lakers coach Byron Scott to golf in Mexico, Nick Young to visit dolphins in Hawaii and numerous others to rest their aching bodies. But the Lakers returned to a less pleasant reality, a 114-105 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday at Staples Center marking a persistent losing stretch that includes seven consecutive defeats and dropping 15 out of the past 16 contests. Scott’s first season of a four-year, $17 million contract coaching the Lakers (13-41) coincides with the team on pace to set its worst record in franchise history. And yet …“Byron and his staff have done a great job under adverse conditions,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said on Friday. “It’s important for our coaches to maintain a culture of spirited practices and players playing hard in games.”center_img Scott started Clarkson, Ellington, Kelly, Black and Sacre for the 11th consecutive game, a unit that averages 1.6 years in NBA experience. But Scott did not play forwards Carlos Boozer and Wesley Johnson, marking the first games they missed this season because of a coach’s decision. Hill appeared in his first game after missing the past five contests because of a sore right hip flexor. Price posted four points and eight assists in 28 minutes after sitting the past seven games partly to heal his sprained right elbow. “I’ll make another change,” Scott said. “I just don’t know when that’s going to be.”Scott then highlighted various possibilities as part of his pledge to consider lineup changes after every 15-20 games. He will consider starting small forward Nick Young, though his five points on a 2-of-9 clip continued a poor stretch in February where he has shot 30.2 percent from the field. Scott kept his pledge for both Price and Lin to share playing time off the bench. Scott also may feature Clarkson as a reserve as a new way to develop the rookie guard. Scott also hoped Clarkson’s mentorship with Nash will continue. “If you only work with him once or twice, it won’t take effect,” Scott said. “It has to be a constant thing. As long as Steve is willing to do that, I think that’s fantastic for Jordan. He said it was great working with Steve. I just hope they can continue to do that.”Boozer, Lin, Price and Johnson will become unrestricted free agents. The Lakers have team options on Clarkson, Hill, Black and Sacre. Davis will opt out of his $1.2 million player option in hopes of securing a long-term deal with the Lakers. “A lot of our players are one expiring contracts so they should be playing hard anyway,” Kupchak said. “If they don’t, they’re showing you something. But playing hard doesn’t necessarily mean you go out and play for yourself either. You don’t want that guy on your team.”last_img

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