Lakers keep final practice session of the season on the light side

On Monday morning the Lakers watched film, then they practiced and then they did something that remains a bit of a mystery.

It is possible they played dodgeball. The evidence lay in an oversized duffel bag filled with multicolored rubber playground balls.

“Unusual for who?” coach Luke Walton said, when asked whether anything unusual happened at practice. “We did something different.”


It was the last practice of a tumultuous season and it was light. The Lakers will play their final two games of the season on Tuesday and Wednesday. They’ll face the New Orleans Pelicans at home first, then fly to the Bay Area to play the Golden State Warriors for the first time since November.

The players tried to convince Walton they shouldn’t practice at all, given they’d won recently after skipping practices. But this was their last official session of the 2016-17 season, so Walton started with business and ended with pleasure.

It is possible Timofey Mozgov was the first out of dodgeball. When asked which Laker was the best dodgeball player, in a hypothetical dodgeball game, point guard Tyler Ennis said it was not Mozgov.

As Ennis spoke, Jordan Clarkson walked out in a tie-dye pink and yellow sweatshirt, wearing white sunglasses inside the facility. He and Ennis teamed up at the end of practice.

“He had the shades on so you couldn’t see it coming,” Ennis said.

Russell excused

D’Angelo Russell was excused from Monday’s practice so he could be with his family in Louisville, Ky., after the death of his grandmother, Pamela Russell. Walton put no timetable on Russell’s return, but he’s not expected back for Tuesday’s game.

“He’s gonna be home until he’s ready to come back,” Walton said. “When that is, we kind of told him, keep us in the loop, do what you need to do, be with your family. We’re here to support you. But there’s not a set date when he’s coming back yet.”

Russell nearly flew to Louisville on Sunday afternoon, but stayed instead and played for the Lakers against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Russell hit a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Lakers a 110-109 win. His family had convinced him to stay and play. After the game he was asked whether he was glad he played.

“Yeah, I mean, just to have this feeling,” Russell said. “Take my mind off whatever I’m thinking about.”


Lakers center Ivica Zubac was exercising on an elliptical machine when Monday’s practice opened up for reporters. Zubac suffered a high ankle sprain against the Timberwolves in Minnesota on March 30. He will be reevaluated in a few days. … Walton was unsure of who would start in place of Russell on Tuesday. He listed Ennis, David Nwaba and Corey Brewer as possibilities. He said he might even shuffle the lineup so that Metta World Peace can start. … Tarik Black and Larry Nance Jr. set career highs on Sunday, Black with three blocks and Nance with six assists and six offensive rebounds.



When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: Staples Center.

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

Records: Lakers 25-55, Pelicans 33-47.

Record vs. Pelicans: 1-2.

Update: The Pelicans have lost four games in a row heading into Tuesday’s contest and they’ve been sitting DeMarcus Cousins. The Pelicans have a top-three protected pick that they will have to surrender to the Sacramento Kings if it falls out of the top three, as part of the trade that got them Cousins. They have the 10th-worst record in the league as things stand now, and only a 3.98% chance of getting a lottery pick in the top three. If they can sneak into the ninth slot, their odds will improve by 2%.

Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli