Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Yet, Walton stressed he “would prefer not to be stuck in the lottery for very long.”Instead, Walton has outlined individual goals to teach player in hopes to expedite the team’s development. Walton also has broken games down in five-game increments in hopes to analyze improvement or regression within a certain sample size.“The big picture is all about the team. But 100 percent, it is just as important right now we’re getting individual growth from the young core mainly,” Walton said. “It’s really important we see them grow and put them in challenging situations that will allow them to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.”Though Walton said the young players are “doing a great job” with their development, the Lakers have lost 22 of their last 28 games. The Lakers also suffered their most lopsided loss in franchise history in a 49-point loss to Dallas on Sunday.“If we’re at a place where we’re actually doing our defensive rotations every time, guys are giving the effort we need to give and we’re playing consistently unselfish basketball, … we have a good place to start the next season,” Walton said. “If we’re at a place where right now some games we do it, we look really good and it’s a lot of fun and then we fall back, get a little selfish and don’t work as hard on defense, then obviously we’re not as satisfied with the season.” EL SEGUNDO >> It has become an annual tradition in recent years, and it does not involve the previous custom in which the Lakers threw a championship parade.Instead, segments of the Lakers’ large fanbase have openly rooted for them to lose in hopes to land a high draft pick. It has picked up steam as the Lakers (16-32) enter Wednesday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers (19-27) at Moda Center with the NBA’s second-worst record. That gives the Lakers a 51.6 percent chance of retaining their top-3 protected pick otherwise owed to Philadelphia as part of the Steve Nash trade.“I don’t believe in it. I believe in trying to play the right way and have a culture you’re going to try to win no matter what,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “If you start losing on purpose, I think the basketball gods come back to get you in the long run and good things aren’t going to work out for you.”Nonetheless Lakers recent seasons in mediocrity ensured a No. 7 pick in 2014 (Julius Randle), a No. 2 pick in 2015 (D’Angelo Russell) and a No. 2 pick in 2016 (Brandon Ingram). All three of those players represent key pieces of the Lakers’ young core. A helpful hand?For the first time in 20 years, the Lakers are no longer under Kobe Bryant’s shadow. That might explain why Bryant recently told ESPN Radio he remains open toward helping the Lakers preferably behind the scenes.“It depends in what capacity he will come in and help,” Walton said. “After losing (to Dallas), he’s not the first guy I’m calling. Kobe is more about tough love. At that moment, I didn’t need tough love.”Walton predicted Bryant “would get right to the point really quickly.”Speaking outInstead of showing their superior expertise compared to the media and fans, plenty of NBA players appeared to treat All-Star voting process as a way to vote for themselves or for a former teammate.“If they’re going to ask for it, they should take it seriously,” Walton said. “They should vote for guys that have put in the work and time to be elite at this level. They should be rewarded and it shouldn’t be something to joke.”Etc.After Ingram posted six points on 2-of-12 shooting as the starting point guard against Dallas, Walton may start veteran guard Jose Calderon instead. … Russell will travel with the team to Portland (Wednesday) and Utah (Thursday) to rehab his injured right knee and calf.Walton said reserve forward Larry Nance Jr. will “probably” log more time in Portland after playing 10 minutes in Dallas in his first game since sitting the last month with an injured left knee. … Lakers veteran forward Luol Deng sat out of the last portion of the team’s scrimmage after colliding with reserve forward Tarik Black. But Walton expects Deng to play against the Blazers.
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