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Jordan Clarkson's extra shooting practice pays off with career highs against Timberwolves

Jordan Clarkson's extra shooting practice pays off with career highs against Timberwolves
Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson celebrates with forward Julius Randle (30) after scoring during the second half of a game against the Timberwolves on March 24 at Staples Center. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

While Jordan Clarkson was in the middle of a one-for-nine shooting performance Tuesday against the Clippers, he wandered by the bench and told his coach his shot was broken.

For the next two days, Clarkson spent extra time shooting, trying to fix it. That paid off Friday during the Lakers 130-119 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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Clarkson scored a career-high 35 points, making eight of 10 three-pointers, which was also a career high, as were his 13 made field goals. He became the third Laker since 1983 with at least eight three pointers in 10 or fewer attempts. The other two are Jordan Farmar, who made eight of 10 on Feb. 28, 2014 and Glen Rice, who made eight of 10 on May 5, 1999.

"He seemed to have that spark back that he's played with most of the year," Lakers Coach Luke Walton said. "Last couple games it seems like his confidence has been a little down. He definitely seemed to have it going again tonight. It was good to see."

Offensively, his best moments came as the Lakers mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter and overtime. He scored 17 of his points in those 17 minutes. Clarkson was also part of a second unit whose defensive intensity helped turn the game for the Lakers.

"We just started blitzing [Andrew] Wiggins' screens," Clarkson said. "Try to get him to make plays for his teammates. Turned up the intensity. We gave them a lot of points in the first half and that was a big emphasis for us to change in the second."

For the past three games, Clarkson has been part of a starting backcourt withD'Angelo Russell. Walton has wanted to see how he does as a point guard, with Russell off the ball.

Overall, he's played well lately. Clarkson has scored in double digits in all but three games since February began.

"He has the ability to be so dynamic," Walton said Friday night. "You saw it tonight, some of the passes he made. He can be a very dangerous player. He had a couple passes cross-court to a shooter. … He's been one of our more consistent players and we have a lot more and higher expectations of the player he's going to become."

Stretching Nance

While Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. didn't attempt a three-pointer Friday, that isn't indicative of his willingness to do so.

Nance has spent the season working to get more comfortable shooting from outside, a weak spot throughout his career.

"At the beginning of the season it was, 'All right, I've got a three who else is open?'" Nance said. "Now it's, 'I've got it. Where's the shot clock at?' I'm confident in it, our team's confident, the coaches have given me confidence. I'm ready to let it go."

Nwaba 'spectacular'

Brandon Ingram wasn't available to the Lakers for overtime Friday, as his patella tendinitis flared up in his knee.

But even if Ingram was available, there's no guarantee he would have gone back in.

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"David [Nwaba] did such a good job I don't know if I would've taken David out of the game even if Brandon was available," Walton said. "He was spectacular tonight."

Nwaba's face brightened when told of Walton's assessment.

"It means a lot that he believes in what I bring to the team on the defensive end," Nwaba said. "I'm just glad they gave me this opportunity."

Nwaba's assignments lately haven't been easy. Walton has tried him on opponents' best players. He played 26 minutes Friday.

"It's dope seeing a guy come through the D-league, kid from L.A., come out here and get major minutes," Clarkson said. "He had some tough nights. He had to guard LeBron [James], Kyrie [Irving], [Andrew] Wiggins. That's a good way to get thrown into the fire, start your NBA career."

UP NEXT

VS. PORTLAND

When: 6:30 p.m.

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: Spectrum SportsNet, Spectrum Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.

Records: Lakers 21-51; Trail Blazers 33-38.

Record vs. Trail Blazers: 0-3.

Update: The Trail Blazers are making a push for the eighth spot in the playoffs. They'll be on the second night of a home-road back-to-back. Heading into their Saturday game against the Timberwolves, the Trail Blazers had won seven of their last 10 games and were 11/2 games behind No. 8 Denver in the West.

Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli

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