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Lakers’ Luke Walton staying open-minded on use of 3-point shot

first_img“The floor should be spaced with free-flowing ball movement going side-to-side. If you’re a shooter and you’re open, I want you to shoot it,” Walton said. “Whether they go in or not, a lot of times that’s out of our control as coaches. As long as you put the time and work in and it’s a shot within the rhythm of the offense and it’s not a forced 3-point shot, we’ll keep encouraging them to keep taking them.”The Lakers entered Sunday’s 124-115 victory over the Denver Nuggets at Citizens Business Bank Arena ranked 21st out of 30 NBA teams in 3-point field goal percentage (32.1 percent). That’s only a small improvement from last season when the Lakers shot 31.7 percent from 3-point range, last in the NBA.Yet, the Lakers’ latest effort entailed shooting 14-of-28 from 3-point range. The high marksmanship seemed as widespread as the team balance Walton hopes the Lakers employ. D’Angelo Russell and Lou Williams went 4-of-7 from 3-point range, while Jordan Clarkson (2-of-4), Nick Young (2-of-5) and Jose Calderon (2-of-3) also posted solid numbers.“We can be great at that area,” Young said. “We have a lot of shooters. We got our legs. All you need is confidence really. We all got that. We lift each other up.”Few would describe the Lakers that way last season. ONTARIO >> His past job gave Luke Walton a first-hand look at a daily clinic that featured the Golden State Warriors mastering the 3-point shot.Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson buried them seemingly anytime and anywhere they touched the ball. The Warriors created more open looks with crisp ball movement and balanced floor spacing. And with those ingredients staying consistent, Walton spent the past two years as a Warriors assistant seeing that team lead the league in both 3-point shots made and 3-point field-goal percentage.Walton said he has not set any expectations for the Lakers in both 3-point attempts and shots made. After all, the Lakers’ young and developing roster can hardly draw comparisons to the Warriors.Instead, Walton has outlined specific offensive principles he believes he elevate the Lakers’ outside shooting. Former Lakers coach Byron Scott sparked criticism for downplaying the importance of the 3-point shot, though he contended his resistance had more to do with the Lakers’ roster and any resistance toward adapting to the modern NBA.Could Walton’s past experience with Golden State fix the Lakers’ 3-point shooting woes? “We can do a lot,” Clarkson said. “We’re all working on it this summer knowing what was going to hold in the up-tempo style and the way we were going to play. We were all ready for that. We’re going to shoot them and they’re going to go in.”Those shots did not go in right away.Walton noted there have been times he called out players for passing up an open 3-pointer (Young) or taking one unnecessarily (Julius Randle). Young noticed that players took plenty of 3-pointers during their first practice, plenty of which seemed forced. Before Sunday’s game, Clarkson went only 3-of-10 from 3-point range, while Williams had gone 2-of-8.Walton has not become consumed with such numbers. Instead, he sounded more concerned on how the Lakers run their offense.“Every team plays differently. There are teams where their main defensive philosophy is to take away the 3-point line. If that’s the case, I would hope you would game plan that we’re penetrating and looking to get into the paint and get 2-point shots,” Walton said. “I’m more of a believer of taking what the defense gives you. I’m sure it’ll change from game to game. It doesn’t matter to me how many we get up. As long as they’re good shots. If we get 30 3-point looks, let’s take 30 of them. If we only get 10, I’m fine with taking 10.”The Lakers took more than 10 on Sunday. That started with Russell, who Walton has credited for learning how to play aggressively while also keeping teammates involved.“I know the work I put in throughout the summer,” Russell said. “Coming into this year, I had a year under my belt. I knew what it took. I knew what I was getting into. I knew where I would get my shots and what would be easy for me going into every game.”Ice in his veinsThe shot has looked smooth. The passing has become crisper The empowerment has increased. Lakers second-year guard D’Angelo Russell mixed those qualities together to provide a team-leading 33 points on 13-of-19 shooting, three assists and three steals in the Lakers’ 124-115 win over Denver. That marked the second consecutive preseason game Russell recorded at least 20 points.Lakers guard Lou Williams had 25 points on a 8-of-15 clip, while Julius Randle added 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, five assists and four rebounds. Jordan Clarkson had 12 points off the bench.Meanwhile, Denver forward Danilo Gallinari and center Jusuf Nurkic led the Nuggets with 19 and 17 points, respectively.A bond reunitedThe two former teammates gave each other a deep hug, suggesting a bond that traced back through several years. But Lakers backup center Yi Jianlian and Denver guard Emmanuel Mudiay only needed one year to become close as teammates with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA),Yi became impressed with how Mudiay averaged 17.7 points on 54.5 percent shooting, six rebounds and 5.1 assists before declaring himself eligible for the NBA draft.“He walked out here every day and tried to get better,” Yi said. “I knew he would be a great player. He had that heart.”Mudiay appreciated Yi’s outside shooting, positive reinforcement and willingness to navigate the various culture barriers.“He taught me how to block everything out. People are going to want you to do so much. So just focus on the task,” Mudiay said. “My team was really talented. I had him on my team. So that made it easier.”Injury updateLakers forward Luol Deng sat out of Sunday’s game against Denver, marking the second consecutive game he missed because of a bruised left knee. Nick Young started in his place. Young posted 14 points, four rebounds and two steals.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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