Lakers’ Ryan Kelly has standout game in frustrating season

Lakers forward Ryan Kelly drives past Magic forward Tobias Harris in the first half.
(John Raoux / Associated Press)

Like plenty of Lakers fans, Ryan Kelly also would just as soon forget this season.

He had nagging hamstring injuries during exhibition season and thought he was finally over them until a severe strain sidelined him in mid-November for seven weeks.

“I was certainly getting a little frustrated,” he said Friday.

Some of the angst slipped away after he scored 20 points, 15 in the third quarter alone, in a 103-97 overtime loss to the Orlando Magic.


“Not every night is going to be like [Friday], but it certainly felt good to have a good night shooting,” he said.

Kelly has recently been thrust into a new position, small forward, perhaps a square peg in a round hole for a player who has primarily been a power forward in his young NBA career.

But he was happy, or shocked, after making his fourth three-pointer in the third quarter Friday, adding a “Really?” shoulder shrug when it happened.

Kelly was the Lakers’ second-round pick in 2013 and re-signed with them in July for a comparatively modest $3.4 million over two years.

The Lakers were obviously pleased with his outburst Friday after he averaged 3.8 points on 30.8% shooting last month.

“He got himself open, he was much more active offensively,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said. “That’s the Ryan Kelly that we’ve been waiting for.”

Price buried on bench


Scott loved Ronnie Price’s defense so much the journeyman point guard started 20 games this season.

Now he’s off the grid, buried at the end of the bench.

“I basically went to him and told him, ‘I’m not going to play you until after All-Star break,’ ” Scott said. “No. 1, I wanted to give that elbow a chance to really kind of heal up and No. 2, I wanted to give Jordan [Clarkson] a chance to really play that position and get some added experience and some minutes.”

Scott doesn’t always approach players who lose their starting jobs (see: Boozer, Carlos) but he felt compelled to talk to Price.

“I respect him a lot as a basketball player and as a person because of the way he comes to work every single day, and I thought I owed him that,” Scott said.

Price had been affected recently by a sore right elbow.

Twitter: Mike_Bresnahan