The Los Angeles Lakers returned to the practice floor on Tuesday morning after getting a victory against the Phoenix Suns in their final game of their four-game roadtrip (1-3). Head coach Luke Walton said it was a lighter practice, that resembled more of a shootaround, as everyone was still feeling the effects of their first long roadtrip of the season.
It was a season-high 25 points from Jordan Clarkson against Phoenix that led the way for the Lakers. Clarkson has been one of the most consistent players on the roster this season, averaging a team-leading 15.5 points per game, in his role off the bench.
Clarkson’s success was a big topic at practice, and Walton specified a big habit they’ve asked him to change this year.
Kyle Kuzma also talks about how his game has changed both offensively and defensively since being moved into the starting unit and what he’s still hoping he’d be doing better at, by this point in the season. It’s all in our videos, quotes and notes below.
Kuzma on how he’s had to adjust his game since being in the starting unit: “Just where to pick my shots at and find different ways to score. In the second unit, you kind of get your play called or take a little bit more shots, but in the first group there are a lot of guys that kind of need shots, so for me its just playing hard and trying to rebound and doing the little things to try to help us win.”
Walton on Vander Blue: “I’m really impressed with the fact that he’s not trying to force anything, because he’s another player who is a natural scorer and we have not been scoring the ball well, that’s why I went to him on this roadtrip, but the ball hasn’t been coming his way in scoring opportunities, so I think he’s done a really nice job as far as being a professional and just trying to play the way that we want to play and that is, not hunting shots, so for someone that has been dying to get his opportunity, to buy in to what we’re doing, has been impressive.”
Walton on Thomas Bryant: “Thomas is great, because he just wants to play basketball. I was thinking about bringing him back a game earlier, and he called me and begged me…he said ‘No disrespect coach, I’ll do whatever you want, but if I’m not going to be playing, is there any way, I can stay down here and stay with the G League because I like playing with them and it’s their home opener. He’s been great, just his overall attitude and energy, just about being around just wanting to play basketball.”
Walton on what they’ve asked from Jordan Clarkson: “We don’t want him dribbling 15 times. He’s going to be a big part of our offense and he’s going to be a big part of our scoring threat, but we want him to make quick decisions and we run a lot of stuff for him, so we ask him to make passes when he gets double teamed or blitzes, and if he’s open he can shoot the ball, one or two dribbles. Besides that, we want him to get off of it, and put pressure on the defense, from coming off pin ways and cutting off ball and things of that nature. It’s a work in progress but he’s doing a good job with it.”
Clarkson on what is different for him this year: “Just being comfortable with where I’m at, making plays and scoring, coach kept it really simple for me this year with what he needed me to do and I’m just executing.”
– Walton was happy to hear that Li’Angelo Ball and the rest of the his teammates at UCLA are returning to the U.S., said that Lonzo has handled everything well with his brother’s shoplifting charges in China
– Walton explained that Josh Hart and Ivica Zubac have been assigned to the G-League because he needs them to get their reps and stay sharp for when they need them this season
– Kuzma said he’d like to be shooting a lot better from three-point range, and that he thought he found his rhythm last game and hopes that continues
– Clarkson has not talked to former teammate Lou Williams about going for Sixth Man of the Year, but says the two have stayed close
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