Lakers enter a home stretch of sorts: 12 of their January games are at Staples
The Lakers finally get to reacquaint themselves with their homes, their beds, their cars. They can go back to using real keys, not plastic credit-card-sized ones.
After their most heavily traveled December ever — 13 road games — they get almost the flip side of that in January — 12 home games.
If nothing else, they survived their schedule.
“I’ve definitely never been involved as a player or coach in anything like this,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said.
The Lakers’ youth didn’t look road weary in a 112-104 victory Wednesday over the improved Boston Celtics.
Jordan Clarkson was assertive to the end, scoring on plenty of isolation plays from atop the key and finishing with 24 points. Julius Randle gathered another double-double — 15 points, 12 rebounds — and added more fearless drives to the basket.
Rookie D’Angelo Russell had a nice TD Garden debut by scoring 16 points even though Scott chuckled at the teenager’s lack of experience in the long Lakers-Celtics history.
“He’ll get a little bit of a feel of it tonight, but he has no clue what this rivalry is all about,” Scott said before the Lakers’ victory. “I don’t think anybody else on this team does besides Metta [World Peace] and Kobe [Bryant].”
Maybe Russell’s Boston baptism was successful enough to get his starting spot back.
He and Randle were both sent to the bench after 20 games as starters. Scott said he’d review it after 10 games and then asked for three more just to get to January.
He was coy about his intentions Wednesday. The Lakers (6-27) play against similarly woeful Philadelphia (3-31) on Friday.
“I might change some things around,” Scott said. “I might not.”
Russell has the better chance because the veteran who replaced him, Lou Williams, has been erratic as a starter and is plenty comfortable coming off the bench.
Randle might have a tougher time. Rookie Larry Nance Jr. has been burying midrange jump shots and showcasing his immense leaping ability with alley-oop dunks and hang-in-the-air reverse layups.
However, Nance has been bothered by a sprained ankle. Randle might rejoin the starters, at least temporarily.
Either way, the Lakers have only 19 road games left. They have 30 at home.
“Yeah, there’s a certain amount of relief knowing that we’re going home ... and that we’re going to spend a lot of time at home in January,” Scott said. “It’s been a rough time for us.”
Bryant dropped breadcrumbs of information throughout the week, including an, um, interesting description of his style of play the past 20 years.
“Just mean. Mean,” he said. “Just very aggressive and just very combative and confrontational and cutthroat. And I took a lot of pride in competing that way.
“Now, it’s different. I just sit back a little bit more and I take what comes.”
He also shared an amusing anecdote when asked if anybody talked trash to him in his final season.
“No, one guy on the bench one time tried to say something,” Bryant said. “I was just like, ‘Dude, if you weren’t born when I started playing, shut up.’ He was like, ‘Oh, sorry, sir.’”
LAKERS vs. 76ers
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: TWC SportsNet, TWC Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.
Records: Lakers 6-27; 76ers 3-31.
Record vs. 76ers: 0-1.
Update: Philadelphia is on quite the surge, winning two of its last three games, including a 110-105 victory Wednesday at Sacramento. The 76ers ended a 28-game losing streak a month ago by beating the Lakers, 103-91, in Kobe Bryant’s final game in Philadelphia. He made three of his first four shots but was seven of 26 overall by the time it ended, including a staggering four of 17 from three-point range. 76ers center Jahlil Okafor, taken one spot below D’Angelo Russell in the draft last June, is averaging 17.3 points and 7.9 rebounds.
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