Jordan Clarkson steps into Lakers’ sixth man role with confidence

first_imgLOS ANGELES — Through three games, the most experienced of the players drafted and developed by the Lakers has also been their most consistent performer.The Lakers lost, 119-112, on Sunday to New Orleans, but it was Jordan Clarkson who instigated a 29-5 run while Lonzo Ball rested. Clarkson scored 11 of his team-high 24 points in that stretch, added four assists and won a jump ball against the taller Dante Cunningham.Clarkson has been the Lakers’ top scorer with 19.7 points per game, although technically, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope leads in that category after scoring 20 points in his debut Sunday.“It is nice to see him start to come out of the other side of the struggles he was having in the preseason,” Coach Luke Walton said Sunday. RANDLE REBOUNDSJulius Randle’s frustration was apparent and his confidence seemed shaken. On the frequent occasions he committed a miscue in the Lakers’ first two games, he would nervously cast his eyes toward the bench to gauge Walton’s reaction.He was rattled by losing his starting job to Larry Nance Jr. He had not received the validation of an extension to his rookie contract.Before Sunday’s game, Walton sensed Randle needed some encouragement.He said he told the fourth-year power forward, “You not starting, that’s our (the coaching staff’s) decision so don’t let those things weigh you down. When you play is our call, so try to do your best even when you’re angry to try to go in with a clear mind.”That message corresponded with what Walton called Randle’s “best game so far.”Randle shot 5 for 6 from the field against the Pelicans, finishing with 11 points. He was on the floor for the big run spanning the third and fourth quarters that gave the Lakers (1-2) a lead with as little as 4:16 left in the game, when he cut to the basket for a dunk.“Like any player in this league I think he’s been a little frustrated that he wasn’t starting,” Walton said. “His energy level just seemed right tonight.”POWDER BLUE POWERThe Lakers will sport vintage Minneapolis Lakers jerseys when they face the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. The team’s “Classic Edition” Nike jersey will make five appearances this season.The powder blue uniform features gold lettering and piping and “MPLS.” across the front. The Lakers busted out a similar throwback design in the 2000s when Kobe Bryant played. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThe heir apparent of the Lakers’ sixth man title following the midseason departure of Lou Williams last season, Clarkson disappeared for long stretches of games, and had a tough time getting going in practices, as well. Those frustrations came on the heels of Magic Johnson challenging Clarkson to make himself a Sixth Man of the Year candidate.“What I’m most proud about with Jordan is he’s sticking with it,” Walton said. “He was struggling in training camp and he was struggling in the preseason. He’s just kept working and working, he just keeps working. He’s had some nice successful nights so far since the season’s started.”Clarkson opened the season with 18 points in the loss to the Clippers, and added 17 the next night in a win over Phoenix. He’s found his success despite playing just 21.7 minutes per game and adjusting to a mandate from the coaching staff that he break out of being an isolation player on offense, something he struggled to do his first three seasons with the team.Asked why he was finding so many scoring opportunities, Clarkson replied, “Just knowing my role, knowing what I got to do when I come off the bench in terms of being aggressive, being a playmaker and scoring the ball for us.”So far in this young season, Clarkson has shot 51.1 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. He finished with five assists on Sunday, a number he exceeded only five times last season.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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