Lakers Notebook: Jordan Clarkson comes off bench in exhibition opener

first_imgANAHEIM >> For all their differences in coaching experience and demeanor, Byron Scott and Luke Walton have shared at least one common trait as the Lakers’ coach.They have not hesitated starting Lou Williams in favor of one of their young players. While Scott stripped D’Angelo Russell of his starting job after 20 games last season, Walton featured Jordan Clarkson as a reserve in the Lakers’ 103-84 victory over the Sacramento Kings in Tuesday’s preseason opener at Honda Center.It’s hardly fair to compare the implications between Russell spending part of his rookie season coming off the bench and Clarkson beginning his third season by opening a preseason game as a reserve. Clarkson posted 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting and six rebounds in 20 minutes. Although he did not speak to reporters afterwards, Clarkson reported feeling in good spirits before the game.“I don’t think it’s ever easy for anyone,” Walton said. “But Jordan is not being moved to the second unit. This is just how we’re trying this first game out.” Walton called Clarkson’s on-the ball-defense “phenomenal” before admitting he missed out on a few boxouts and weakside rotations. Meanwhile, Williams had 15 points. But both players could have different roles soon.Walton hinted he may make more lineup changes as early as Friday when the Lakers play host to the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. Yet, the development seemed somewhat unexpected considering Clarkson re-signed with the Lakers this offseason for $50 million over four seasons. Clarkson spent all of last season as a starter, averaging 15.5 points on 42.3 percent shooting.“At least for the first game, I wanted to get some more experience out there with the starting group,” Walton said. “We want to try out a group and a second unit that has more youth to it and take the shorter minutes and get after it and push the pace up.”After all, the reserves featured Clarkson, rookie forward Brandon Ingram and second-year forward Larry Nance Jr., three players the team hope will excel defensively. Clarkson finished with 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting and six rebounds in 20 minutes. Ingram had only two points on 0-for-5 shooting, while Nance chipped in with nine points and four rebounds. As for Clarkson, he also lived up to Walton’s challenge to improve defensively.“I don’t see anything differently, honestly,” Walton said. “Jordan’s still going to play a lot of minutes. He’s been one of our best defensive players all camp. I’m going to continue to challenge him to take that on. Whether he’s playing with D’Angelo and the starters or playing with the second unit, we want him being aggressive. We want him hounding the ball. We want him getting out and running the lanes.” Making a statementThe Lakers’ first sign of unity did not happen on a play. Instead, it happened when the players locked arms during the national anthem before Tuesday’s game.With San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial justice issues, the Lakers wanted to express their own protest while remaining sympathetic to those who view the anthem as paying respect toward the military. The Kings made a similar gesture.“We fully support our players in exercising their right of expression over an issue that is so important,” the Lakers announced in a statement. “We also applaud the NBA and the NBA Players Association for their collaborative work in expanding the dialogue and for their spirit of cooperation. Finally, we also look forward to furthering our participation on this issue through our Building Bridges with Basketball campaign and our Community Conversation events.”The Lakers had talked internally about the issue before training camp opened. Players said one possibility entailed locking arms during the anthem.“As a group, the players decided that was the way they wanted to show that something needs to be done about what’s happening and do it together,” Walton said. “That was their decision.”Will the Lakers continue those protests?“I would expect it. But I don’t know the answer that,” Walton said. “We will continue to encourage them with whatever they decide to do.”The mob did itWalton has now overseen the Lakers’ so-called “Bench Mob” as both a player and coach. With the Lakers trailing by 13 points at halftime, they staged a third-quarter comeback because of their reserves, led by Tarik Black (15 points), Jose Calderon, Ingram, Clarkson and Nance.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

Leave a Reply