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Lakers

Byron Scott happy with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash in Lakers scrimmage

Steve Nash
Lakers guard Steve Nash takes part in the team’s media day in El Segundo on Monday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers held their first intrasquad scrimmage of the preseason on Wednesday.

Coach Byron Scott used a starting five of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Wesley Johnson, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill.

The opposing team featured Jeremy Lin, Nick Young, Ed Davis and rookies Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle.

Both Bryant and Nash, coming off injury-plagued seasons, looked like their normal selves.

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“I love what I saw with Kobe and Steve,” said Scott after the practice.  “Steve impressed me and Kobe impressed me.”

Nash seemed to play free of the back, hamstring and knee problems that derailed each of the last two seasons.  On one play he easily hit an open jump shot.  On another, he was caught gambling for a steal against Lin, who sneaked by for an open layup.

The question for 40-year-old point guard Nash isn’t how he well he can play in one scrimmage, but whether he can keep his body together over the course of an NBA schedule.  The frustrating answer over the last two seasons was a resounding no.

Bryant appeared comfortable after missing most of last year with knee and Achilles’ tendon injuries.

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He hit a turnaround fadeaway over Clarkson after faking the rookie in the post.

A few possessions later, Clarkson matched up again against the All-Star, but held his ground -- forcing Bryant into a difficult miss.

“I was trying to test him,” said Bryant after practice.  “He’s a hard worker. He’s a curious player, so he really tries to pick things apart.”

After practice, Clarkson pulled Bryant aside to ask for advice.  The veteran spent a few minutes talking privately with the rookie.

They discussed “defensive technique, chasing guys off of screens, and how to hide from the pick and not get picked,” said Bryant.

Scott and the Lakers have spent most of the first two days of training camp working on conditioning and defense.  The coach added two or three basic offensive sets on Wednesday.

“Just very vanilla stuff right now, just to get them going on the offensive end,” said Scott.  “We’re really trying to apply our defensive principles.”

The team brought in three referees to officiate the scrimmage, leading to a few player disagreements and a yell of “ball don’t lie” on a missed free throw.

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Scott experimented with a variety of combinations, bringing center Robert Sacre in with the starters, moving Hill to power forward. 

Shooting guard Wayne Ellington also joined the first team, with Bryant sliding to small forward. Camp-invite Jeremy Tyler also played with the group for a stretch.

Veteran Ronnie Price and rookie Jabari Brown subbed in for Lin and Clarkson with the second group.

The scrimmage was called with the starters on top, 18-9.

Afterward, Bryant singled out Young, Johnson, Price and Davis for playing particularly well.

“Defensively, he has really active feet,” said Bryant of Davis.  “He’s a pogo stick out there.  He’s all over the place.”

Ryan Kelly sat out with a moderate hamstring strain.  Xavier Henry is still sidelined, recovering from knee surgery and working through back spasms.

The Lakers are scheduled to have a second practice Wednesday, but Scott said he would sit out both Bryant and Nash.

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Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.


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