Lakers' Larry Nance Jr. garnering approval in summer league

This wasn't Boston in the 1980s and these weren't Celtics fans.

One hustle play after another finally led to the chants — "Lar-ry, Lar-ry!" They were from Lakers followers.

Larry Nance Jr., better known as the Lakers' other first-round draft pick, delighted the summer league crowd Saturday by throwing his body around the court and showing a good nose for the ball in a 68-60 victory over Philadelphia.

His stats were sprinkled across the board — eight points, five rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots — and his play said a little bit about why the Lakers drafted the 6-foot-9 power forward much higher than projected.

If it takes one to know one, Mark Madsen was impressed.

"If you're putting me in the same breath as Larry, I take that as a huge compliment," said Madsen, the Lakers assistant coach in charge of the summer league team and a scrappy big man in his playing days. "That guy's a special player. Larry's a guy who can change a game in a lot of different ways."

Nance is following up what he pledged to do, carving a niche for himself on the court, even if it's defined by floor burns, after showing a bad first impression.

Not long after he was drafted 27th overall last month, social media lit up with one of his tweets from a few years ago.

He was a freshman at Wyoming when he wrote, "Gee I sure hope Kobe can keep his hands to himself in Denver this time," adding the hashtag "rapist."

The Lakers, entranced by Nance's pre-draft workouts and thinking they discovered a late bloomer, had no idea about it. He asked for forgiveness with a contrite, carefully worded text to Bryant, who took into consideration Nance's age at the time of the tweet and told him not to worry about it.

Lakers fans cheered him Saturday, whether it was a dunk off an offensive rebound or a blocked shot of Jahlil Okafor that he slapped against the backboard so hard he thought he broke his hand.

Nance theorized the chants had more to do with the location of the game at Thomas & Mack Center, the host for last season's Mountain West Conference tournament, won by Wyoming in Nance's senior year.

But he also acknowledged he "couldn't be more happy" with the approval.

"I know my role. I'm energy, I'm athletic and I'm going to lock you up on defense," he said. "I know my team and my coaches appreciate that, and it was pretty cool to see the fans do it too."

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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