Jordan Clarkson in elite company after weekend performances for Lakers

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“The game just slowed down, got back to the basics, did my job,” Clarkson said.The back-to-back wins gave the Lakers (17-29) six victories over their past 10 games, and stretched their home winning streak to five games with the erstwhile rival Boston Celtics coming to town on Tuesday.“Whatever he’s doing he should probably keep doing it,” rookie forward Kyle Kuzma said. “It was good, we need him to score off the bench.”The Lakers have the NBA’s third-highest scoring bench, with Clarkson contributing 14.3 per game. Before his recent outburst, Clarkson had been in a bit of a slump, averaging just 10.4 points over his previous 10 games, including just one 20-point performance.“He is obviously a very gifted offensive player and I think he is feeling good about himself right now,” Coach Luke Walton said. The uptick in production from the former second-round pick is also coming at the right time for the Lakers’ front office. The consensus around the NBA seems to be that the Lakers would like to trade Clarkson before the Feb. 8 deadline, and reallocate the $25 million they owe him over the next two seasons toward a top free agent in the offseason.The Lakers would likely be looking for no less than a first-round draft pick in addition to salary cap relief.It’s the paradox of Clarkson, a productive reserve who makes the Lakers better now, but might not be with the Lakers by the time the All-Star break hits.That’s something the Lakers have tried to block out, with Walton saying on Friday that “the message is always the same – you can’t control it. If you get traded, you get traded.”Clarkson figures largely into the Lakers’ immediate plans, if not long term. Rookie point guard Lonzo Ball has not resumed practicing after spraining his left knee on Jan. 13 in Dallas, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is listed as questionable against the Celtics.Those factors have some fans clamoring for Clarkson to make an appearance in the starting lineup, something Walton said “could” happen.“I wouldn’t count on it,” the Lakers coach said. “But he could.”Instead, Walton has embraced the pairing of Clarkson with backup point guard Alex Caruso, who played a career-high 31 minutes off the bench on Sunday.“I do a lot of the little things and a lot of the hustle plays and play hard defense,” Caruso said. “Not that JC doesn’t, but he’s more of an offensive guy and on that side I take a backseat to him. So I think we just complement each other really well.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img Jordan Clarkson might have played more games in a Lakers uniform than anyone else in the locker room, but few have been like the pair he strung together over the weekend.First came the 33-point explosion with seven rebounds and seven assists in a win over Indiana.Next was the 20-point blowout against the New York Knicks on Sunday. Clarkson had 29 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and three steals to carry the Lakers. He became the first player in NBA history to record those numbers off the bench and the first Lakers backup with at least 25 points and 10 assists since Magic Johnson in his comeback season of 1996.He is among just six reserves since 1983-84 to have 29 points 10 assists and six rebounds in a game, joining Johnson, Larry Bird, Alex English, Detlef Schrempf and Jamal Crawford.Three of those players are in the Hall of Fame.last_img

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