'Lively' Kobe makes progress in second preseason game

October, 7, 2015
Oct 7
Holmes By Baxter Holmes

Kobe BryantAP Photo/Marco GarciaKobe Bryant had 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting in almost 21 minutes against the Jazz on Tuesday.

HONOLULU -- Kobe Bryant looked night-and-day different in his second preseason game, so much so that Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott couldn't stop gushing about his team's 37-year-old star.

"I don't know if it's a rebirth or what, but he looked really good and just very fluid in his movements," Scott said of Bryant after the Lakers' 117-114 overtime loss to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Stan Sheriff Center.

Bryant swooshed his first two shots, a midrange jumper and then a 3-pointer from the right wing, and he finished with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting in nearly 21 minutes.

"I feel fine," Bryant said. "The timing is not perfect yet, but it'll get there pretty quickly."

Bryant scored five points on 1-of-5 shooting in 12 minutes during the Lakers' preseason loss to Utah on Sunday, his first game in nine months since suffering a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder that ended his 2014-15 season after 35 games.

Bryant said that he's past the recovery phase of his injury.

"It's just getting the timing down to feel like myself," he said.

Scott believes that Bryant looked close to his old self Tuesday.

"I thought he looked great," Scott said. "He was very lively, getting up and down the floor defensively. I thought he was fantastic."

Bryant was much more efficient in the second game, finishing with three assists to go along with two rebounds. He added a steal and shot 2-of-5 from 3-point range.

"I talked to him earlier [Tuesday] morning, [and] he said he felt great," Scott said. "Then during the game, I just told him, 'You look great.' You look like you're lively, light on his feet, running well, moving extremely well."

But Scott said the Lakers will stick to the game plan of giving Bryant limited minutes throughout the preseason and basing each decision of playing time on how Bryant feels.


HONOLULU -- Utah Jazz forward Trevor Booker was ejected from a preseason game on Tuesday after taking a swing at Los Angeles Lakers center Roy Hibbert.

Hibbert approached Booker during a stop in play at the 7:14 mark of the third quarter, and the players got in each other's faces before Booker took an open-handed swing at Hibbert.

But before the two could further engage each other, Hibbert was held back by his teammates. Shortly thereafter, Booker was assessed two technical fouls and ejected from the Jazz's 117-114 overtime win at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Stan Sheriff Center. Hibbert remained in the game.

"That's what normally happens, but I'm happy to have teammates that will have my back," Hibbert said.

And of Booker?

"I ain't worried about him," Hibbert said "I'm not going to speak on that."

Hibbert, who joined the Lakers in an offseason trade with the Indiana Pacers, finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds in 32 minutes.

"I just wanted to be aggressive," Hibbert said. "It's preseason so you don't really take too much about the wins or the losses, but it's just how you play and just play with aggression and play together like you did. I like what I saw, even though we lost. There was a lot of good things in there."

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HONOLULU -- Alec Burks scored six of his 27 points in overtime to help the Utah Jazz beat the Los Angeles Lakers 117-114 in an NBA preseason game Tuesday night.

Burks shot 9 of 14 from the field to lead five players in double figures. Rodney Hood had 21 points, Trey Burke added 15, Trey Lyles 13 and Jeff Withey 11 for the Jazz (2-0).

Withey had a dunk off a pass from Elijah Millsap with 28 seconds left in regulation to tie it at 105.

Lou Williams scored 20 points to lead the Lakers (0-2), who lost rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell to a bruised glute muscle in the first quarter.

In his second game back from rotator cuff surgery, Kobe Bryant scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting in just under 21 minutes of action. Bryant played 12 minutes and had five points in Sunday's exhibition opener.

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D'Angelo RussellAP Photo/Marco GarciaD'Angelo Russell suffered a bruised glute after taking the brunt of a drive to the hoop from 7-foot-1 Jazz center Rudy Gobert. "He took a pretty good hard fall. I was just hoping there wasn't anything broken," Lakers coach Byron Scott said.

HONOLULU -- Los Angeles Lakers rookie guard D'Angelo Russell, the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft, left Tuesday's 117-114 preseason loss against the Utah Jazz with a bruised glute that he suffered after crashing to the court in the first quarter.

Russell, who is 6-foot-5, went down after absorbing the brunt of a drive to the hoop from 7-foot-1 Jazz center Rudy Gobert with 7:42 left in the first quarter at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Stan Sheriff Center.

Russell remained on the court for several minutes while teammates and Lakers trainers gathered around him. He was taken to the locker room soon after.

A Lakers spokesman said that had it been a regular-season game, Russell could have returned, but the team elected to sit him out for precautionary reasons.

"I knew it wasn't that serious when I fell," Russell said. "I was talking to [Lakers trainer Gary Vitti] while I was on the ground. I just couldn't really move. After it kind of loosened up a little bit, I was able to move."

Russell hasn't been ruled out for Wednesday's practice, but the team will monitor how he feels before making a decision.

"He took a pretty good hard fall. I was just hoping there wasn't anything broken," coach Byron Scott said. "The way he came down, I could tell he was going to be sore. I knew it was going to be his hip. Now, it's one of those things: It just depends on how fast the kid can heal."

The Lakers are already on edge when it comes to injuries, specifically regarding their top draft picks. Their 2014 No. 7 overall pick, Julius Randle

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Injuries continue to nag Lakers in preseason

October, 5, 2015
Oct 5
Holmes By Baxter Holmes

ScottAP Photo/Kevin Sullivan

HONOLULU -- Injuries have been a nagging issue for the Los Angeles Lakers lately. The team led the league in each of the past two seasons in games missed due to injury. That trend has continued through training camp before the 2015-16 season.

Rookie guard D'Angelo Russell (bone bruise in his right foot), rookie forward Larry Nance Jr. (back), guard Nick Young (back) and guard Marcelo Huertas (hamstring) have all been dinged up.

Guards Anthony Brown (right shoulder) and Jabari Brown (right hand) also joined the Lakers' list of walking wounded after suffering injuries in Monday's practice at Manoa's Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii.

An X-ray on Jabari Brown was negative and he has a contusion of his right hand. An MRI on Anthony Brown was also negative and he has a shoulder strain. Both players are listed as questionable.

Beyond that, Scott said 37-year-old Kobe Bryant "felt good" after playing his first game in nearly nine months Sunday, in which Bryant scored five points on 1-of-5 shooting in 12 minutes, all in the first quarter. Scott said he and Bryant would discuss how many minutes Bryant might play in Tuesday's game against the Utah Jazz here.

Scott said Bryant could play just 12 minutes again Tuesday or possibly more, but Scott said that decision would likely be made Tuesday morning.

If Bryant plays, as expected, Scott confirmed he'll go with the same starting lineup: Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Bryant, Julius Randle and Roy Hibbert.

Scott said he wouldn't mind if that starting lineup emerged as one he could use throughout the regular season.

"I would love for this group to take this to the next level," Scott said. "The only way they can do that is by playing together a little bit more in game situations and practice."

Scott said Nance practiced Monday and is expected to play Tuesday. He also said veteran forward Metta World Peace is expected to play after sitting out Sunday's game.

Huertas isn't scheduled to play Tuesday, as the team announced he will be absent because he'll be receiving his immigration documents in Vancouver.

Scott: Lakers have to fight through fatigue in preseason

October, 5, 2015
Oct 5
Holmes By Baxter Holmes

LakersAP Photo/Marco Garcia

HONOLULU -- The Los Angeles Lakers shot an abysmal 29 percent from the floor in their 90-71 preseason-opening loss to the Utah Jazz here Sunday, and many of those misses occurred the same way.

They hit the front of the rim.

Typically, a poor shooting night with so many players clanking so many shots off the front iron is a common sign of team-wide fatigue, which seemed understandable as Lakers coach Byron Scott has focused on running his players hard throughout training camp here.

But Scott didn't think fatigue played much of a role in their shooting.

"I think a lot of it is just, we just missed a lot of wide-open shots," Scott told reporters after practice at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Stan Sheriff Center on Monday.

"I don't know if it has anything to do with tired legs. I think we just missed open shots. You can always say it's tired legs. That to me is an excuse."

Scott doesn't seem too sympathetic to the idea of resting his players much, either.

"I don't necessarily care about tired legs in preseason," Scott said. "I think everything that we've done thus far will pay off at the end of the day. You've got some guys that might have tired legs and [are] a little worn out, but all the running as far as getting into that physical condition that we need to get into, I think in December and January, it will pay off.

"So I'm not necessarily worried about guys having tired legs in preseason. They'll just have to kind of fight through that fatigue part of it. And I think mentally it gets them a little stronger anyway."

Scott used a similar message after his Lakers were drubbed by the Jazz on Sunday, saying, "From what I saw, we've got to do some more running as far as getting back in transition because I thought they looked like they were in better shape than we were."

The Lakers have had several players dinged up lately, including guard D'Angelo Russell (bone bruise in his right foot), forward Larry Nance Jr. (back), guard Nick Young (back), guard Marcelo Huertas (hamstring), guard Anthony Brown (right shoulder) and guard Jabari Brown (right hand).

That streak of injuries continues a recent trend, as the Lakers have led the NBA in games missed due to injury in each of the past two seasons.

Byron Scott: 'We've still got a lot of work to do'

October, 4, 2015
Oct 4
Holmes By Baxter Holmes


HONOLULU -- It was only one game -- and a preseason game at that -- but Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott didn't seem too pleased with his team's effort.

After Sunday's 90-71 loss to the Utah Jazz at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Stan Sheriff Center, Scott said he told his players that, "We've got a lot of work to do. There's no way in the world we're even close to where we want to be."

The Lakers are coming off their worst season in franchise history, finishing 21-61.

Byron ScottAP Photo/Marco GarciaByron Scott has been smiling in Hawaii this week, but he had little to be happy about after the Lakers' exhibition opener Sunday night.

Speaking after Sunday's game, Scott also said that the Lakers "were a step late, it seemed, in every aspect of the game."

He also harped on several defensive mistakes.

"We gave up way too many drives," Scott said. "We gave up way too many baseline dish-offs. Sometimes, [because of] a lack of communication, we gave up some open shots."

Scott has been running his players quite hard in practice during the previous five days, so he said he wasn't all that surprised that some of them seemed tired Sunday.

"From what I saw, we've got to do some more running as far as getting back in transition because I thought they looked like they were in better shape than we were," Scott said.

Kobe Bryant, who played in his first game after injuring his shoulder nine months ago, was encouraged.

"There's a lot of upside," Bryant said. "I think the pieces compliment each other extremely well. It's just a matter of getting in a rhythm, getting some of these games underneath my belt a little bit."

D'Angelo Russell shows flashes but still has plenty of work to do

October, 4, 2015
Oct 4
Holmes By Baxter Holmes


HONOLULU -- D'Angelo Russell had nowhere to go but up after an unimpressive summer league performance, one in which the promising Los Angeles Lakers' rookie guard tallied nearly twice as many turnovers (26) as assists (16) in five outings.

His first game since then, held Sunday night at the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, wasn't exactly a huge step forward for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.

In the Lakers' 90-71 preseason opening loss to the Utah Jazz, Russell finished with five points on 2-of-8 shooting, including 1-for-4 from 3-point range.

He also had three rebounds, three assists and two turnovers in about 21 minutes.

D'Angelo RussellAndrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesD'Angelo Russell struggled in his first exhibition game with the Lakers, but coach Byron Scott isn't concerned.

"Rookie, 19 years old -- that's pretty much to be expected, as far as I'm concerned," Lakers coach Byron Scott said.

Russell did have a few highlights, including one no-look pass to Julius Randle on a fast break that turned heads.

"His vision is astronomical," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. "If there's a crack, that ball is to you."

Still, Russell more often than not looked like a player still adjusting to transition from the college ranks to the pro game.

"At the end of the day, it's our first preseason game," Russell said. "We've got a long way to go before the season [starts on Oct. 28]."

Russell had been limited in practice this week by a bone bruise in his right foot, but he said it wasn't an issue during the game.

"I forgot about it once I was out there," he said.


HONOLULU -- Kobe Bryant scored five points in his first action since undergoing surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in the Los Angeles Lakers' 90-71 loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday.

Bryant was 1 of 5 from the field, with his only made basket coming on a 3-pointer from the left corner. He made both of his free throw attempts.

Derrick Favors had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Jazz in the preseason opener for both teams.

JAZZ: Favors scored 12 points in the first half. Gordon Hayward added 11 points and nine rebounds, Rudy Gobert had 10 points and eight boards, and Trey Burke added 10 points.

LAKERS: Guard Lou Williams, who won NBA Sixth Man of the Year honors with Toronto last season, scored 14 points off the bench. Nick Young was the only other Los Angeles player to score in double figures, finishing with 10 points.

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Lakers guard Kobe Bryant misses his first shot but hits a 3-pointer later on in his first game back from a shoulder injury, a preseason matchup against the Jazz.

HONOLULU -- Kobe Bryant's first shot in nearly nine months didn't go as planned.

With about 10 minutes left in the first quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers' preseason opener Sunday against the Utah Jazz, the 37-year-old guard fired a contested 3-pointer from the left corner, and it hit the side of the backboard.

The rest of Bryant's brief outing wasn't much better, with the longtime Laker finishing with five points on 1-of-5 shooting in 12 minutes, all of them coming in the first quarter before a Lakers-heavy crowd at the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Bryant's lone field goal was a contested 3-pointer from the right corner over Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward.

The Lakers would go on to lose 90-71

After his first game since late January, when he tore the rotator cuff in his right shoulder, ending his 2014-15 season after 35 games, Bryant said he felt "pretty good" and that it was "good to get out there."

He added that his legs feel strong and that he didn't feel any fatigue.

"It's just getting the timing," said Bryant, whose past three seasons have all been cut short by injury. "Getting timing. Getting acclimated to that again."

Lakers coach Byron Scott seemed pleased with Bryant's performance.

"He was pretty good," Scott said. "He moved well."

Scott said the plan of playing Bryant 12 minutes was agreed upon before the game.

"I told him before we went out, 'Let's just play the quarter and then let's shut it down and see how you feel [Monday]. We'll go through practice and then get ready for Tuesday,'" Scott said.

The Lakers face the Jazz again Tuesday, and Bryant is expected to play limited minutes in that game as well, though Scott said they'll likely increase Bryant's minutes gradually throughout the preseason.

What's the target for how many minutes Bryant would ultimately play? Scott declined to say.

Bryant started at the small forward position, as Lakers rookie and 2015 No. 2 overall draft pick D'Angelo Russell

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Mentoring Mamba shares what he knows

October, 3, 2015
Oct 3
Holmes By Baxter Holmes

Kobe Bryant, D'Angelo RussellAndrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesLakers rookie D'Angelo Russell has a mentor in Kobe Bryant this season.

HONOLULU -- Los Angeles Lakers rookie guard D'Angelo Russell was eight months and 11 days old when Kobe Bryant made his NBA debut.

"D'Angelo could probably be my son," the 37-year-old Bryant quipped after the Lakers' practice Saturday at the University of Hawaii at Mona's Stan Sheriff Center.

The 19-year-old Russell isn't alone, though. The Lakers are populated with several young promising players, including 20-year-old forward Julius Randle and 23-year-old guard Jordan Clarkson.

While a generational gap no doubt exists between Bryant and the team's fledgling trio that it hopes will be its future core, Bryant is doing his best to help bridge that gap.

"The universal language is the game," Bryant said. "These guys, they're really, really thirsty for knowledge."

And so after practices, several players have been gathering, whether back at the team hotel or elsewhere, just to talk.

"The other day, we sat around and talked for about 2 1/2 hours," Bryant said. "They just wanted to know some of the things that I've been through, some of the things that I've learned, some of the things that I can help them with. The game really connects us."

What do they chat about?

"The process and the journey and things to look out for," Bryant said. "Not so much tactically about the game, more so emotional -- kind of what separates good players from great players. What happens when players come in, first pick, second pick, third pick, and some go on to have great careers and some just fall by the wayside. And why do you think that is? What do you see?"

When asked if players are responding to what he has shared, Bryant said that isn't exactly the point.

"It's not really responding to me," he said. "It's just talking and sharing some of my stories and they want to know about how I did it. I'm just very frank and candid with them. I think it sinks in. It's important that they find their own way. I can only provide them with some of the knowledge and information that I have."

Bryant said he had hoped to be in this position one day.

The universal language is the game. These guys, they're really, really thirsty for knowledge.

- Kobe Bryant

"I always felt like it would be fun," Bryant said. "It's just, when I was younger, who was I able to pass knowledge off to? I’d do camps and clinics for kids that are 10-12 years old. They'll listen. But who's going to listen to a 20-year-old? So now, my peers are more willing to listen because of everything that I've been through."

Bryant said he realized other NBA players looked up to him around 2008, and although he had plenty of knowledge about the game from his father, Joe, who played in the NBA, Bryant recalled learning from veterans when he was a young player as well.

"When I came in the league, I was surrounded by golden greats," Bryant said. "I remember '98 in the All-Star Game in New York, it was like a kid in a candy store. Because I had Michael [Jordan] that I was playing up against and I had always picked his brain for stuff, but then in the locker room, I was next to Gary Payton, Clyde Drexler, John Stockton, Charles Barkley. So I'd go around just asking everybody questions."

For now, Bryant says he enjoys being around those younger players.

"They're hungry," he said. "They want to be great."

Although many years separate Russell, the Lakers' No. 2 overall draft pick in 2015, and Bryant, the game is one subject that will help connect them.

"It's not listening to the same music, it's not going out to a club, I’m too f---ing old to do that s--t anyway," Bryant said. "But it's just talking, being in his ear whenever he needs it and however I can help."



Kobe Bryant
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
ReboundsC. Boozer 6.8
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsV. Blue 1.5
BlocksR. Sacre 0.6