Lakers aren’t enthused by all the running at training camp
Are the Lakers that bad at shooting? Or were they cursed by tired legs?
It was open for debate after a 90-71 loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday in an exhibition opener.
The Lakers shot 28.9% and faded badly as the game unfolded. It came after three days of two-a-day practices in another traditionally tough Byron Scott training camp.
The Lakers coach has a reputation for demanding a lot of running in the preseason. It’s important in his mind because the Lakers will be better conditioned than other teams down the road.
Players, predictably, aren’t as enthused about it. They’re trying to fetch a positive angle, though.
“I feel like I’m in great shape. Or at least I’m getting there faster than I would in other training camps,” veteran Brandon Bass said Monday. “I think we’re definitely going to be in better shape than a lot of teams come the regular season. Guys’ legs are probably a little tired, but we’re going to fight through it.”
Bass, 30, spent his first two NBA seasons under Scott in New Orleans. He has been through these before.
“They’re always tough. They’re always challenging. Always going to be a lot of running,” he said. “It’s going to challenge you mentally and physically. I think it’s a usual Byron Scott training camp.”
Then he laughed.
“I hoped it was going to be something different,” he said. “I ain’t mad. I know he’s trying to bring the best out of us.”
Some teams don’t do any two-a-day practices in camp, including the Golden State Warriors. Coach Steve Kerr isn’t a fan of the extra wear and tear, saying last week he might never have another two-a-day.
The Warriors are entitled to a less-strenuous camp, having won the NBA championship in June with a fairly experienced core of players.
In contrast, the Lakers will start rookie D’Angelo Russell and second-year players Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson in their exhibition Tuesday against Utah.
This is a little different than the one camp Russell experienced at Ohio State, where classes and tutoring sessions capped the amount of practice time, he said.
“You start to have second thoughts on why, why, why?” Russell said. “We’re looking forward to trying to make the playoffs. If we do that, we’ll be prepared for it.”
Not long after the Lakers drafted him with the second overall pick, he started hearing about the need to report in shape.
“You even heard about it before the vets told you. Then you see the vets going through it [now] and they’re saying the same thing — as many years as they’ve been in the league, they say this is the toughest,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Scott’s training camps have been dissected. A year ago, Kobe Bryant gave an illuminating peek into Scott’s no-nonsense approach, calling it the most running he’d ever done on the first day of camp.
The Lakers looked weary in Sunday’s game, making 26 of 90 shots. Randle made only two of 10, Bass two of nine and Russell two of eight. Bryant and Roy Hibbert were each one for five.
“I don’t know if it has anything to do with tired legs,” Scott said. “I think we just missed open shots. You could always say it’s tired legs. That, to me, is an excuse.”
Then he went into more detail.
“I don’t necessarily care about tired legs in preseason. I think everything that we’ve done thus far will pay off at the end of the day,” Scott said. “All the running. ... I think in December and January, it will pay off.”
Perhaps Russell has the best solution when the Lakers aren’t practicing.
“A lot of rest. Try to get off your feet as much as possible,” he said.
The injuries are starting to pile up, the Lakers losing two players at Monday’s practice. Jabari Brown left because of a right hand injury that required X-rays (they were negative) and rookie Anthony Brown suffered a strained right shoulder after running into a hard screen. Both players are listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game. ... Backup guard Marcelo Huertas will sit out the game because he has to travel to Canada to complete immigration paperwork. Huertas is from Brazil. At any rate, the Lakers will start the same five players that started Sunday: Bryant, Clarkson, Hibbert, Randle and Russell. One caveat: Scott said Kobe’s availability would be determined after Tuesday morning’s shootaround.
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