Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Young to start against Milwaukee
By Dave McMenamin
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Nick Young will likely replace Wes Johnson in starting lineup for the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said after shootaround Tuesday morning.
Johnson has gastroenteritis (stomach bug) and did not attend shootaround but should still be available to play.
"He's sick," D'Antoni said. "He'll probably play tonight, Wes, (we) hope that they can get him there, get his stomach calmed down."
Young is the Lakers' leading scorer this season, averaging 16.2 points per game and has been even better as of late, scoring 20-plus points in five of his last six games, but he's been doing his damage as a bench player.
Young is averaging 17.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists while shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from 3 in 25 games as the Lakers' sixth man this season. In the six games he started so far, he averaged just 9.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 0.5 assists while shooting 33.3 percent from the field and 23.5 percent from deep.
"We'll look and see how it goes tonight," D'Antoni said of the notion of promoting Young back to full-time starter. "You always evaluate it, but it was caused by (Johnson's sickness) and then we'll see what happens."
Young, making a league-minimum $1.1 million this season, has been a pleasant surprise for the Lakers.
"I think Nick is one of the better players in the league," said D'Antoni. "I think he can play. There's still shot selection, is obviously something he'll keep working on, but also you don't want to damper what he has.
"He can get a shot any time he wants to. Of course, I could make a joke, that's the best thing about him (that) he can get a shot any time he wants to and the worst thing about him is that he can get a shot anytime he wants to. But, I won't say that."
"But his ability to be able to focus in on the defensive end and really try to get better there has been great and I never thought that and just his attitude and his spirit is great. There's a lot of good things there."
The Young-Johnson shuffle means the Lakers will trot out their 17th different starting lineup in their 32nd game of the season against the Bucks and their seventh different starting group in the last seven games.
In other injury news, Pau Gasol (upper respiratory infection) and Chris Kaman (left ankle sprain) both participated in shootaround and will play against Milwaukee.
"We got about eight centers (healthy), so we're good. And no point guards," said D'Antoni with a laugh. "We're a litttttle top heavy."
One of the point guards the Lakers are missing that D'Antoni was referring to is Xavier Henry, who is actually more of a wing player but had been playing back-up point because of injuries to Steve Nash (nerve root irritation) and Steve Blake (right elbow).
Henry will be out a minimum of 7-10 days after an MRI taken on Monday revealed a bone bruise in his right knee as well as an abnormality in his lateral meniscus.
"It's too bad, I hate it for him," said D'Antoni. "He was playing really well, but it's only 7-10 days and he'll be back. But knowing our luck, it could be career-ending.
"I did tell the guys that whoever is thinking about bringing the ball across halfcourt may not want to do that. Throw it to the next guy."