Lakers more encouraged with growth than with 110-93 loss to Thunder

first_imgOKLAHOMA CITY >> The cast of characters has changed on the court and behind the scenes. But Magic Johnson’s arrival does not mean the Lakers will show much on-court magic just yet.Johnson witnessed the Lakers experience a 110-93 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena because of season-long issues.Thunder guard Russell Westbrook may have reminded Johnson of himself. Despite shooting only 4 for 18 from the field, Westbrook (8 for 9 from the foul line) posted his 28th triple-double of the season and second against the Lakers with 17 points, 18 rebounds and 17 assists. Westbrook, Johnson and Rajon Rondo are the only three NBA players in the last 40 years to log at least 17 points, 17 rebounds and 17 assists in a game.Meanwhile, the Lakers struggled once again from the field (40 of 101), from 3-point range (7 of 35) and in the third quarter (Lakers were outscored 28-19). AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“Obviously it sucks to lose,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “But there was good building going on with that.”The Lakers were expected to endure more short-term pain even after they shuffled their front office earlier this week with an eye toward the future. Johnson and Walton saw just that as the Lakers (19-40) lost their third consecutive game. But Walton also saw “a lot of really good things” that left him encouraged about the team’s long-term development.Walton followed through on his pledge to lean more on his young group after trading high-scoring sixth man Lou Williams to Houston this week for a first-round pick and Corey Brewer.Despite shooting only 3 for 12 from 3-point range, Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell scored a team-leading 29 points on 12-of-26 shooting with six assists, four rebounds and a career-high four steals in 35 minutes.Though he believed Russell forced shots at times, Walton also saw Russell showing some “really good moments” in both showing vocal leadership and leading a late fourth-quarter charge that cut a 20-point deficit to single digits with 4:18 remaining. “My teammates did a great job of finding me. But I’m definitely trying to find ways to be aggressive,” Russell said. “I just spoke on what I saw. Guys did the same with me. They spoke on what they saw on what I could’ve done better at or what I could’ve done in certain aspects. I try to do my best.”With Williams no longer there to share ball-handling duties and shots, Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson appeared more assertive and comfortable with 14 points, five assists and five rebounds, though he was just 6 for 17 from the field.Walton liked Clarkson’s defensive effort on Westbrook despite his numbers, noting “that’s what you do on superstars, you make it hard on him.” Meanwhile, Clarkson admitted Williams’ absence made him feel less inclined to shoot on almost every possession.“I just try not to force stuff knowing the ball is going to come back,” Clarkson said. “I was trying to look for my teammates, trying to make plays and when the shots come, you just take them.”Lakers forward Julius Randle had his 12th double-double of the season (13 points, 11 rebounds) despite committing five fouls. Walton liked the decision making from rookie forward Brandon Ingram, who had 11 points, five rebounds and four assists in 39 minutes, including all of the first quarter. Lakers reserve forward Larry Nance Jr. had a season-high 12 rebounds. Rookie center Ivica Zubac had 11 points and six rebounds, while pleasing Walton with his defense on Thunder center Enes Kanter (four points on 2-of-12 shooting).Those developments did not make Walton bear a smile as wide as Johnson’s. But Walton still talked with his players more about their positive developments than their negative ones.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

Warriors’ Draymond Green spoke with Kevin Durant, dismissed long-term concerns

first_img Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersWant real-time Warriors news texted to your phone? Sign up for Mark Medina’s private text messaging service.The Warriors held a team dinner on Wednesday night, which is a typical practice on trips. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he spoke to Green privately and to the team before Thursday’s morning shootaround. Though Kerr declined to share any details, he described the mood during shootaround as “pretty quiet.”When the Warriors opened up the end of morning shootaround to the media, Green and Durant appeared cordial and completed their shooting workouts at the same basket. Durant did not speak to reporters after morning shootaround and maintained a sullen expression as he sat on a bench and thumbed through his phone after his workout. But Kerr maintained he “feels extremely confident in this team’s ability to get through any adversity.”“I know the character of the group. I know the history of this group,” said Kerr, whose team has won three NBA titles in the past four years. “It’s way too strong and way too powerful to be upended by the type of adversity that can hit any team in this league. We’re going to get through this.”After all, the Warriors defeated the Rockets here in Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals before winning their second NBA championship in consecutive seasons. Green and Durant also had on-court arguments during his inaugural season two years ago. Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions “I’ve read a lot about how ‘Is this the end of the run? Is it over. Did I ruin it? Did I force Kevin to leave?’” Green said, rhetorically. “At the end of the day, as I have said before, whatever Kevin decides to do, whatever Klay [Thompson] decides to do, we’ve had great years together. I support everybody whole heartedly 100 percent. As a man and human being, you have the right to do with whatever you want in your life. I’d never question that.”Green did question one thing, though. He dismissed any concerns on whether his verbal altercation with Durant would disrupt the team’s chances in winning its fourth NBA title in four years or convince Durant to leave next offseason when he plans to decline of his $31 million player option to become a free agent. One Warriors staffer walked out during morning shootaround and jokingly said within ear shot of reporters, “break it up; it’s all over.”“Nobody in this organization, from a player, not myself, not Kevin, not anybody else, is going to beat us. So if you are one of them 29 teams in this league, you gotta beat us,” Green said. “We are not going to beat us. We’re going to continue to do what we do. I’m sorry if that ruins everybody’s stories. I know everybody got a job to do. I apologize for ruining y’all stories, if it did. But if this only makes Kevin, myself, the rest of my teammates stronger, that’s what it’s going to do. You think you saw something before, good luck with us now. We’re not going to crumble off an argument. We’re going to move forward.”One way Green wants to move forward: not answer any more questions about anything involving his disagreement with Durant. Green delivered an opening statement for about two minutes on this situation, but declined to answer a follow-up question regarding the front office’s stance. The Warriors suspended him for one-game without pay because of Green’s language toward Durant. The Warriors then had a team discussion in the locker room, though the team said the substance of those conversations did not influence their decision to suspend Green.“Anybody want to talk about basketball?” Green said. “I spoke on what I spoke about, if anyone want to talk about basketball. I’ll take some basketball questions. But that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”Green spoke indirectly, though, on his basketball philosophy that determines when to be a playmaker, find an open teammate or pass to one of the Warriors’ top scorers in Durant, Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson. After Green grabbed a rebound in Monday’s game against the Clippers with six seconds left, he sprinted toward the other court and did not pass a trailing Durant after calling for the ball. Green also did not see an open Thompson before fumbling the ball as time expired.“Ball movement is always important, whether we got a matchup we like , whether a guy got it going, ball movement is always going to be important,” Green said in general terms. “Obviously there are going to be times you have to scrap that. A lot of times down the stretch, we scrap that. [Durant] is going to have the ball. Steph is going to have the ball. Klay is going to be finding his shot. A lot of times down the stretch, we scrap it. But throughout the course of the game, you want to have that ball movement and flow to keep everyone else in a rhythm and not allow the defense to key on those guys. Down the stretch, you have to go to your guys and they have to get you a bucket. That’s just a fact of the matter.”As for the ensuing argument between Green and Durant?Kerr maintained “it’s private” on how the Warriors determine when it is appropriate for Green to exert his fiery demeanor and when he crosses the line. But Kerr has long maintained Green’s on-court intensity and honestly provides more long-term and short-term benefits than consequences.“Draymond has a huge heart. He’s a champion. He’s a winner,” Kerr said. “He’s so passionate that at times he can go over the edge. He always comes back. I know he’s going to come back and he’ll be his usual competitive and passionate self. We’re going to move on.”Related Articles HOUSTON – Before anyone even asked a question, Warriors forward Draymond Green discussed the elephant in the room with the conviction and passion that matches his play.In his first public comments since Green and Kevin Durant had a verbal altercation at the end of regulation of Monday’s eventual loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, Green shared that he “spoke” with Durant and that “we’re moving forward.”Green did not directly address calling Durant “a bitch,” criticizing him for his pending free agency or his one-game suspension in Tuesday’s win over Atlanta. Green also did not address an ESPN report that said he plans to appeal the Warriors-imposed $120,000 fine for his one-game suspension. But with Green active for the Warriors’ game on Thursday against the Houston Rockets, Green generally defended his on-court demeanor with Durant. The tensions began after Durant yelled at Green for not passing him the ball after grabbing a rebound during a tie game with six seconds left before committing a turnover as the buzzer sounded in regulation.“There is no secret I am an emotional player,” Green said. “I play with emotions on my sleeve. I play with that same emotion. Sometimes it gets the best of me. If it doesn’t work in my favor, I’m going to live with it because it works in my favor to the good. That’s my resume. My résumé and the team résumé speaks to us more than it doesn’t So I’m never going to change who I am and I’m going to approach the game the same way it always do. We’ll continue to move forward.” How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Kerr appeared ready to move on by keeping his sense of humor. He joked he might filibuster his interview so no one asks any questions about Durant and Green. Kerr also joked that Rockets fans “might cheer” for Green during lineup introductions because of his spat with Durant. He dismissed whether this episode could strengthen the team, though, highlighting any other unpredictable events that could include injuries or personality conflicts.“I’m not going to sit here and pretend everything is rosy tonight and everything is going to be fine,” Kerr said. “This will unfold and we’re going to be fine and are going to be at full strength and we’re going to be ready to roll. But we’re human like everybody else. We have to deal with stuff. So we’ll deal with it.”And so far, Kerr said he likes how the Warriors have dealt with it.“The foundation is the key to everything,” Kerr said. “We have a strong foundation and that’s why we’re going to be fine.”Want real-time Warriors news texted to your phone? Want to get answers to Warriors questions? Sign up for Mark Medina’s private text messaging service.Follow Bay Area News Group Warriors beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.Related Articles Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more