Lakers want to get Kobe Bryant more rest

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
3:07
PM PT
By Baxter Holmes
ESPN.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Byron Scott said he wants to start resting Kobe Bryant more during practice days to preserve the Los Angeles Lakers star for games, where Scott would like to keep playing Bryant between 30 to 40 minutes.

Scott, the Lakers coach, said Bryant did light shooting and little else during practice here Monday. Scott added that Bryant would have a similar off-day Tuesday in advance of Wednesday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

The move to rest Bryant more during practices -- a tactic that Bryant has done several times in previous seasons -- comes after Bryant has mentioned his legs feeling heavy after recent games, which Bryant said had affected his shooting.

Bryant, now in his 19th season, is averaging 35.7 minutes per game, the 13th-most in the league entering Monday.

"You try to kind of work your way through it a little bit, but everything's short," Bryant said after a 6-for-22 night in a loss against Dallas on Friday. "It's just one of those 36-year-old [hiccups]."

Scott said Monday that Bryant “was upset with himself” because many of his shots were short in Sunday’s overtime loss to Denver, when Bryant shot 4-of-14 from the field in the fourth quarter and overtime after shooting 6-for-10 in the first three quarters. Bryant tied his season-high with 44 minutes in the loss.

Scott said fatigue is normal, given that Bryant missed all but six games last season after fracturing his knee.

“I said, that’s expected when you haven’t played that long, you miss that length of time, being a year off,” Scott said, “and then you come back basically with a bang because that adrenaline is flowing.

“Then sooner or later, during the season, it’s going to catch up to you. We've just got to rejuvenate and get back there. He will. I think that this week at home, getting a couple days off here and there will definitely help him.”

Xavier Henry has ruptured Achilles

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
12:42
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El SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers reserve swingman Xavier Henry will miss the rest of the season with a ruptured left Achilles, the Lakers announced on Monday.

Henry suffered the injury during practice, and an MRI confirmed it shortly thereafter.

"Results revealed a completely torn Achilles," a source told ESPN.com.

Henry is scheduled to have surgery Tuesday morning with Dr. Neal ElAttrache and Dr. Steve Lombardo of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles.

Though the team is just 14 games into its 2014-15 campaign, Henry is already the third Laker to be declared out for the season because of an injury, joining point guard Steve Nash (back) and rookie forward Julius Randle (leg). Reserve forward Ryan Kelly is currently sidelined because of a hamstring tear.

Injuries plagued the Lakers dating back to last season, when their players missed a league-high 319 combined games because of injuries.

Lakers coach Byron Scott said Henry suffered the injury during a three-on-three drill.

"Nobody hit him or anything like that," Scott said after practice. "He went down and pretty much said to us that he heard a 'pop.'"

The oft-injured Henry has had knee injures the past two seasons and even went to Germany this offseason for treatment. In nine games with the Lakers this season, Henry averaged 2.2 points over 9.6 minutes.


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Lakers forward Wesley Johnson puts up a one-handed dunk over Danilo Gallinari.

NBA Top Plays

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
9:51
PM PT


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Wesley Johnson's empthatic dunk is the top play from the night in the NBA.

Nuggets beat Lakers 101-94 in OT

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
9:36
PM PT
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LOS ANGELES -- Wilson Chandler scored 19 points and Ty Lawson had 16 points and 16 assists, helping the Denver Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 101-94 in overtime on Sunday night.

Arron Afflalo added 15 points for the Nuggets, who have won five of six following a 1-6 start that was capped by consecutive double-digit losses to Portland.

The Lakers, coming off a 140-106 drubbing at Dallas, began a four-game homestand with their seventh straight loss to the Nuggets, despite 27 points from Kobe Bryant. The NBA's No. 4 career scorer made only four of 14 shots after the third quarter and finished 10 for 24.

The losing streak against Denver matches the Lakers' longest against any club since an eight-game drought against Portland from Feb. 18, 1993, through Jan. 9, 1995.


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Nuggets 101, Lakers 94 (OT): Bricks abound

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
9:35
PM PT
By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Two of the Western Conference's worst teams played about as ugly as you'd expect, and neither really played like they really wanted to win Sunday's contest. After laying bricks for four quarters, these clubs needed five more brutal minutes to settle it with the Denver Nuggets topping the Los Angeles Lakers 101-94.

Stat of the game: Both teams combined to miss 112 field goals, including 48 from 3-point range. And, for good measure, they combined to miss 24 free throws. Like we said, a lot of bricks.

Turning point: Denver's Danilo Gallinari sank a contested 28-footer to give the Nuggets a 94-90 lead with 1:28 left in overtime. Though the Lakers made it a bit interesting in the final minute, they never came back from that shot.

Player of the game: Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson finished with 16 assists, which was one more than the Lakers had as a team. Process that.

Highlight of the game: There wasn't much to choose from, but Wesley Johnson's thunderous one-handed, poster-worthy dunk over Gallinari with 3:15 left in the fourth quarter takes the cake. The crowd went bananas, as did the Lakers' bench, with Robert Sacre hugging everyone within sight. Johnson was fouled on the fast-break dunk and converted the free throw, giving the Lakers an 85-82 lead.

Kobe Bryant update: He shot 6-of-10 from the field in the first three quarters, then just 4-of-14 in fourth quarter and overtime. He missed a 3-pointer with 12.9 seconds left that could have pulled the Lakers to within one. He played 44 minutes, tying his season-high.

Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki: Two directions

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
8:53
PM PT
By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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DALLAS -- On one side: a title contender whose star took less money.

On the other: a rebuilding crew, starring the NBA's highest-paid player.

For the traits that Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki share as 36-year-olds among the league's top-10 all-time leading scorers, that stark difference stood out most Friday during the Dallas Mavericks' 140-106 demolition of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Of course, it's not so simple to say that the 3-10 Lakers are struggling just because Bryant accepted a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension last season, a deal that eats a huge chunk of the Lakers' salary cap space.

[+] EnlargeKobe Bryant
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsKobe Bryant shared a few words with Mavs owner Mark Cuban after the game.
And it's also not so simple to say that the 10-3 Dallas Mavericks are chasing a championship just because Nowitzki re-signed this summer at $25 million over three years, a bargain that allowed the team to afford other impact additions.

Other factors are many: deals that never were (Chris Paul, thanks to "basketball reasons") and those that never panned out (Steve Nash, thanks to injuries); players that didn't stay (Dwight Howard) and free agents who never came (Carmelo Anthony).

Indeed, not all has gone the Lakers' way, though they haven't done too shabby historically when you consider the 16 banners hanging in Staples Center.

But in the end, they're bound for the lottery, under construction until further notice, and Bryant and his huge deal are targeted as a key reason for their plight.

"Did I take a discount? Yeah," Bryant said after a morning shootaround here, when he discussed his contract more than at any point since signing it.

"Did I take as big a discount as some of you fans would want me to? No.

"Is it a big enough discount to help us be a contender? Yeah.

"So what we try to do is be in a situation where they take care of the player and the player takes care of the organization enough to put us in a championship predicament eventually."

Bryant almost certainly didn't mean to use the phrase "championship predicament." But if it was a Freudian slip, well, it sure was fitting.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stated the obvious about his squad: Nowitzki's deal made a huge impact in helping shape the roster, giving them the financial flexibility to add the high-profile and, more important, promising young free agent in Chandler Parsons that they had been chasing for so long.

"To me, it's not about money, it's about winning," Cuban said. "Different players have different attitudes."

Could a player make $24 million in the NBA's current punitive financial climate (as Bryant does this season) and legitimately say they’re interested in winning?

"Yeah, of course, as long as you can convince everybody else that you need to come play for the minimum," Cuban said with a laugh.

Cuban has long been poking fun at the Lakers on this topic, once calling them Shaq, Kobe and the "band of merry minimum [-salaried players]" in 2000 during Cuban's first season as an owner.

Nowitzki echoed Cuban's point that his deal was about winning, not money.

"I wanted to be on a good team," Nowitzki said. "I wanted to compete my last couple of years at the highest level. Ever since after the championship, we had a couple of rough years. We missed the playoffs one year, were the eighth seed twice I think, so that was really the main decision. I wanted to play at a high level my last couple years, and it kind of worked out with getting Parsons, with getting Tyson [Chandler] back here. We feel like we've got a good group, and hopefully we can make it work."

Bryant argued that Nowitzki's deal meant the German forward "wasn't playing in Los Angeles," and that difference matters.

After all, the Lakers have a 20-year, $3 billion deal with Time Warner Cable that hinges on ratings. They need Bryant, not only for that, but to justify ticket prices, to keep interest high during lost seasons. His value goes far beyond the court.

Yet the high cost of paying their cash cow what he legitimately might be worth ultimately hurts the Lakers' efforts to build around him, to be a contender.

Nowitzki will spend his golden years chasing another ring, while Bryant, for now, is only chasing personal records. Other factors are many, of course, but that stark difference is what rose above all else Friday, as two legends headed in opposite directions, their teams following suit.

ESPNDallas.com reporter Tim MacMahon contributed to this report.

Nowitzki, Mavericks roll over Lakers 140-106

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
8:01
PM PT
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DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki scored 23 points in yet another efficient shooting effort and the Dallas Mavericks used the NBA's highest-scoring offense to roll to a 140-106 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

The Mavericks won their sixth straight game overall and fourth in a row against the Lakers, who were swept by Dallas in the regular season for the first time in 2013-14.

Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons were a combined 23 of 33 from the field as the Mavericks had season highs in points, shooting percentage (62 percent) and assists (37). Parsons had 21 points and Ellis scored 20.

Kobe Bryant missed his first eight shots and was 6 of 22 for 17 points. Jeremy Lin had 18 to lead the Lakers, who came in with their first two-game winning streak.


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Mavs 140, Lakers 106: Modest streak over

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
7:58
PM PT
By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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DALLAS -- So much for the Los Angeles’ Lakers winning streak. After two straight road wins fueled by the return of a so-called savior who goes by the name Swaggy P, the Lakers returned back to earth in embarrassing fashion, trailing the Dallas Mavericks by as much as 38. Nick Young wasn't much of a factor, by the way, as he scored just five points off the bench.

Turning point: The Lakers had been allowing 110 points per game, and they gave up that in three quarters. It all went away from them in that third frame, when they were outscored 42-24, and it was all downhill from there, with the fourth quarter turning into lopsided garbage time during which many fans filed out to find a better way to spend their Friday night.

Stat of the game: 140. The Mavericks’ final point total tied for their most ever at the American Airlines Center. They also scored that much April 5, 2009 against Phoenix.

More fun with numbers: The Mavericks hit 18 3-pointers, the Lakers hit 5. The Mavericks had three players score 20 or more points, the Lakers had none.

Kobe Bryant update: He scored 17 points on 22 shots in 31 minutes. Not his finest outing. On the other side, Dirk Nowitzki had a tidy 23 points on 10 shots in 21 minutes.

Kobe 'not going for' discount deals

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
11:31
AM PT
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DALLAS -- Kobe Bryant considers the public pressure for longtime NBA stars to take hometown-discount deals, such as Dirk Nowitzki's contract, "a big coup" for NBA owners.

"It's the popular thing to do," Bryant said after the Los Angeles Lakers' shootaround prior to Friday night's 140-106 loss to Nowitzki's Dallas Mavericks. "The player takes less, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I think it's a big coup for the owners to put players in situations where public perception puts pressure on them to take less money. Because if you don't, then you get criticized for it.

"It's absolutely brilliant, but I'm not going for it. I know the new head of the players' association ain't going for it, either."

Bryant, 36, agreed to a two-year, $48.5 million extension with the Lakers last season, when he was recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. The deal is for less than Bryant was eligible to make on a maximum contract but still makes him the highest-paid player in the league.

Nowitzki, 36, re-signed with the Mavs this summer for $25 million over three years, taking far less than his market value to leave Dallas owner Mark Cuban enough salary-cap space to make roster upgrades.

"I wanted to be on a good team," Nowitzki said after scoring 23 points in 21 minutes during the Mavs' rout Friday. "I wanted to compete my last couple of years at the highest level. Ever since after the championship, we had a couple of rough years. We missed the playoffs one year, were the eighth seed twice I think, so that was really the main decision.

"I wanted to play at a high level my last couple years, and it kind of worked out with getting Parsons, with getting Tyson back here. We feel like we've got a good group, and hopefully we can make it work."

What does Bryant think about Nowitzki, who has never used an agent, taking such a steep hometown discount?

"I think it means he's not playing in Los Angeles," Bryant said with a laugh.

Cuban said Nowitzki's knowledge of the collective bargaining agreement and his desire to play for a contender were the primary factors in determining the size of his contract, not public perception.

"First of all, not every player in the NBA, not every owner in the NBA is motivated purely by money," said Cuban, adding that fans put pressure on owners to spend every penny possible or be labeled as cheap. "If you look at our ticket prices, how many times have we lowered them? How many times have we paid the luxury tax? How many times have I told you guys, 'I don't care if we lose money, I want to win'? You know my motivations, and I think Dirk's motivations are similar."

Nowitzki, who has made more than $200 million during his career, has said several times that the chance to win a second championship is much more important to him than money during his basketball golden years. The Mavs, whose offseason acquisitions included center Tyson Chandler


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Devin Harris (leg) out vs. Lakers

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
11:30
AM PT
MacMahon By Tim MacMahon
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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DALLAS -- Mavericks guard Devin Harris will miss his second consecutive game Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Mavs are being mysteriously elusive about details of Harris' lower right leg injury.

Harris declined to speak to the media after the Mavs’ shootaround, saying he had been told not to say anything and deferring questions to coach Rick Carlisle.

“He’s doing a little bit better,” Carlisle said. “We’ll have an announcement probably later in the day.”

About a half hour later, Carlisle sent reporters a text message saying Harris was out against the Lakers.

Carlisle declined to answer any follow-up questions about Harris, including how much the veteran guard participated in the shootaround.

Harris, who is averaging 8.6 points and 4.4 assists per game, did not play in the second half of Monday’s win over the Charlotte Hornets and sat out Wednesday’s win over the Washington Wizards. He said during the road trip that his leg had been bothering him for about a week before the decision was made for him to rest.
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'SportsNation' hosts Michelle Beadle and Marcellus Wiley, along with guest Larry King, discuss whether Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard looked bad for not playing against the Lakers.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
26.7 4.2 1.3 35.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 10.0
AssistsJ. Lin 4.9
StealsR. Price 1.3
BlocksE. Davis 1.4