Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell to play in Rising Stars game

Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell to play in Rising Stars game
Lakers teammates D'Angelo Russell, right, and Jordan Clarkson share a moment of support during a break in the action against the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 20. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Finally, some good news for the Lakers.

Two of their young guards were selected to the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star weekend next month — Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell.


They're well aware it's not the All-Star game, but they'll take it in a season where the Lakers own a dreadful 9-38 record.

Julius Randle was not selected to the game, which includes first- and second-year NBA player and features a "U.S. vs. the world" format a second consecutive year.

"He's almost averaging a double-double, so I don't know what else it is that he had to do," Lakers Coach Byron Scott said of Randle's omission. "He's one of the top-10 rebounders in the league as well, so it's just one of those things, maybe they just felt they could take a certain amount of guys from one team."

Randle was not available for comment. He missed Wednesday's practice because of a sore lower left leg and was sent to see a doctor. Randle is listed as probable for Thursday's game.

Randle, in his second NBA season, is averaging 10.6 points and 9.6 rebounds. His shooting accuracy (40.8%) has been a season-long issue.

The Lakers won't be picky. They already have Kobe Bryant voted into the main event in Toronto, and Clarkson and Russell will play Feb. 12, two days before the All-Star game.

"You're going with somebody that you really know, somebody that you could play 'buddy ball' with," said Russell, a rookie who was drafted second overall last June.

Clarkson is the Lakers' most consistent player in his second NBA season. He said he aspired to play in the All-Star game at some point in his career.

Scott commended both players but added proper context.

"You don't want to stop at just the rookie or sophomore game. You want to get to an All-Star game," he said. "Hopefully that's those guys' dream and ambition and hopefully they can pull that off in the next few years."

Bryant and Gasol

It took only one play for Bryant to understand he had a special new teammate in February 2008.

Pau Gasol had just been acquired by the Lakers from Memphis, prompting Bryant to exclaim with delight at coach Phil Jackson.

"He caught the ball and finished it — I ran back to the bench and said, 'Yes, Phil, we got a big that can catch and finish. We're going to the Finals!'"


The Lakers reached the NBA Finals that season, only to fall to the Boston Celtics. But Bryant and Gasol won championships together the next two seasons.

The Lakers play host to Chicago and Gasol on Thursday. Bryant was listed as questionable because of a sore shoulder that forced him to miss Tuesday's 92-90 loss to Dallas.

Bryant recalled his early reaction to playing with Gasol.

"I've got a guy I can really scheme with, the rest of the guys can kind of fall in line from that. His intellect made him the most dangerous," he said.

Gasol, 35, signed with the Bulls as a free agent before last season, taking less money to leave the Lakers. He is averaging 16.6 points and 10.0 rebounds.

The Lakers play in Chicago next month, Bryant's last trip to United Center.

Up next for the Lakers:


When: 7:30 p.m Thursday.

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: TNT; Radio: 710, 1330.

Records: Lakers 9-38; Bulls 25-19.

Record vs. Bulls (2014-15): 1-1.

Update: Chicago has a 9-10 road record and is in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff contenders. Bulls center Nikola Mirotic underwent an appendectomy Wednesday and is expected to return after the All-Star break next month. Backup center Joakim Noah is probably out for the season after shoulder surgery.

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.