Young Lakers Focus On Growth In Final Stretch

As the season winds closer to Kobe Bryant's career finale, all attention will inevitably tighten on him. But over these last 27 games of the season, Byron Scott said he will likely shrink Bryant's minutes "a tad less" to give the younger Lakers some more run.

“There’s gonna be some young guys that I’m probably gonna up their playing time a little bit more,” the head coach said at Wednesday's practice. “Just to see what we can get from them and take a closer look at them as well.”

Those younger players include Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell, who were in Toronto for All-Star Weekend, competing at the Rising Stars Challenge.

Russell's biggest lesson of the trip came from finding himself surrounded by the All-Star selections.

“You just see where you want to be,” Russell said. “All those guys have really made it to the top. You can’t name the top guys in the league and not name those guys. We see all the superstars walking in and out of the hotel. You’re just like, ‘Man, I want to get back to this stage and participate in this game.'”

While Scott and General Manager Mitch Kupchak don't expect much, if any, roster change before Thursday's trade deadline, Scott is focused on getting his current crop of players locked in for the season's final two months.

He toyed with the idea of having each player write down the number of victories that he thinks the team can capture before the April 13 conclusion.

Julius Randle has been one clearly aching for wins, never hiding his frustration with losing after games go south.

“It’s just growing pains,” Randle said. “It’s tough on us all. Nobody likes losing. We’re all super hungry and want to get better, but it’s just a learning process (that) takes time.”

Nance, Brown On the Mend
Rookies Larry Nance Jr. (knee) and Anthony Brown (ankle) used the All-Star Break to nurse their respective injuries, and were able to go through about three-quarters of Wednesday's practice, according to Scott.

“Both of those guys were back a lot sooner than we expected,” Scott said. “We’ll see how they feel tomorrow and go from there.”

Nance has missed the Lakers' last six contests, while Brown just sat out the final game before the break.