Channing Frye has one order from his head coach.
No more dunking.
"You could tell by the windup he had no chance of making that," Lakers coach Luke Walton said Wednesday night after the Lakers beat the San Antonio Spurs.
Retorted Frye later: "It'll be funny because he says don't be a playmaker and then I score. But I miss a dunk. I think next game I'm going to try to dunk as many times as possible."
He's not really going to do that.
"No no no, I'm making fun of myself," Frye said. "I should've made that dunk. But I think conditioning became a factor right there."
That play was the only blemish on Frye's shooting statistics against the Spurs. Frye scored 19 points, making eight of nine shots, with one dunk attempt the only one he missed. He made all three of the three-pointers he tried. It marked a season high in both scoring and minutes (26:17) for Frye, who missed nine games after having an appendectomy and then eased his way back into the Laker's lineup.
"I'm getting in shape, I'm getting used to the guys," Frye said. "We haven't had a lot of practices. I think guys are progressively getting used to me and I'm getting used to how teams are playing. Just out there having fun, man. Free of mind. Ain't got nothing to lose. We're good."
Frye has been getting more comfortable lately, and it's shown. He had nine rebounds in 22 minutes against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. As one of the few veterans in the Lakers' locker room, his role naturally turns into one that is partially about mentoring his teammates. He's been more than happy to do that while he's learned how to fit on the court.
Frye keeps things light. He recently got a reminder of why.
"I was looking at something on Instagram and I was watching one of my videos from when we won a championship," said Frye, who played for the Cavaliers two seasons ago. "And I was like man, this game comes and goes. So I don't want to waste any minute, any opportunity and have a chance to really help these guys establish themselves in the league, especially respect-wise with referees, with other teams and free agents, so I'm glad I could do that."
Ball and Ingram out
The Lakers have been cutting out practices and shootarounds to give their healthy players time to recover as their roster has been thinned because of injury.
They won't be getting any bodies back on Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Brandon Ingram (concussion) and Lonzo Ball (bruised left knee) are both listed as out for the game. Ingram sustained the concussion last Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks while Ball injured his knee on March 28 against the Dallas Mavericks when he collided with Dirk Nowitzki. Ball traveled with the Lakers to Utah, but he was not at Staples Center for Wednesday's game against the Spurs because of gastroenteritis.
The Lakers have insisted that if the players are healthy in time for even one game, they will play again this season. But they will wait until they are completely healthy, rather than rush them back.
For Ingram, that will simply mean going through the league's concussion protocol. The first step in the process to return involves feeling well enough to ride a stationary bike. Ingram was able to do that on Thursday. If his symptoms don't return within 24 hours, Ingram can proceed to the next step, which involves another activity.
For Ball, that will require him to be completely pain free before returning.
After Friday's game, the Lakers will have three remaining this season — the Jazz on Sunday, the Rockets on Tuesday and the Clippers on Wednesday.
Staples Center is developing a habit of unveiling statues on the day the Lakers play the Minnesota Timberwolves. Last year, they did so for Shaquille O'Neal. This year, they'll unveil Elgin Baylor's statue on Friday before the Lakers play the Timberwolves.
It might carry some extra significance for Baylor. He began his career in Minnesota, as the No. 1 overall pick in 1958, selected by the Minneapolis Lakers. Baylor's statue will be the 10th erected outside Staples Center.
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
On Air: TV – Spectrum SportsNet, Spectrum Deportes, NBATV; Radio – 710, 1330
Update: The Timberwolves are the next Western Conference team fighting for a playoff spot that the Lakers will face, after the Jazz and the Spurs. The Timberwolves have the same record as the New Orleans Pelicans, and they are seventh and eighth in the West, with a one-game lead over the ninth-place Denver Nuggets.