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In this Summer League tournament, the Lakers were seeded 11th and drew the Dallas Mavericks. They, however, lost a close one, 88-86 after the unstoppable Jeremy Tyler (25 points off 11/15 shooting and 11 rebounds) tipped in the game-winner with 1.4 seconds left.

The Lakers looked much better offensively out of the gate but they still had a bad defensive start as the Mavericks seemed to score at will inside and from three. L.A. came back strong in the second half but D’Angelo Russell had a late turnover with 23 seconds left when they had a chance to take the lead. That led to the Tyler tip-in. The Lakers couldn’t get a shot off in the last possession and the Mavs took the duke.

Head coach Mark Madsen took responsibility for the last play and the loss. He complimented Julius Randle’s play, who easily had his best game in Summer League. Madsen thought the team played overall but kept emphasizing that the loss was on the coaching staff overall. Madsen pointed out that D’Angelo Russell played relaxed in that game.

Randle, who finished with 17 points (6/11 shooting), is still not pleased over his 20-minute cap but he knows he has to keep it in perspective. He was trying to “create for others and then for himself.” He felt he played much better because he “slowed down” against the Mavs. I asked if there was a concerted effort to get him off to a good start as he made his first four shots early and he answered that he was just taking what was given to him.

Jordan Clarkson ended with 17 points and had his third good game in Summer League. I had mentioned that Clarkson probably shouldn’t play in Summer League but he is because he would rather play than “sit on the couch and watch the games at home.” And as we suspected, he wants to get the chemistry going with Russell, Randle, and the rest of the guys. He knows that they have to turn this around real soon.

Russell ended with an 8-6-5 line. While he didn’t shoot well again (3 for 11), he did end with only three turnovers (though the last one was costly). Like Madsen said, he looked much more relaxed in this contest. His passes were looking great as his teammates were starting to catch the balls. D’Angelo likes the balance of he and Clarkson sharing the ballhandling duties off the break. He doesn’t seem to care all that much about the expectations of being the #2 pick; he cares more about winning and not letting the “whole Laker nation down.” Russell understands how huge that fan base is.

I like that Randle continues to get to his spots easily; he is such a bull. This time around, he’s finishing and that quick start definitely gave him some confidence. Randle is a rhythm player and he got it going in that game even though he is still on that minute cap. Clarkson had a big third quarter as he scored nine of his 17 points there. He continues to be fearless driving the ball and taking the midrange. Russell has talked about getting better defensively but he’s still getting caught ball-watching as he was getting beat on the backdoor. And Jabari Brown did his part with his 19 points. And as he mentioned postgame, shooters shoot. Yup. Shoot your shot, Jabari.

The Lakers will play one more game tomorrow. In terms of Summer League championship, they can’t win it anymore with the loss. But in the long run, it’s good to see these guys get one more run and continue to build on their chemistry. It is a process and it’s going to be a long one. We all have to be patient. Just remember that we’re still only in the month of July and we all have to slow down on calling these players busts or the greatest thing since Kobe Bryant.

We hear the term, “It’s just Summer League,” all the time. We try not to overreact on everything. So let’s do our best not to do that.

There is hardly anything positive to take away from their 76-66 loss to the New York Knicks. The Lakers offense was as dry as the desert here as they only scored a whopping five points in the first quarter. They did come back from that deficit but could never get quite over the hump.

Jabari Brown scored 20 points in his first Summer League game to lead the Lakers in scoring. But the team shot only 31 percent from the field, while only going 3/16 (I can hear the glass shatter) from behind the arc. D’Angelo Russell, who didn’t go back at the end of the game, continued to struggle in terms of taking care of the ball (eight turnovers) and he lamented that in his postgame comments. The Lakers were booed by the Vegas fans after their slow start but Russell pointed out “that he didn’t hear them.”

Summer League head coach Mark Madsen defended Russell saying that everyone has a down game. He thought that giving his players the day off in Vegas “was probably a mistake.” Regardless, the team never got into a good rhythm on both ends of the floor. Madsen pointed out the 20 turnovers and that “it does not work at this level.” He pointed out that Julius Randle had “excellent playmaking” after a “slow start.” Coach went on to say that D’Angelo was a “little out of sorts” but praised his work ethic and emphasized that “he WILL be great.”

After an excellent two games, Jordan Clarkson didn’t have a great game as he finished with 13 points off 3 of 14 shooting. Clarkson pointed out the horrendous start and their lack of stops on defense. He also talked about the lack of ball movement (SIX assists overall by the team). Jordan thinks the chemistry is right around what he expected with D’Angelo Russell.

As for Julius Randle (seven points, 2/8 shooting), he was clearly frustrated after the game. He said he couldn’t get into a rhythm and that “he had to be better.” Randle said that he knew he could get to whatever spot he wanted on the floor but, as we all saw, he just couldn’t finish. He mentioned how “extremely frustrating” it was to get a rhythm going, especially since he’s playing in “five-minute spurts.” But Julius did say that he’ll work through it and that the goal was “the first game of the season.” He said he’s not worried about his physical state when he’s out playing so that’s definitely a good sign after having such a devastating injury.

Overall, though, not a good showing. We probably shouldn’t look into the rotations too much since the coaches tend to try to play everyone. But they did look lost once their offense broke down and that slow start really killed the team. They do get another chance on Wednesday and all you can ask for them is to get better.

Yes, they looked like the worst team ever on Monday. And some people are calling for D’Angelo Russell’s head already. Let’s also remember that this is only July. It’s Summer League. It’s really the offseason. Let’s all not get too heated.

I thought that Game 1’s crowd couldn’t be beat. Boy, was I wrong. They opened up the upper deck AGAIN for the game between the Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers (who had the jilted, could-have-been Laker Jahlil Okafor).

Summer League produces a lot of bad NBA-caliber basketball so when I say this one is hard on the eyes, it’s really, REALLY ugly. But the highlight of this game was definitely late first-rounder Larry Nance, Jr. He finished with eight points, five rebounds, three steals, and two blocked shots. He also finished with the highest +/- stat at +20 and won the Thomas & Mack crowd with his relentless play. He got “LARRY” chants from the people more than once (which is also hilariously ironic coming from Laker fans… and if you don’t get it, I’m not even sure if you know basketball). The game was won by the Lakers, 68-60.

After the game, Nance mentioned that “he knew his role.” He knows he’s “the athletic, energy guy” on the team and “he’ll lock you up on defense.” He was asked when he accepted that role as an energy guy and he answered that he knew that while he was playing in college (Wyoming). Nance said that he wants to get his hands on a loose ball whenever possible. He said that “energy” is a skill nowadays in the NBA and teams are looking for that. I like the fact that Nance seems like the type of guy that would do whatever is asked from him by the team. If that means being the energy guy or scoring 20 points a game, he’ll do it. He buys into the team and that is excellent. Nance also noted that he talked to his dad (Larry Nance, who is the 1984 Slam Dunk champion) and the advice that he got was to “rebound more.” He definitely enjoyed the Larry chants.

Jordan Clarkson looked great yet again, finishing with 19 points off 8 of 16 shooting. He mentioned that he was working on a “little bit of everything” but he did note about his pull-up jumpers. He said he was getting more comfortable shooting jumpers after going off a pick. It’s nice to see his confidence continue to grow. He said he’s not looking for any individual goals and “just wants to play his best.” Clarkson said that hearing the chants for Nance was “dope and real cool” and that he talks to D’Angelo Russell “all the time” and said that he’s gonna be a “great player.” Laker fans are hoping for that, I’m sure.

D’Angelo Russell (14 points, 4/15 shooting, eight rebounds, seven turnovers) said that the difference in this game from the previous one was slowing it down and focusing on stops on defense. Russell didn’t seem to have as much legs in this game but he was a little better defensively in terms of making rotations and not ball-watching. When I asked him about his defense, he gave himself a C or a C+. He mentioned both individual and team defense and that he/they had to be better on following up on rotations. Russell was then asked about Clarkson and he said that he was a “great leader” and that he was “growing and getting better every day.”

Summer League coach Mark Madsen was definitely a bit more pepped up with the win. He talked about the defensive intensity and communication being much better than the previous game. Mad Dog said that Laker coach Byron Scott’s little pep talk contributed to the team getting in rhythm earlier. Madsen also was glowing about Jordan Clarkson’s “knowledge of the game”; he especially pointed out Clarkson’s adjusting from the point to the shooting guard and helping his teammates get to the right spots. Madsen complimented Larry Nance and called him a “special player.” I’m gonna pump the brakes a little bit on that but I do think Nance can help a team. As for getting the assists up (ONLY FIVE), Madsen answered that they just needed to make more shots and move the ball a little bit more.

All in all, pretty encouraging stuff. Julius Randle was given the game off for precautionary reasons but he’s expected to play in the next game. Again, I expect most of these guys in this Summer League team to be the core of the next few years so I would pay a little bit more attention to them.

I have been going to Summer League since 2010 and I have never seen a crowd this large and heard so much noise.

They started opening up the upper deck to let in some more people. And I heard from another that there were more Laker fans in the Cox Pavilion (the gym across the way where another Summer League game is being played) just looking for this contest. It was insane and it was like we were in Staples Center, only without an organist. The Wolves would beat the Lakers, however, to the tune of 81-68.

On to the players, Jordan Clarkson looked awesome out there. At times, he looked dominant. He scored 23 points off 8 of 17 shooting. Clarkson mentioned that “stuff was starting to come easy and slow down” for him. He seemed very comfortable taking every open shot given to him from the midrange to the three (where he did shoot a not-so-good two for seven). But he finished well and was excellent off the ball. I noted that Jordan’s just at that level where he probably should sit out the rest of Summer League but I wouldn’t be opposed to him getting more time with D’Angelo Russell on the backcourt.

Speaking of Russell, he finished with eight points, five rebounds, and six assists. He noted that “the team was trying to do a little too much instead of settling down.” Russell was definitely guilty of that as he turned the ball over five times. But that’s normal for a team basically playing for the first time in an NBA setting. Russell also noted that he made a “lot of mental mistakes” and mentioned “he was sleeping a little bit on defense.” When pressed further about the mistakes, he mentioned about guys going backdoor and ball-watching on defense. I like that he owned up to those mental mistakes and I think that says a lot about him; Russell wants to be good at his job. No, he wants to be GREAT at it.

As for Julius Randle, it showed that he hasn’t played a game in a long time. According to Coach Mark Madsen, Randle had a limited time of 20 minutes on the court (he played 20:40). Julius definitely felt rusty but he did get it going towards the end (which he also mentioned himself), finishing with 11 points. He didn’t finish well and his jumper wasn’t there but it seemed like he got to the paint at will. It is his first game back so we should be a little forgiving. Randle also noted that he didn’t expect the crowd to be so crazy and that it reminded him of his Kentucky days.

Coach Madsen pointed out that the team had too many turnovers (20), that the defensive rotations weren’t there, and they didn’t box out enough (though the Wolves only outrebounded the Lakers by one). The Lakers were outscored by the Wolves, 25-12, in the fourth quarter in an exciting game that was close for the first three quarters.

The crowd got their money’s worth in a much-hyped Summer League match-up. But the fans should be excited with this young core. Hopefully, we can see more positive things out of this talented Summer League squad. And let’s hope so because this is pretty much most of the main core we’ll see in the regular season.

The Lakers lost their opening day game against the Houston Rockets, 108-90. But something far worse had happened.

Julius Randle, the Lakers’ first round pick, seems to be done for the year with a broken leg. It seemed like a throwaway play after he was pushed to the floor (by Donatas Montiejunas). And then suddenly, we were getting the bad news about his leg. Looking at the replays, his leg was already dangling by the time he jumped off. It was bad news for the Lakers and especially bad for Julius Randle. I can hardly think of any worse starts to your NBA career than breaking your leg in your first game. Speedy recovery to Randle and hope that his career flourishes afterwards.

As for the game…

For the most part, it wasn’t pretty as the Rockets went at them to draw fouls and sank multiple three-pointers. We all know that new Laker coach Byron Scott seems to be allergic to three-pointers. I don’t know if he is trying to set the game back 30 years but the fact is that ignoring the three completely isn’t going to win you an NBA game in 2014.

Kobe Bryant (19 points), for the most part, looked like the Kobe of old (trying to be careful with my word usage here). He had his usual post game and was draining those midrange jumpers. But other than that, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Laker that played outstanding. Carlos Boozer made seven of his 13 field goal attempts but we know that he spends a lot more time working on his yelling game these days. Jordan Hill did have double-digit boards but he missed a few bunnies. Jeremy Lin was a turnover machine and the other guys like Wesley Johnson, Julius Randle, Xavier Henry, and Ronnie Price didn’t do much. Ed Davis had a decent game in the minutes he got but not enough to make a huge impact on the game.

The Lakers did try to attack the rim but with Dwight Howard inside, they couldn’t do much. They increasingly got tentative in the first half; possessions got longer and they didn’t seem to have much of a plan after getting stopped initially. The Lakers did cut the game down to single digits with Howard in foul trouble but James Harden (32 points) got more aggressive and started drawing fouls (questionable or not) to get to the stripe.

I mentioned the three-pointers. Rockets were making them as if they were going out of style while the Lakers almost treated the shots behind the arc like it was Ebola. The Rockets made 12 threes compared to the Lakers’ three. That’s a 27-point difference right there. Plus the Lakers only attempted nine threes. The Lakers don’t exactly have sharpshooters (Price comes to mind) but they should set it up where their best three-point shooters take the shot (Wesley shot 37 percent last season and Lin shot 36 percent). The Lakers and Rockets had a little drama in the fourth quarter when Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard exchanged words after a rebound. We were all jonesing to see a fight but, unfortunately, Randle’s injury really put a damper on everything.

It’s difficult for the Lakers (and the Lakers fans) to move on with this news. Nevertheless, they go to Phoenix to play another game tomorrow night.

Speedy recovery, Julius Randle. We’re all thinking of you.

After the Lakers lost to the Sixers at Summer League, 83-61, Jordan Clarkson stopped by for a conversation.

Clarkson was asked about his progression in the four Summer League games he’s played.

“I’m trying to get used to the pace of the game. Playing at different speeds.”

He was then asked if he’s shown enough to impress the Lakers front office.

“Yeah, I think so. I’m just coming out here to compete and work hard. I’m trying to do that every time I step on the court.”

Clarkson then talked about playing alongsite Kendall Marshall and was asked if he had to play both guard spots.

“It’s interchangeable. Sometimes, it’s what coach calls. We just kinda rotate on what’s going on the court.”

Jordan raved about his fellow rookie, Julius Randle.

“He’s versatile. He can put the ball on the ground. I don’t think too many 6’10” guys can stay in front of him. And he’s athletic enough to finish and make plays. The dude’s a beast.”

Did he have a preference on which guard spot to play?

“No preference for me. Just a playmaker trying to make plays. Just doing what I can to help the team.”

Clarkson was asked about the biggest adjustment he had to make from college to the professional level.

“Just the pace. Sometimes, I play a little but too fast; I need to slow down. I’m still a rookie. I’m just going to keep learning and make sure I learn fast.”

I asked him what he was working on the most about his game.

“Just everything. My all-around game. My team chemistry, being able to make shots, make plays, create for others… it’s really everything.”

Jordan Clarkson has been impressive in Summer League thus far. He has no fear when it comes to penetration and wreaks some havoc on both ends of the court. Here’s to hoping he carries it over to his first NBA regular season.

I actually don’t know what to say about this. Here’s Marc Stein from ESPN with this news:

I don’t get it.

The Lakers paid a LOT of money to keep Jordan Hill. They drafted a promising Julius Randle. Just yesterday, they claimed Ed Davis. And we all thought that it’s inevitable for Ryan Kelly to come back. I was looking forward to the Lakers developing these young players and seeing if Jordan Hill can be a 30-minute-per-game player.

This Carlos Boozer acquisition mucks it all up. I mean, what am I not seeing here that the Lakers are? Boozer is going to take away lots of minutes from the young guys. He’s a better fit for a contending team and we all know that the Lakers are far from that. Why stunt Randle’s development?

Boozer is pretty much all midrange jumpers at this point of his career. Your grandmother can play better defense than him and Boozer yells more than an intense Street Fighter II fight. I mean, I guess he can be the grizzled veteran that can mentor the kids here but I think I’m pushing it at this point.

Yeah. I’m not a fan of this transaction. And I’m actually NICER than a lot of people about Carlos Boozer.

The Lakers Summer League team hasn’t done well. They’re 1-3 thus far and lost to the Sixers SL team, 83-61, on Wednesday night. But we’re there to see how the Laker draft picks are performing.

Julius Randle has done pretty well thus far. Randle is averaging 12 points and four rebounds in three games he has played thus far. He has shown some flashes as an excellent player and has shown some versatility.

Randle was asked about him leading the break.

“It’s a part of my versatility. There are certain times you can do it. You just gotta read the defense and have a good feel for the game.”

Julius was asked about the transition to the NBA.

“I think it gets a lot easier, honestly. There’s more of a flow (in Summer League).”

When asked further about it…

“The spacing is way more because you just can’t collapse. Because if you do, somebody’s going to be wide open. What I’m seeing a lot is they’re either not collapsing, I got an open lane and they can’t guard me one-on-one or they’re collapsing and someone’s wide open and the passes are way easier. The spacing is the biggest difference from college to NBA.”

Julius was asked about his tendencies on the court.

“I like facing up first. A lot of times, guys are bigger, slower than me… not as athletic as me and I can use my athleticism and my skill set. So I like facing up whether it’s on the elbow, top of the key, block extended… that’s what I like doing. But I like grinding and being physical as well.”

He was then asked about his options when facing up.

“Honestly, it’s how the defense is playing me. If the guy wants to be physical, I’ll face him up. If it’s a smaller guy, I’m gonna take him to the post. The biggest difference from my first game and what I’m seeing now is I’m being more patient. I’m reading how the defenses are guarding me. From there, I’m able to operate and be more efficient.”

A lot of people have compared Randle’s game to Memphis power forward Zach Randolph. Randle seemed genuinely stunned and humbled by that comparison. I asked who he patterned his game after.

“Nobody. That’s very humbling, though. (Randolph) is a great player but I never compared or patterned my game after anybody.”

Randle was asked about how his experience with the Lakers fans in Summer League.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s kind of like Vegas is L.A. almost. So many people around everywhere I go whether it’s a cab or a restaurant, there’s Lakers fan and they know who you are. Obviously, you have the most fans here for the games. It’s kind of fun and ridiculous at the same time.

When asked if he was mentally prepared for the fans…

“I didn’t know it was going to be like this. Thought it was going to be JUST Summer League. I didn’t know that there were that many Laker fans out here in Vegas.”

Finally, he was asked about being drafted by the Lakers.

I know it’s the best possible place for me. I didn’t want to be anywhere else so I’m very happy that I was able to be chosen by the Lakers.”

And a lot of Laker fans are very happy that they got him with the 7th overall pick.